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22 Feb 2012 08:10
Under the Bill, unauthorised possession and disclosure of classified records will attract heavy penalties. (Reuters)
The Right2Know Campaign (R2K) and the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) have filed submissions to the National Council of Provinces ad-hoc committee on the Protection of State Information Bill, highlighting remaining concerns about the Bill.
The ad-hoc committee is conducting public hearings in several provinces. In mid-March, the committee will hold hearings in parliament where organised groups can make presentations.
These hearings are a final opportunity to convince legislators to make changes to the Bill before it is passed into law.
The National Assembly passed the current version late last year after bringing about some changes, which included narrowing down the proliferation of state bodies which will have the power to classify information
Unauthorised possession and disclosure of classified records will attract heavy penalties.
R2K, Sanef and others maintain that the amendments have not gone far enough, and at the very least should contain a public interest defence, so that the disclosure of state secrets are not criminalised where the public benefit in disclosure outweighs the harm to national security.
The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism is a founding member of R2K, whose submission summarises major remaining concerns as:
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