Information Bill: Threat to Media Freedom?

Government is under criticism from civil society organisations (CSOs), the media and opposition parties over the Protection of Information Bill.

The Bill, meant to replace an apartheid-era law dating from 1982, includes some problematic (potentially unconstitutional) elements that limit the media’s right to information and could see investigative journalists face up to 25 years in jail for publishing information of ‘public interest’.

Many described the Bill as the biggest threat yet to freedom of information and the work of journalists. The other fear is that the Bill will encourage the publishing of press releases by the state and discourage investigative journalism. While some organisations feel that the Bill is unconstitutional and should be withdrawn, others are of the view that it should be redrafted to promote media freedom.

The following organisations have commented on the Bill:

In addition, a number of Western Cape organisations will be meeting on 10 August 2010 (16h00) at the ISS office in Woodstock to discuss a possible campaign on the issue of transparency and access to information. For more information, contact Mark Weinberg at AIDC.

If you would like to share your views and comments regarding the Protection of Information Bill with NGO Pulse readers, please forward your comments and contributions to editor@sangonet.org.za.

SANGONeT will highlight the feedback on the NGO Pulse portal and in the weekly NGO Pulse e-newsletter.

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