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 While some organisations feel that the Bill is unconstitutional and should be withdrawn, others are of the view that it should be redrafted to promote media freedom.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:
- Information Bill Unconstitutional – Lawmakers
- NGO Calls for Withdrawal of Information Bill
- HSF Criticises Protection of Information Bill
- NGO Urges Govt to Redraft Information Bill
- SA's Secrecy Bill - Another Threat to Media Freedom
- Open Democracy Advice Centre
- Institute for Democracy in South Africa
- South African History Archive & Nelson Mandela Foundation
- Southern African Catholic Bishop's Conference
- South African Media & Gender Institute
- Institute for Security Studies & Open Society Justice Initiative
- SANEF to Engage ANC on Media Freedom
- Bill Threat to Media Freedom – M&G Editor
- Tribunal a Blow to Media Freedom – Louw
- Campaign Against Proposed Media Laws
- MMA Criticises Proposed Media Tribunal
- FXI Fears ‘Greater State Control’ Over Media
- NGOs Denounce wa Afrika’s Arrest
- Proposed Laws Will Silence Critics – NGO
- Media Bill: CSOs Next on ANC List – SAIRR
- ANC Urged to Remove MAT from its Agenda
- IPI Criticises SA Over Media Freedom
- Zuma: ANC Not Trying to Control the Media
- Civil Society Deeply Concerned About Roll Back in Democratic Freedoms in South Africa
- MISA – SA Favours ‘Self-Regulatory’ Media
- Call to Defend, Advance Freedom of Expression
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 email@example.com.
SANGONeT will highlight the feedback on the NGO Pulse portal and in the weekly NGO Pulse e-newsletter.