freedom of expression

ANC Backtracks on Key Secrecy Bill Clauses

The African National Congress’ (ANC) concessions on the Protection of State Information Bill (Secrecy Bill) have further reduced the threat posed to whistle-blowers and the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

When the National Council of Provinces's (NCOP) ad hoc committee dealing with the Secrecy Bill resumed its deliberations, the ANC agreed to delete two bitterly contested clauses.

The intervention was welcomed by activists who oppose the Secrecy Bill, which could make journalists and whistle-blowers vulnerable to prison sentences of up to 25 years.

Mail & Guardian Did Not Break Law: R2K

The Right To Know (R2K) says that The Mail & Guardian did not break the law by publishing parts of NPA transcripts.

The organisation has been quoted as saying that, "First, it is not clear how the M&G has broken the law. Section 41(6) of the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] Act prevents disclosure of investigatory material, not its mere possession.”

Web Censorship on the Increase – Google

Political commentary remains a prime target as governments increase the number of requests for Google to remove material from the reach of Internet users, according to Google.

Releasing its fifth semi-annual Transparency Report, which provides insights into requests by countries around the world to ‘take down’ content from search results or Google venues such as YouTube, Google senior policy analyst, Dorothy Chou, points out that, "Just like every other time before, we've been asked to take down political speech."

FXI Criticises FPB Over ‘Spear’

The Film and Publications Board (FPB) put a ‘16N’ restriction on the piece, barring those under 16 from viewing it or any reproductions of it.

However, the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) has called the move an intrusion that sets a dangerous precedent for creativity and expression.

Caxton professor of journalism at University of the Witwatersrand journalism school and FXI chairperson, Anton Harber, has labelled the classification ‘ludicrous’.

Swaziland Attacks ‘Disrespectful’ Media

The Swaziland Government says the two South African e.TV journalists detained by Swazi Police were intent on ‘disrespecting’ the kingdom.

Government spokesperson, Percy Simelane, says that foreign journalists tend to undermine the sovereignty of Swaziland.

The two journalists were detained at the Swaziland – South Africa border on 11 April 2012 when they tried to enter the kingdom to cover the prodemocracy protests that were to be held across the country.

Media, NGOs, Khoza Part of Third Force - Nzimande

The South African Communist Party secretary-general, Blade Nzimande, has accused the mainstream ‘liberal media’, some ‘liberal NGOs’ and business leaders like Nedbank chairperson, Reuel Khoza, of being part of an ‘ideological third force’ that fear black rule.

In an opinion article on the ANC Today website, Nzimande argues that an ‘anti-majoritarian liberal offensive’ is trying to assemble elite voices that appear to be either neutral or authoritative to try and discredit the African National Congress (ANC).

South Africans Happy With Democracy - Poll

An independent African think tank, Afrobarometer research group, says that six of every 10 South Africans are satisfied with their nation's style of democracy, but belief in an unrestricted media has dropped.

In its latest poll, the Afrobarometer states that ‘personal satisfaction’ on the country's democracy rose from 49 percent in 2008 to 60 percent in 2011.

Ahead of proposed media curbs two decades after the end of apartheid era rule, 61 percent of people believed the media should publish without government control, compared to almost 80 percent in 2008.

Rights Groups Slam Attack on Woman

Gender rights organisations have expressed dismay that another woman has been assaulted at Umlazi’s notorious Unit 17 hostel for wearing trousers.

Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre’s (TLAC) Lisa Vetten, points out that the latest incident suggested women are dealing with a problem of culture at the hostel.

Vetten is of the view that the izinduna (headmen) running Unit 17 need to attend training on gender equality and take a much stronger stand against these incidents.

Women March Against Harassment

Bree street taxi rank in Johannesburg’s central business district was bustling with people gathering for a march organised by the African National Congress Women’s League today.

Wearing miniskirts in bright colours and singing ‘the leadership is greeting’ and ‘mini skirt we love you’, women and several men marched to protest against the harassment experienced by two young women when they went shopping in the Noord Street taxi rank last December.

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