Sunday, July 25, 2010

State tightens grip on maintaining secrecy of information

SHOOT: Let's hope Dario Milo, a partner at Webber Wentzel, manages to defeat this bill in the Constitutional Court.
clipped from

Milo noted that bill — meant to replace an apartheid-era law dating from 1982 — could see investigative journalists face up to 25 years in jail for publishing information of public interest.

It went even further by denying those accused of contravening it the right to raise the defence of having acted in the public interest.

Like others who have objected to the bill, Milo argued that it sought to create a climate of secrecy by defining national interest and national security so widely that information could arbitrarily be classified.

“The bill endorses this secrecy by creating overbroad definitions of concepts such as ’national interest’, ’security’, ’state security’ and national security’ and then allowing classification based on speculative harm to these nebulous concepts.”

Those who drafted the bill had also erred by placing the onus on journalists to justify why they should be granted access to information, rather than requiring the state to show why it should remain classified.

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