Critics condemn new South African secrecy law
South African MPs yesterday passed a secrecy law that critics say harks back to apartheid legislation, criminalises investigative journalism and could be used to conceal corruption.
The rushed passage of the controversial Protection of Information Bill – despite a pledge two months ago that it would be put to broader consultation – raised questions about the possible political motivation behind it.
Black-clad demonstrators gathered outside parliament and two South African Nobel laureates criticised the pending legislation. The former Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu said it was "insulting to all South Africans to be asked to stomach legislation that could be used to outlaw whistle-blowing and investigative journalism".
The Nobel prize-winning author Nadine Gord- imer said the bill was "totally against" freedom. The legislation allows any government agency to apply for the classification of information that is "valuable" to the state. However, the bill does not include a public interest clause and criminalises the possession and distribution of state secrets.
As a result, critics say journalists and whistle-blowers could face up to 25 years' imprisonment for breaches.
Amnesty International called the bill "fatally flawed" and Human Rights Watch said it "was a blow to freedom".
The ruling African National Congress said the new law – passed with a vote of 229 in favour and 107 against – is essential for deterring spies. The party said the bill was intended to replace outdated apartheid-era legislation and to "balance the presumption of secrecy with a presumption of openness".
However, the legislation comes at a time when the ANC's probity is being questioned by a robust civil society.
auctionThe first 23 lots have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
comedy'Fresh Meat' star sees off stiff competition from Alan Carr, David Mitchell, Graham Norton, Lee Mack and Sarah Millican to win top prize
musicPolice chief rejects rappers' claims that his work is as dangerous as law enforcement or military service
tvSpoiler alert: Find out the result of a heated final show
Beatles rush out 'bootleg' album to defy EU copyright law
Harvey Weinstein reveals his secret weapon on-set
Now that an oil trader's drinking has got him sacked, will we all have to make do with an afternoon latte?
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Idris Elba get nods for Best Actor, which no black Brit has ever won
Geoffrey Macnab reviews The Desolation of Smaug - the meat in Peter Jackson's Hobbit sandwich
peopleWhat advice would David Cameron give to his younger self?
Auction house to give away $1m masterpiece in charity raffle - and tickets are only $100 each
Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ sign language interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
Mystery of Epping Forest 'big cat' is solved
French café starts charging extra to rude customers
Australia: Gay marriage law reversed by high court less than a week after first weddings
Australia incest case: Severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ sign language interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
- 2 Mystery of Epping Forest 'big cat' is solved
- 3 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 4 Australia incest case: Severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 5 Physicists discover 'clearest evidence yet' that the Universe is a hologram
- < Previous
- Next >
£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Senior C# ASP.NET Deve...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: QA Automation Tester FX Trading Platform(Ruby, ...
£25000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits : Harrington Starr: VB.NET SQL Developer/...
£45000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits : Harrington Starr: Senior Automation QA ...