The Bill would still criminalise ordinary citizens for possessing of classified information – even information already in the public domain. In other words, any ordinary citizen accessing a leaked document in the public domain could face jail penalties of between 5 and 25 years. The Bill promotes a concept of national security that is still broadly defined and open to abuse, which will risk over-classification by state and private bodies. The ‘espionage’ provisions will not apply to foreign spies only, but are so vaguely defined that they would ensnare researchers, journalists and community activists alike and pose a real threat to the free flow of information. These are just some of the critical issues that remain unresolved in the Bill.
To suggest that these concerns have been sufficiently addressed — or that these deep underlying problems have become less grave over time — is to dismiss the broadness and the depth of public opposition to the Bill’s most draconian clauses.
The struggle against secrecy in general and the Secrecy Bill in particular will not dissipate and cannot be dismissed — and unless the Secrecy Bill is adequately amended in Parliament, the Right2Know campaign is committed to challenging it all the way to the Constitutional Court.
For comment contact:
R2K National Spokesperson: Murray Hunter (072 672 5468)
R2K Gauteng spokesperson: Dale McKinley (072 429 4086)
R2K KZN spokesperson: Desmond D’Sa (083 982 6939)
R2K W. Cape spokesperson: Nkwame Cedile (060 478 7563)