The South Gauteng High Court has given the Ministry of Police 30 days to release a public list of National Key Points.
The Right2Know Campaign and the South African History Archive (SAHA) welcome this ruling, which underscores the need for transparency to prevent abuses of security policies. The judgment also highlights the damning failure by the state to provide clear reasons for refusing access to records in terms of South Africa’s key accountability law, the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), noting that SAPS’s justification for withholding these records amounted to “platitudes and a recitation of the provisions of the statutes.”
We believe that releasing the list of National Key Points would be vital step in challenging the creep of unjustified ‘national-security’ secrecy, authoritarianism and repression in our politics and public life. Only through access to this list can the public begin to identify and resist abuses of this apartheid-era secrecy law, where we see vague ‘National Key Point’ powers being invoked to shield certain institutions from criticism, both in government and the private sector.
In May 2013 the Ministry of Police also announced that the Act would be reviewed and amended in Parliament, but said that the public would not have access to the list of National Key Points during such a process. We believe a public review of the Act would be meaningless without access to this list, reducing Parliament’s role to nothing more than a rubber-stamping exercise likely to replicate some of the worst parts of the law. We believe that access to this list will most likely demonstrate that the National Key Points Act, as a legal throwback to apartheid-era secrecy, has no place in South Africa’s democracy, should be scrapped entirely and replaced by a law premised on principles of openness and accountability.
Download the judgement here.
Update: the released list of National Key Points is here.