In light of all the controversy around the ‘National Key Points Act’, the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service has introduced the Draft “Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill’, which was open to the public for commentary until 15 June 2016. R2K’s submission on the draft Bill is here.
In R2K’s submission we write: “Despite our fervent opposition to the National Key Points Act and longstanding demand to see it scrapped, Right2Know believes that this draft Bill does not represent a constitutionally sound replacement to that Act. It fails to substantially deal with most of the fundamental problems and unconstitutional provisions of the Act, as previously noted. It represents a continuation, not a departure, of the security-statist thinking that drove opposition to the National Key Points Act. It is a matter of deep concern that, far from being closely monitored and regulated at the margins of our society, security laws and security politics play an increasingly prominent role in South Africa’s public life, often at the expense of South Africa’s people.”
R2K’s submission states that any new law must be as narrowly applied as possible, with strong, independent oversight – both through formal institutions and through the provision of full public participation and citizen oversight. Above all, activities in the public interest, including whistleblowing, journalism, protest and dissent should be protected from prosecution. The serious flaws in the draft Bill include:
- The draft Bill makes very little provision for the oversight role of Parliament, and none for the public.
- While the South Gauteng High Court ordered that the public have access to the list of National Key Points, the draft Bill leaves the question open of whether or not the list of critical infrastructure will be secret or public.
- This draft Bill still gives huge power to the Minister to declare infrastructure as “Critical Infrastructure” – which is what National Key Points will be now called. These could be public sector bodies or private companies. The policy is likely to cover more than 200 existing national key points, as well as more than 248 secret government sites that are declared ‘strategic installations’ – and could potentially apply to any other building or location. The criteria for whether a site should be protected, as ‘critical infrastructure’ is even wider than the National Key Points Act.
- This draft Bill infringes on the right to protest, as any disruption or obstruction to the functioning of “Critical Infrastructure” is an offence under the Bill and one could be prosecuted up to 20 years for interfering in anyway with ‘critical infrastructure’.
- The bill also attempts to infringe on the right to freedom of speech and media freedom as it prohibits and states that any filming, photographing of ‘critical infrastructure ’and publishing of such imagery is unlawful.