State Security welcomes progress on Info Bill

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Pretoria-The Ministry of State Security has noted the latest developments with regards to the processing of the Protection of Information Bill. 

According to the Ministry, the recent developments represent a major step in the direction of completing this piece of legislation which has undergone major reformulations to take into account legitimate concerns made during the process of public hearings.

"We welcome these amendments, as they demonstrate the maturity of the democratic parliamentary system that is rooted in our Constitution.

"We note the continued criticism of the ruling party's position with regards to the public interest defence," head of communications Brian Dube said in a statement. 

Dube said the latest version of the Bill includes a plethora of provisions that allows for lawful and procedural access to classified information. 

The Bill provides for a fast-tracked process of accessing information, which reveals the contravention or a failure to comply with the law, imminent and serious public safety or environmental danger. 

Over and above this, the Bill criminalises the use of classification for hiding maladministration, corruption, embarrassing information, amongst other things. 

"With the now narrowed application of the Bill, we fail to see why members of the public, including media practitioners and whistleblowers, would require such a defence when the Committee has worked tirelessly hard to align this Bill with the Promotion of Access to Information (PAIA), the Protected Disclosures Act and the Companies Act," he said. 

Above all, the Bill has also included the Classification Review Panel, which has immense powers to oversee and review the classification powers of the Security Services and Oversight Structures in Chapter 11 of the Constitution.

"We reiterate our assertion- which we made in response to the public hearings- that to include such a defence would be to shred the Bill even before it becomes law.

"We reiterate our position that Parliament, as a democratic institution founded by our Constitution, would continue to discharge its responsibility in passing bills that pass constitutional muster," he said.-BuaNews

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