Five new proposals on the POIB - ANC

Minimum sentence provisions to be removed, scope of bill to be restricted


24 June 2011

The African National Congress has given very serious and careful consideration to many concerns expressed about certain provisions of the Protection of Information Bill [B6B-2010]. These concerns were expressed by members of the ANC, ordinary members of the public, civil society organizations and Members of Parliament, amongst others.

Given our history and the often horrific experiences we have had with our security services; and given the provisions of our Constitution which enjoins us to "recognise the injustices of our past", the African National Congress wants to change the culture of secrecy.

The ANC believes that decisions taken by state departments and civil servants must be both justifiable and be able stand the test of accountability.

To this end the ANC, therefore, proposes that:

1. The scope of application of the Protection of Information Bill, insofar as it applies to the authority to classify information, such scope must be drastically reduced to apply only to the country's security services.

2.  An opt-in clause be provided for in the Bill which will allow organs of state or entities of state to apply to be allowed to classify information on good cause shown;

3.  A retired judge be provided for in the appeals process;

4.  The minimum sentences provisions in the Offences clause be removed, with the possible exception of the crime of espionage. Moreover, we must ensure that the penalties and sanctions in the Offences clause meet the test of proportionality; and

5.  The Bill's provisions must ensure that this legislation is not abused such that it is used to hide corruption and other serious offences.

The ANC believes that these proposed changes to this Bill will help meet the difficult and competing demands of  national security within a rights-based, constitutional democracy such as ours.

Statement issued by The Office of the ANC Chief Whip, ANC Parliamentary Caucus, June 24 2011

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