Thousands of people across South Africa have united against the proposed Protection of Information Bill (the Secrecy Bill) being discussed in Parliament, which threatens to drag South Africa back to apartheid-era secrecy and undermine community struggles for access to information. Despite months of public outcry from a wide spectrum of civil society organisations, political parties and ordinary citizens, MPs of the ruling party seem determined to finalise the Bill by 24 June with many of its draconian provisions intact!
The Right2Know Campaign calls on all those who object to the passing of the Secrecy Bill in its current form to make their collective and individual voices heard now by signing this statement!
A responsive and accountable democracy that can meet the basic needs of our people is built upon transparency and the free flow of information. The gains of South Africans’ struggle for freedom are threatened by the Protection of Information Bill (the Secrecy Bill) currently before Parliament. We accept the need to replace apartheid-era secrecy legislation. However, this Bill extends the veil of secrecy in a manner reminiscent of that same apartheid past.
This Bill fundamentally undermines the struggle for whistleblower protection and access to information. It is one of a number of proposed measures which could have the combined effect of fundamentally undermining the right to access information and the freedom of expression enshrined in the Constitution.
The Bill will create a society of secrets:
Our demands: The Constitution demands accountable, open and responsive government, realised among other things through freedom of expression and access to information. Our elected representatives are bound by these Constitutional values and any legislation they pass must comply. Furthermore, we recognise that the Protection of Information Bill is a symptom and symbol of an existing climate of secrecy facing South African communities today: ordinary South Africans struggle to access information that is relevant to their livelihoods. We demand that the Protection of Information Bill – the Secrecy Bill – must reflect the following:
Any law that doesn't meet these demands is unconstitutional and must be scrapped!
To endorse this statement, visit www.r2k.org.za or send your name, email address, phone number to Tinashe Njanji by 13 June 2011: firstname.lastname@example.org indicating your support for the statement.
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