Final Stretch for Info Bill
The National Council of Provinces’ ad hoc Committee on the Protection of State Information Bill begins deliberations on the proposed legislation on Friday, 4 May 2012. The ad hoc Committee is expected to reject or adopt the Bill, or adopt amendments to it, on 11 May.
The public was widely consulted on the measure during nationwide public hearings at the beginning of the year to capture the views of ordinary South Africans on the Bill.
The Committee also held a week-long process of public hearings in Parliament, where it dealt with a number of organisations and institutions that had earlier provided written submissions.
Throughout the public consultation process, the Chairperson of the Committee, Mr Raseriti Tau, assured citizens, organisations and institutions that took part in the process that all submissions would be considered when the Committee deliberated on the Bill. During the final week of public hearings in Parliament, organisations presented oral submissions on proposed amendments to the current Bill.
These amendments included a proposal to amend section 1(4) of the Bill which states that, “In respect of classified information and despite section 5 of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, this Act prevails if there is a conflict between a provision of this Act and a provision of another Act of Parliament that regulates access to classified information.”
Other proposed amendments included the inclusion of a “public interest” defence clause, a “public domain” clause and advocating the complete independence of the Classification Review Panel.
by Faith Kwaza