South Africa’s assembly passes ‘state secrets’ law

state secret lawOn Tuesday the South African National Assembly passed a bill which critics say will stifle investigative journalism.

It has been called the ‘state secret’ bill and allows the government to classify any document as secret and obtaining, leaking or communicating such classified information could be punishable by a prison sentence of up to 25 years.

Some critics believe without a public interest defence clause in the legislation, it will criminalize investigative journalism.

According to experts in South Africa the bill attacks the values which are deeply embedded in the South African Constitution and their lives.

However, a Government spokesman said that the bill has nothing to do with curtailing the freedom of the press and the right of freedom of expression.

Critics say the ‘state secrets’ bill will nullify the Access of Information Act through which the people have access to state information. But the government spokesman said that this act would not nullify the Access of Information Act. Further adding that bill would be important to the country as it provides for the classification of confidential information by the security arm of the state.

South Africa’s assembly passes ‘state secrets’ law

Report by Adhir Roy Chowdury