Renowned human rights lawyer George Bizos on Thursday pleaded with Members of Parliament (MPs) to allow the courts to be the final arbitrators in justice-related matters.
Bizos pointed out various concerns related to the Protection of State Information Bill, when he appeared before a National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Committee in Cape Town.
One of the concerns he expressed was his fear that the possible legislation may exclude courts from playing a role.
He said the setting up of a review committee, to decide whether the classification of documents is good or bad, may be deemed an exclusion of the court’s jurisdiction.
In a written submission handed to Parliament earlier in March, Bizos wrote the current draft of the bill, “Runs contrary to and indeed threatens many of the fundamental values and principles enshrined in the Constitution."
The lawyer, who works for the Legal Resources Centre's Constitutional Litigation Unit, said the drafted bill breaks the constitutionally-mandated Promotion of Just Administration Act.
He said the bill holds power to expel the jurisdiction of the high courts to review classification, which is an administrative act.
Bizos told MPs to ask themselves whether they would be willing to take the chance of the bill being subject to a Constitutional Court challenge.
(Edited by Thato Motaung)