Secrecy Bill debate cancelled

State Security officials defended their stance on proposed changes to the info bill.

Members of Parliament vote in the proposed Protection of State Information Bill. Picture: Chantall Presence/EWN

CAPE TOWN - State security officials on Thursday defended their rejection of some of the proposed amendments to the Protection of State Information Bill.

Earlier this week, they appeared before the National Committee of Provinces (NCOP)'s ad-hoc committee processing the so-called Secrecy Bill.

They were called to comment on the proposed changes.

The department made an extensive representation, rejecting most of the amendments.

On Tuesday, the State Security Department rejected proposals to narrow the definition of national security.

Acting Director General Dennis Dlomo said the changes went to the heart of what national security is about.

He also said a public interest defence clause is not an option, as it poses a risk to national security.

"When you've got sensitive national security information that has already been put in the public domain, you cannot undo the harm."

Meanwhile, opponents of the bill slammed this saying the country's security was not under threat.

Opposition parties and some non-governmental organisations, including the Right2Know campaign, have been calling for the inclusion of a public interest defence clause.

Currently, whistleblowers could face up to 15 years in jail.

Meetings scheduled for the rest of this week were cancelled to give political parties time to study a State Security Department document on their responses.