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Parliament to reconsider Secrecy Bill to align it with Constitution

The so-called Secrecy Bill provides for the protection of sensitive state information and regulates the manner in which the information may be protected.

Newspaper. Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG – Parliament now had to reconsider the Protection of State Information Bill and The Liquor Products Amendment Bill based on reservations the President had about the Constitutional validity of provisions in the draft legislation.

This follows a number of legal opinions, as well as public submissions, received by the Presidency over the lifetime of the Bill.

The so-called Secrecy Bill provides for the protection of sensitive state information and regulates the manner in which the information may be protected.

There were concerns that journalists would face penalties if they disclose such information.

The South African National Editors Forum’s (Sanef) executive director Kate Skinner said: “Sanef welcomes the opportunity that all aspects of the Bill that are unconstitutional or too broadly defined are redrafted.”

This was reinforced by President Ramaphosa, who was concerned that certain provisions in the Bill were in conflict with Sections 16 And 32 Of The Constitution – which respectively address the right to freedom of expression, including freedom of the media.

Furthermore, the President is concerned about deficiencies in the public-interest defence provisions in the Bill.

This includes criminal liability on the part of whistle-blowers who may be in possession of documents that could be wrongly classified to cover up corruption or hide maladministration.

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