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08 August 2011 at 16:00 - Posted by GeraldY

March for freedom on Constitutional Court


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The Right2Know Campaign is holding a rally and march in opposition to the Protection of Information Bill (the Secrecy Bill) on 13 August 2011 from Wits University and calls on the media, supportive organisations and individuals to join it.

'Raise Your Voice! Scrap the Secrecy Bill' rally begins at the Great Hall at 10.30am with following key speakers participating.

  • Ronnie Kasrils (former Minister of Intelligence)
  • Pregs Govender (deputy chair - SA Human Rights Commission)
  • Sidumo Dlamini (president of COSATU)
  • Nic Dawes (editor of Mail & Guardian)
  • Prof Franz Kruger (Wits Radio School)
  • The march to the Constitutional Court will take place at noon and end with a second rally from 12.30 to 1pm.

Core demands not yet met
Despite concerted opposition, months of hearings in the parliamentary ad hoc committee responsible for the Bill and meetings with government, the core demands of the Right2Know Campaign (see below) have yet to be met. Even though limited concessions have been made and the parliamentary hearings continue, as it stands, the Bill remains a direct threat to our democracy.

The ANC, as the ruling party, continues to refuse the inclusion of a public interest defence, and is offering only the narrowest protection for whistle-blowers. Ordinary citizens will have no protection from prosecution under the Secrecy Bill. Further, the ANC has worryingly broadened the definition of 'national security' and reneged on prior promises that 'commercial information' would not be classified. As a result, the veil of secrecy over the state's security apparatus and the overall activities of those in government has now been thickened.

It is now time to raise our collective voices to a new level. The future of our democracy rests on an active and informed citizenry, willing and able to hold the elected government accountable to those in whose name it governs. The message must be loud and clear: scrap the secrecy bill in its entirety and start the process anew with full and proper public participation.

Campaign demands
Limit secrecy to strictly defined national security matters and no more. Officials must give reasons for making information secret.
Do not exempt the intelligence agencies from public scrutiny
Exclude commercial information from the Bill
Do not apply penalties for unauthorised disclosure to society at large, only those responsible for keeping secrets.

An independent body appointed by Parliament, and not the Minister of State Security, should be the arbiter of decisions about what may be made secret
Do not criminalise the legitimate disclosure of secrets in the public interest

For further information, go to www.r2k.org.za, www.facebook.com/Right2Know or Twitter: @r2kcampaign.

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