Countless invasions: Prof Hugh Corder addresses the Black Law Students' Forum on the Protection of Information Bill 6 of 2010.
Even a cursory study of its contents suggests that the chorus of scepticism and opposition that has greeted the Protection of Information Bill 6 of 2010 is well founded. So suggested Professor Hugh Corder of UCT's Department of Public Law at a lunchtime meeting of the Black Law Students' Forum on 5 August.
While the Bill pays frequent lip service to the openness of government and freedom of expression, said Corder, it boasts countless invasions of these Constitutional values. Among these are its broad and open-ended definition of the 'national interest' that underpins it, the subjective process of classification and declassification of information, a lack of transparent and independent review, greater workloads on an already thinly-stretched civil service, no protection for whistle-blowers, and some frighteningly harsh minimum penalties for transgressors (likely to further discourage potential whistleblowers).
Said Corder: "What this Bill does is put - cheek by jowl - wonderful, ringing language about democracy and openness, and arbitrary mechanisms to close those down."
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