A lot of good work has been done to soften the Protection of State Information Bill. But it's not enough. That's the word from the Right to Know campaign. They staged a march to parliament to protest against the lack of a public interest-defence clause in the bill.
The Right to Know campaign acknowledged the concessions by government, but reiterated the Bill's still not safe for the public. "There is the issue of the public interest clause, there is the issue of sentencing, there is the issue still of who classifies or does not classify the information," says Archibishop Thabo Makgoba.
He was echoed by former intelligence minister, now a Right to Know member, Ronnie Kasrils, who also said too much power would be given to officials who classify information:
The bone that sticks in my throat – and it’s a poisonous bone which will stick in all our throats and in those who will rule the country – is that the definition of security is so broad,” said Kassrils.
In parliament this week, the ANC said it may restrict the State Security Minister from delegating power to classify information
The maximum penalty of twenty five years in jail for those convicted is seen as too harsh. "The definition of security is so broad and more, the question of the powers to those who decide how to classify what is to secret and secret," says former Minister of Intelligence, Ronni Kasrils.
In parliament this week, the ANC said it may restrict the State Security Minister from delegating power to classify information. The ANC however says the protection of classified information ranks above that of access to information. This stance has been criticised by opposition parties.