Info Bill threatens press freedom

South Africa
The Protection of State Information Bill still does not offer whistle-blowers full protection. Picture:

JOHANNESBURG - The Protection of State Information Bill remains a threat to South Africa's press freedom, the Freedom of Expression Institute said on Friday.

"The recent passage of the Protection of State Information Bill by Parliament is a glaring reminder of this growing threat which, if signed into law by the president, would only serve to further curtail press freedom," said FXI executive director Phenyo Butale.

"The bill still does not offer journalists and whistle-blowers full protection, leaving them liable to prison terms."

Butale said the "glaring gaps" in the bill would entrench a culture of secrecy in society, lead to self-censorship among journalists, and instil fear among whistle-blowers.

"History has shown that in societies where journalists and whistle-blowers are not adequately protected, corruption thrives and transparency and good governance suffer."

The FXI statement came as the world celebrated World Press Freedom Day on May 3.

Butale said another threat to press freedom was the resolution by the ANC at its Mangaung conference to expedite the progress towards the proposed Media Appeals Tribunal.

"Through the veil of improved accountability in the print media, the government will increase its dominance over the press and in turn, over those would hold it to account," he said.

 

-Sapa

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