The Democratic Alliance (DA) will raise concerns expressed by member states of the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) about the Secrecy Bill in the Ad Hoc Committee in the National Council of Provinces when it sits for deliberation today.
According to the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Andries Nel, member states of the international human rights body expressed concern over the Secrecy Bill’s “potential dampening effect” on press freedom.
The Deputy Minister tried to allay these fears by stating that this was not the purpose of the Bill. Whether or not it is the purpose of the Bill is debatable. The fact remains that the Bill in its current form still poses a significant threat to human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Constitution.
The concerns raised in the UNHRC discussions provide greater impetus to the committee to make further changes to the Bill to ensure that it is brought in line with the Constitution.
The DA will continue its push for such amendments, including strengthening the watered down public interest defence clause, which does not adequately protect journalists and whistle-blowers from persecution.