Business Day reports that government is considering creating a limited public interest override in the Protection of Information Bill, known as the secrecy bill because it limits access to government information and threatens transparency, accountability and media freedom.
While this override is a concession to public demand, it is still not enough to ensure a public interest defence. As per the bill, anyone disclosing classified information will face substantial prison terms.
A special parliamentary ad hoc committee dealing with the bill met on 16 November. Under consideration was aligning the secrecy bill with the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), which contains a limited public interest override. However, this only applies where someone is “actively seeking the information’ and not where information has been leaked.