Media News - Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Nearly half of South Africans believe proposed secrecy laws would curtail media freedom and make it easier for government officials to hide corruption – while just 13 percent disagree, a survey has found. The research group Ipsos discovered widespread concern about the African National Congress's (ANC) protection of state information bill (pdf), which has been branded a "secrecy bill" by activists, journalists and writers locally and abroad. Its poll found that 44 percent of South Africans believe that the bill will limit media freedom, while 29 percent remain neutral, 14 percent have no opinion and 13 percent think it will not restrict freedom. Some 46 percent of South Africans are also of the opinion that, if the new bill becomes law, officials will find it less difficult to conceal graft and fraud. The proposed laws, which could make journalists and whistleblowers vulnerable to jail terms of up to 25 years, are currently held up by wrangling at a parliamentary committee. The bill was passed last year by parliament's national assembly but is yet to be debated by the national council of provinces. Last month several countries registered concern at a meeting of the UN Human Rights Commission. Opponents have warned that it could have a "chilling effect" on freedom of the press in other African countries. (The Guardian)
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