27 July 2007

Submission to Ministerial Review Commission on Intelligence

In June 2007 SAHA made a submission to the Ministerial Review Commission on Intelligence following its call for papers on a number of topics including the balance between secrecy and transparency of intelligence bodies. The submission principally addressed the issue of the need for greater transparency in activities undertaken by intelligence services by ensuring the paramountcy of the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2000.

In particular, SAHA urged the Review Commission to ensure that the Protection of Information Act and any other legislation providing for or restricting access to information is consistent with PAIA and is adequate in giving effect to the Constitutional right of access to information. We submitted that requests for access to information subject to classification categories or governed by legislation subject to the review process must be considered in terms of PAIA, and any refusals of access to information be grounded upon an exemption contained in PAIA, for example, upon prejudice to defence, security or international relations of the republic rather than upon a category of classification.

Further, SAHA urged the Review Commission to:

  • Submit records to a proactive declassification process on a periodic basis to ensure that information is not subject to restricted access unnecessarily and access procedures are not inappropriately delayed.
  • Instigate an archival audit which ensures that all historical and contemporary records, whether on microfilm or otherwise, are indexed and filed in accordance with the requirements of the National Archives and Records Service Act, and which identifies which records may be voluntarily released without submission of a PAIA request.
  • Give special attention and priority to determining the status of and facilitating access to apartheid-era documentation that may shed further light on the context, causes and nature of violations perpetrated during the conflicts of the past.

SAHA's submission has been made available on the Review Commission's website. To view a copy please go to http://www.intelligence.gov.za/commission/Submissions/Submissions.asp

For more information concerning the submission please contact
Kate Allan on 011 717 1941 or 082 977 7401.