23 September 2010

Right2Know campaign launched

The government has been attempting to pass into law the Protection of Information Bill in spite of continued calls for its withdrawal and vocal criticism from various sectors in the community, including Nobel laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nadine Gordimer. In order to coordinate the efforts of civil society in protesting the Bill, the Right2Know Campaign was created as a way of strengthening the fight against this draconian piece of legislation. The Freedom of Information Programme at SAHA has joined the Steering Committee for this campaign.

An umbrella campaign including a broad front of civil society groups, Right to Know believes that a responsive and accountable democracy able to meet the basic needs of our people is built on transparency and the free flow of information. The Campaign is concerned that the Protection of Information Bill currently before Parliament -- the Secrecy Bill -- will fundamentally undermine hard-won constitutional rights including access to information and freedom of expression. The R2K campaign statement - "Let the truth be told. Stop the Secrecy Bill!" - was drafted following parliamentary hearings on the Bill in July. It demands that the Bill be redrafted to comply with constitutional values.

There was a launch of the campaign for the Gauteng region held at the University of Witwatersrand on 15 September 2010. At this launch the significant crowd was addressed by such activists as Advocate Pansy Tlakula, African Union Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression; Gabriella Razzano of the Freedom of Information Programme; Siphiwe Segodi of the Freedom of Expression Institute and several others. The launch marked a significant step forward for furthering the aims of the Campaign, as is more fully expressed in the Civil Society Statement of the Bill. For a summary of issues surrounding the Bill, you can see the presentation of Gabriella Razzano that was given at the launch. If you want to know more about the campaign you can go to the Right2Know website, which also outlines instructions on how you can show your support.