30 March 2016

SAHA proposes critical amendments to PAIA


The enactment of a bill, essentially creates an Act which has the teeth of law behind it. Fortunately even laws need to visit the dentist when their teeth prevent them from functioning correctly. The South African History Archive (SAHA) went about answering a call for submissions by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to bolster their section 83 recommendations.

The SAHRC is able to exercise its rights under section 83 of the Promotion of Access to Information, 2000 (PAIA) without any assistance from the public. Section 83 (3) provides that the Human Rights Commission may make recommendations for the development, improvement. modernisation, reform or amendment of this Act or other legislation or common law having a bearing on access to information held by public and private bodies, respectively.

However this year the Promotion of Access to Information Civil Society Network (PAIA CSN) received a call for submissions to the SAHRC on 19 February 2016 on possible Amendments to PAIA to be suggested to parliament.  Unfortunately due to time constraints the PAIA CSN could not submit joint recommendations and each member took it upon itself to submit their recommendations.

SAHA has a great track record when it comes to submissions. It has in the past made submissions to the National Assemblies Ad hoc committee as well as the National Council of Provinces on the Secrecy Bill, a submission on the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill and a submission to Parliament on the Protection of Personal Information Bill. SAHA has also made submissions as an Amicus to the Constitutional Court in two matters, the first being the famous Brummer case and the second being the Nkandla litigation case brought by the Mail and Guardian. In addition to this has jointly published submissions with civil society partners, in as a member of the PAIA CSN and as a member of the South African Coalition for Transitional Justice (SACTJ).

Thus being no stranger to submissions SAHA tasked the Freedom of Information Project (FOIP) team to put together the submission, which it swiftly did. We hope that hard work of the FOIP team does not go unrewarded and that the submission is capable of having the desired impact of addressing concerns surrounding PAIA at this moment in time. 

>Access the submission here