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Saturday, September 4, 2010

It's the commies, stupid

South Africa is poised to sharply clamp down on freedom of speech and press with two laws in the offing: one criminalizes reporting on wide areas of official information; the other sets up a media tribunal for imposing penalties on journalists deemed to have violated government rules.

The Protection of Official Information measure would give broad powers to the government to classify almost any information involving an organ of state in the interests of national security. It prescribes penalties of up to 25 years in jail for those disclosing protected information, refusing to reveal their sources, or even attempting to uncover protected information.

The ruling African National Congress is also proposing the establishment of a Media Appeals Tribunal which would have the power to sanction journalists for misconduct. 

Clearly, the true reason for these measures is political. The ruling African National Congress intends to keep ruling and to deter unfavorable disclosures. Invocation of such authority will surely lend ammunition to those who argue that the ANC is harking back to the days when it was known to be riddled with communists.

More here: 

Attacks on journalists and press freedom are the norm globally. About the best I can do on this matter is to now and then publish a representative sprinkling of links to International Freedom of Information Exchange alerts.

However, IFEX only rarely receives alerts from U.S.-based journalists, though there is no shortage of  wrongs against the press and the public's right to know in this country. I encourage more U.S. journalists to use IFEX.
Witness missing after editor disappears.

Chinese reporters battered.

Pay off, or we'll blow up your newspaper.

Jordan forced to curb 'cybercrime' crackdown.

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