APARTHEID LAWS HAMPER FREE EXPRESSION
The South African government regularly uses laws such as the Protection of Information Act and the Armaments Development and Production Act to prevent media from accessing information that may be in the public interest, FXI says. It also uses apartheid-era laws to force journalists into divulging their sources of information, and to ban public assemblies and demonstrations.
FXI is preparing to launch two legal actions challenging these laws. The first will challenge the constitutionality of the Regulation of Gatherings Act, under which authorities can bar individuals and organisations deemed "radical" from participating in demonstrations.
FXI's second legal action will seek to establish the principle that journalists should not be subpoenaed to give evidence before judicial or quasi-judicial panels except as a last resort. This is in response to the government-appointed Hefer Commission that investigated allegations last year that the National Director of Public Prosecutions was an apartheid spy. At least six journalists were summoned, including the reporter who initially revealed the allegations.
"Journalists should not be made to reveal their confidential sources of information unless the public advantage to be gained by doing so outweighs the public prejudice thereby caused by violating the right to media freedom," argues FXI.
Read FXI's recent report on its activities: http://www.fxi.org.za/