Secrecy bill: Gandhi kin slams South Africa
Times of India
By Ashish Ray
LONDON: Mahatma Gandhi's granddaughter and former South African parliamentarian Ela Gandhi has slammed the South African government's plans to pass a secrecy bill that would "muzzle freedom of speech and investigative journalism".
"I believe what you can't do in public you shouldn't do at all. That is what Gandhi always maintained and it should apply to government today," she said in Johannesburg.
The Protection of State Information Bill prescribes penalties of up to 25 years in jail for whistleblowers and journalists who possess, leak or publish state secrets. It is being cited as the first piece of legislation since the emancipation of non-whites in South Africa.
Governments are supposed to protect the whistleblowers as they are often becoming targets of victimization and attacks. Government of India's RTI Act (Right to Information act) has eased out to some extent on obtaining information about public pleas and activities but unfortunately around hundreds of RTI activists have been attacked, killed or victimized so far since the bill is introduced. Whistleblowers are more than just RTI activists and they need protection not penalties or curbing measures.
SA government's move is the worst precedent for any government to deal with the freedom of expression and freedom of investigation, more specifically.