Freedom of expression

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The South African government’s draft PROTECTION OF INFORMATION BILL – if allowed to go unchallenged – will seriously undermine the legitimacy of the constitution, especially in terms of freedom of expression, access to information, and the right to pass on that information, whenever it concerns issues such as tender irregularities, abuse of state funds, and assorted acts of corruption by those in power.

Of greater concern, however, is the fact that this bill will give all state departments the power to classify information. Therein lies the rub, as any information with the potential to uncover corruption, could be tagged as `OFFICIALLY SECRET' and subsequently, damage-controlled, by the threat of long-term imprisonment for anyone who dares to go public with it. And based on the volume of media reports, web postings, peaceful protests and night vigils, it would be safe to say that most South Africans see the bill, as nothing more than a smokescreen to shield corrupt officials from public scrutiny.

The images supporting this article were shot on Saturday, 5 November 2011, during a peaceful march through the city of Durban. The march was co-ordinated by RIGHT 2 KNOW, an organisation which was founded almost a year ago