It told MPs that while it “appreciated important proposed amendments”, such as narrower grounds for classification and the introduction of “balance” between the needs for openness and transparency and preserving state secrets, it remained “gravely concerned about many remaining aspects… and their potential effects on our democratic state”. It cited five aspects of the bill that could “seriously restrict the free flow of information from” the government.
Giving “all organs of state” the power to classify state information was “a recipe for extensive and unnecessary classification that would be almost impossible to oversee because there is as yet no provision for a credible, independent body to review or hear appeals against decisions to classify information… nor any effective mechanism for citizens or civil society to hold officials to account for their interpretation and use of the powers to classify”.
Sanef said the power to classify should be limited to organs dealing with national security and not to bodies that might use it to prevent people accessing information that “might merely be inconvenient to have in the public domain”.
Minimum penalties for unlawful disclosure of classified information were “unacceptably harsh”. – IOL News