Apartheid legislation only serves to undermine freedom of speech – Media Trust
The Namibia Media Trust (NMT) welcomes the High Court judgement rejecting the attempt of the Namibia Central Intelligence Service (NCIS) to prevent The Patriot newspaper from publishing a report about alleged dubious land deals, which also involve retired Central Intelligence Service operatives, on the part of that government agency.
The NMT further calls on government to repeal the 1982 Protection of Information Act and to review the Namibia Central Intelligence Act of 1997, both of which were used to invoke their charges against The Patriot. It is clear from the judgement that these types of laws have the potential to cover up illegal acts of corruption as they inhibit maximum access to information and subsequently public scrutiny of wrongdoing. Thus, the judgement is clear testimony that these Acts are inimical to democratic commitments to freedom of media and expression as guaranteed in our Constitutional Bill of Rights.
The potentially serious criminal penalties attached to the Protection of Information Act in particular have a chilling effect on the work of journalists reporting freely in the public interest, and further flies in the face of our democratic. We are therefore heartened by the judgment which not only displays the independence of our judiciary, but also adds to a growing body of jurisprudence on free expression.
The NMT impresses upon government its responsibility to provide an enabling environment for media freedom and free expression for all citizens and, in this light, calls on government to speedily review portions of these laws which undermine constitutionally entrenched rights to free speech as well as access to information, and to strike the apartheid-era Protection of Information Act from the statute books.