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South African prelate warns against bill on state secrets

Catholic World News - January 20, 2012

A South African prelate is urging Catholics to oppose the Protection of State Information Bill, which is under consideration in the nation’s legislature.

“The Bill comprehensively protects the State Security Agency from public scrutiny because it allows the Agency itself to decide what it wishes to be kept secret,” said Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town, the nation’s legislative capital. “Any illegal activity by the Agency could therefore easily be hidden from scrutiny and from the legal process.”

“Severe punitive action can be taken against whistleblowers and journalists if they are in possession of, or publish material, that is deemed classified information, even if it is within the public’s interest to know about it,” he added. “As the Catholic Church in Cape Town we have the duty to continue opposing this Bill, not only as members of civil society, but also because there is a moral imperative to serve the common good. This Bill does not serve the interests of the nation and can be used to damage our democracy and lead us on the road, once again, to a Security State.”

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