South Africa’s National Assembly passed a bill on Tuesday that would “protect” state information and potentially impose 25-year criminal sentences on journalists who publish or possess state documents that the South African government deems to be secret.
The ruling African National Congress hailed the bill as a necessary measure to protect South Africa’s national security information from foreign spies. But news organizations and civil society groups saw the bill’s passage as a dangerous weakening of the hard-fought freedoms South Africans gained after the fall of the apartheid government.
During legislative debate, opposition Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said, "If passed, this bill will unstitch the very fabric of our constitution. It will criminalize the freedoms that so many of our people fought for."
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