Freedom House is deeply concerned with the passing of the Protection of State Information Bill in South Africa’s National Assembly. The passing of the Bill is indicative of an increasingly worrying trajectory on press freedom in a country once viewed as a model for democratic governance in Southern Africa.
On Monday, South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority announced its intent to investigate President Robert Mugabe’s political party Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) for crimes against humanity, following allegations of a campaign of mass rape during the months around Zimbabwe’s 2008 elections. Freedom House commends South Africa’s demonstration of its human rights obligations in this decision and hopes that the investigation will dissuade further use of violence as a strategy in its upcoming elections.
The International Partnership on Freedom of Expression in South Africa, a delegation of regional and international rights groups, raised their opposition to a proposed secrecy bill and threats of state regulation of the press during a joint mission to South Africa from Sept. 8-14. The Partnership met with stakeholders from the media industry, the ANC and opposition parties, and civil society to discuss the proposed Protection of State Information Bill and media regulation developments.
Freedom House released an analysis of democracy in sub-Saharan Africa showing that the region has experienced notable increases in freedom over the past generation, although more setbacks than gains were seen in 2006.
In September 2012, Freedom House led an International Freedom of Expression Mission to South Africa in order to address ongoing concerns about the passage of the repressive Protection of State Information Bill and the implementation of a government-controlled Media Appeals Tribunal. T