CIVIL SOCIETY SHOULD NOT BE SPIED UPON

Issued by the FW de Klerk Foundation on 20/02/2024

 

Today, Parliament heard oral submissions on the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill (“the GILAB”). The GILAB was open for public comment until 15 February 2024.

Calling for substantial amendments to the Bill, the FW de Klerk Foundation also pointed out that the GILAB suffers from various fundamental flaws – such as the fact that “threat” is undefined and that it is rife with circular definitions, which make it unworkable and contrary to the rule of law.

Addressing Parliament’s Ad Hoc Committee dealing with the Bill, Daniela Ellerbeck, Manager of Constitutional Programmes at the Foundation, stated that, “The Foundation’s substantive concerns with the Bill can be divided into two main categories, namely category 1: the Bill’s problematic definitions and category 2: the Bill’s compulsory vetting investigations of persons or institutions suspected of being threats or potential threats to national security.”

Ellerbeck highlighted the fact that “threat to national security” is defined in the Bill as including “subversion and undue influence by hostile interests on Government processes, policies and the sovereignty of the State and its organs”, but that it fails to exclude and protect “lawful political activity, advocacy, protest or dissent”.

The result is that, due to the wide definitions of ‘threat to national security’ and ‘national security’, these clauses could allow for civil society organisations and those working for them, to be seen by the Agency as persons or institutions of national security interest and to be subjected to a vetting investigation”, Ellerbeck told Parliament.

In its presentation, the Foundation pointed out that, “The changes the Bill wishes to ask Parliament to make… directly infringe upon various constitutional rights” and “will result in the State being able to spy on anyone it deems to be a “threat to national security” (without ever telling the people spied upon it has done so) – i.e. civil society, activists, religious organisations, journalists and even private businesses etc.”

 

                                                                                                            Read the full speech to Parliament here.

                                                                                                                  See the presentation slides here.

                                                                                                                 Watch the oral presentation here.