Quote of the week

Although judicial proceedings will generally be bound by the requirements of natural justice to a greater degree than will hearings before administrative tribunals, judicial decision-makers, by virtue of their positions, have nonetheless been granted considerable deference by appellate courts inquiring into the apprehension of bias. This is because judges ‘are assumed to be [people] of conscience and intellectual discipline, capable of judging a particular controversy fairly on the basis of its own circumstances’: The presumption of impartiality carries considerable weight, for as Blackstone opined at p. 361 in Commentaries on the Laws of England III . . . ‘[t]he law will not suppose possibility of bias in a judge, who is already sworn to administer impartial justice, and whose authority greatly depends upon that presumption and idea’. Thus, reviewing courts have been hesitant to make a finding of bias or to perceive a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of a judge, in the absence of convincing evidence to that effect.

L'Heureux-Dube and McLachlin JJ
Livesey v The New South Wales Bar Association [1983] HCA 17; (1983) 151 CLR 288
23 November 2011

CASAC statement on Secrecy Bill

MEDIA STATEMENT – POSIB

23 November 2011

The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC) remains concerned about aspects of the Protection of State Information Bill (POSIB) that was passed by the National Assembly yesterday. In particular our concern focuses on the implications of the POSIB for the right to access to information enshrined in section 32 of the Constitution and regulated by the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

Many ordinary South Africans and a broad range of civil society organisations have demonstrated their vigilance and expressed their reservations about the POSIB. Whilst the National Assembly has so far failed to heed the calls for a revision of the Bill, we hope that the National Council of Provinces will do so.

Should the POSIB be passed in its current form in the National Council of Provinces, we call on President Zuma not to assent to it and instead to exercise his power and responsibilities under section 79 of the Constitution to refer the matter back to the National Assembly for further consideration. Should the reconsideration by the National Assembly fail to cure the defects in the legislation, we would urge the President to refer the POSIB to the Constitutional Court for a decision on its constitutionality.

This is an important piece of legislation that is necessary to protect legitimate state secrets and to protect the sovereign integrity of our nation. It should not contain elements that undermine the constitutional rights of ordinary people.

Enquiries:

Lawson Naidoo          073 158 5736

Masutane Modjadji   076 937 0825

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