The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers has called for global solidarity with the South African press.
The global organisation condemned the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill which will affect the independence of journalists and operations of a free press.
The statements by the WAN-IFRA were made public today, June 7, 2017 in a press release. These comments comes ahead of the 69th World News Media Congress happening in Durban, South Africa.
The WAN-IFRA board describes this CyberCrime bill as an “assault on the right to digital privacy”.
“WAN-IFRA has expressed its deep concern that the government is considering a range of measures “that will intimidate the press, promote self-censorship and silence criticism,” it said in the release.
The Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill was first proposed in August, 2015 with the intention to curb cybercrime and create a safe online environment for South Africans. However, this bill won’t affect only the press, it’ll affect everyone (individuals and organisations) with a computer and Internet access.
This is not the only bill the press body has issues with. There’s also the Film & Publication Board Amendment Bill which gives the state power to censor content; the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill which criminalizes mocking or making jest of authority figures.
The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers known for defending press freedom as called the South African government to find better ways to work with the press.
“In order to address the shrinking space for independent journalism, WAN-IFRA has urged the South African authorities to adopt a more open, inclusive approach to dialogue and to work with media, legal and civil society organisations to craft legislation that seeks to enable, rather than restrict, a more positive environment for freedom of expression”.