LETTER: Embarrassing classification

by | Jun 19, 2023 | General | 0 comments

The ramifications of the visit of the vessel “Lady R” to Simon’s Town last December continue to reverberate in the halls of power in SA. Ours is a constitutional democracy in which the rule of law is regarded as supreme. We have a system of governance that aspires to be open, accountable, and responsive. Decisions that are made must serve a legitimate purpose of government to pass the rationality test at the heart of the doctrine of legality.

The recently announced decision to classify the entire report of the inquiry into the cargo of Lady R defies rationality (“A secret Lady R report will not be in line with past practice”, June 7). The report does not exist yet, and the possibility of redacting such passages in it as may jeopardise the security of the state does not appear to have been considered. Far more plausible at this stage is that the report is going to be an embarrassment to those involved, and to those who may have turned a blind eye to the goings on in the harbour at Simon’s Town.

Mere embarrassment does not justify the classification of the whole of the yet-to-be-prepared report of the commission of inquiry. It is only when the security of the state is threatened by disclosure of specific material that the classification of that specific material is justified in law.

Paul Hoffman, SC
Accountability Now

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