TSHWANE Principles: Global Principles on National Security and the Right to Information

13 06 19 Tshwane PrinciplesGiven the ‘war on terror’ [which is a ‘propaganda induced collective hallucination’] for the sake of ‘national security’, you may find these 50 principles important. Since ‘disclosure’ is nearly ALWAYS a major issue in virtually all court cases I have come across, I do find it all rather intriguing in our ‘interesting times’. Technology makes everything more transparent and accessible. ‘Access’, ‘passwords’ and ‘keys’ count more than words. But I guess it’s better to have people think, talk and write about these issues than NOT!  The 22 partner organisations are listed at the end, with links!

At the same time, I am asking myself whether these principles might become applicable in the context of child snatching, where the secrecy of the family courts hides everything – for the sake of the ‘interest of the child’, supposedly. But I guess #childsnatchuk is not a question of ‘national security’… ‘Thinking in silos’… However, whistleblowers are a new kind of ‘victims turned starfighters’, just as I have come across ‘innovation victims’ on this alliance and resistance page. We must stay tuned on many fronts, methinks!

These Principles were developed in order to provide guidance to those engaged in drafting, revising, or implementing laws or provisions relating to the state’s authority to withhold information on national security grounds or to punish the disclosure of such information.

They are based on international (including regional) and national law, standards, good practices, and the writings of experts.

They address national security—rather than all grounds for withholding information. All other public grounds for restricting access should at least meet these standards.

These Principles were drafted by 22 organizations and academic centres (listed in the Annex) in consultation with more than 500 experts from more than 70 countries at 14 meetings held around the world, facilitated by the Open Society Justice Initiative, and in consultation with the four special rapporteurs on freedom of expression and/or media freedom and the special rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights:
 the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression,
 the UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights,
 the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information,
 the Organization of American States (OAS) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, and
 the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Representative on Freedom of the Media.

PART I: General Principles

Principle 1: Right to Information

Principle 2: Application of these Principles

Principle 3: Requirements for Restricting the Right to Information on National Security Grounds

Principle 4: Burden on Public Authority to Establish Legitimacy of Any Restriction

Principle 5: No Exemption for Any Public Authority

Principle 6: Access to Information by Oversight Bodies

Principle 7: Resources

Principle 8: States of Emergency

PART II: Information that may be withheld on National Security Grounds, and Information that should be Disclosed

Principle 9: Information that Legitimately May Be Withheld

Principle 10: Categories of Information with a High Presumption or Overriding Interest in Favor of Disclosure

PART III.A: Rules Regarding Classification and Declassification of Information

Principle 11: Duty to State Reasons for Classifying Information

Principle 12: Public Access to Classification Rules

Principle 13: Authority to Classify

Principle 14: Facilitating Internal Challenges to Classification

Principle 15: Duty to Preserve, Manage, and Maintain National Security Information

Principle 16: Time Limits for Period of Classification

Principle 17: Declassification Procedures

PART III.B: Rules Regarding Handling of Requests for Information

Principle 18: Duty to Consider Request Even If Information Has Been Classified

Principle 19: Duty to Confirm or Deny

Principle 20: Duty to State Reasons for Denial in Writing

Principle 21: Duty to Recover or Reconstruct Missing Information

Principle 22: Duty to Disclose Parts of Documents

Principle 23: Duty to Identify Information Withheld

Principle 24: Duty to Provide Information in Available Formats

Principle 25: Time Limits for Responding to Information Requests

Principle 26: Right to Review of Decision Withholding Information

PART IV: Judicial Aspects of National Security and Right to Information

Principle 27: General Judicial Oversight Principle

Principle 28: Public Access to Judicial Processes

Principle 29: Party Access to Information in Criminal Proceedings

Principle 30: Party Access to Information in Civil Cases

PART V: Bodies that Oversee the Security Sector

Principle 31: Establishment of Independent Oversight Bodies

Principle 32: Unrestricted Access to Information Necessary for Fulfillment of Mandate

Principle 33: Powers, Resources and Procedures Necessary to Ensure Access to Information

Principle 34: Transparency of Independent Oversight Bodies

Principle 35: Measures to Protect Information Handled by Security Sector Oversight Bodies

Principle 36: Authority of the Legislature to Make Information Public

PART VI: Public Interest Disclosures by Public Personnel

Principle 36: Authority of the Legislature to Make Information Public

(a) criminal offences;
(b) human rights violations;
(c) international humanitarian law violations;
(d) corruption;
(e) dangers to public health and safety;
(f) dangers to the environment;
(g) abuse of public office;
(h) miscarriages of justice;
(i) mismanagement or waste of resources;
(j) retaliation for disclosure of any of the above listed categories of wrongdoing; and
(k) deliberate concealment of any matter falling into one of the above categories.

Principle 38: Grounds, Motivation, and Proof for Disclosures of Information Showing Wrongdoing

Principle 39: Procedures for Making and Responding to Protected Disclosures Internally or to Oversight Bodies

Principle 40: Protection of Public Disclosures

Principle 41: Protection against Retaliation for Making Disclosures of Information Showing Wrongdoing

Principle 42: Encouraging and Facilitating Protected Disclosures

Principle 43: Public Interest Defence for Public Personnel

PART VII: Limits on Measures to Sanction or Restrain the Disclosure of Information to the Public

Principle 44: Protection Against Penalties for Good Faith, Reasonable Disclosure by Information Officers

Principle 45: Penalties for Destruction of, or Refusal to Disclose, Information

Principle 46: Limitations on Criminal Penalties for the Disclosure of Information by Public Personnel

Principle 47: Protection Against Sanctions for the Possession and Dissemination of Classified Information by Persons Who Are Not Public Personnel

Principle 48: Protection of Sources

Principle 49: Prior Restraint

PART VIII: Concluding Principle

Principle 50: Relation of These Principles to Other Standards

Partner Organisations:

Africa Freedom of Information Centre (Kampala/Africa);
African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF) (Cape Town/Africa)
Alianza Regional por la Libre Expresión e Información (Americas)
Amnesty International (London/global);
Article 19, the Global Campaign for Free Expression (London/global);
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum Asia) (Bangkok/Asia);
Center for National Security Studies (Washington DC/United States);
Central European University (Budapest/ Europe);
Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), Wits University (Johannesburg/South Africa);
Centre for European Constitutionalization and Security (CECS), University of Copenhagen (Copenhagen/Europe);
Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria (Pretoria/Africa);
Centre for Law and Democracy (Halifax/global);
Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (Islamabad/Pakistan);
Centre for Studies on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information (CELE), Palermo University School of Law (Buenos Aires/Argentina);
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (New Delhi/Commonwealth);
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (Cairo/Egypt);
Institute for Defence, Security and Peace Studies (Jakarta/Indonesia);
Institute for Security Studies (Pretoria/Africa);
International Commission of Jurists (Geneva/global);
National Security Archive (Washington DC/global);
Open Democracy Advice Centre (Cape Town/Southern Africa); and
Open Society Justice Initiative (New York/global).



About Sabine Kurjo McNeill

I'm a mathematician and system analyst formerly at CERN in Geneva and became an event organiser, software designer, independent web publisher and online promoter of Open Justice. My most significant scientific contribution is www.smartknowledge.space
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One Response to TSHWANE Principles: Global Principles on National Security and the Right to Information

  1. Roger Gough says:

    The front page story in’The Guardian’ today serves only to highlight the problem. An innovative display tendered for The London Olympics was ignored – until it appeared as one of the centrepieces of the opening ceremony when it was attributed to someone completely different. A typical British approach.

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