The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) celebrates the unbanning of the film ‘Of Good Report’ by the Film and Publications Appeal tribunal. The film which was originally banned by the South African Film and Publications Board due to scenes classified as child pornography, has since been screened at the Durban International Film Festival from which it was formerly banned. Continue reading
It is with great sadness that FXI mourns the loss of Former Chief Justice Pius Langa. A great man, who was humble and passionate about the law and seeing justice prevail. Pius Langa was an inspiration for all South Africans, coming from humble beginnings to be the first black judge to be appointed as head of the top Court in the land.
Pius Langa was an advocate for free speech and after retirement in 2009, he went on to Chair the Press freedom Commission. To honour his legacy, FXI will continue to highlight the importance of freedom of expression enshrined in the Bill of Rights. FXI would like to pass on our condolences to the family.
“The difference between the past and the present is that individual freedom and security no longer fall to be protected solely through the vehicle of common-law maxims and presumptions which may be altered or repealed by statute, but are now protected by entrenched constitutional provisions which neither the Legislature nor the Executive may abridge.”
― Pius Langa
Censorship by South African Film and Publication Board
The Film and Publication Board’s rigid and simplistic interpretation of the law seems to mean that even a film that exposes and opposes child abuse might be banned. We are in a Catch-22 situation: we want to discuss whether this film promotes or helps prevent abuse, but we are prevented from seeing it to decide that. We are expected to simply trust the Board and, given our history of the abuse of censorship powers, that is not going to happen. If the organizers of a reputable film festival deemed it worthy to open their proceedings, then there is an argument for the merits of this film. But that is an argument we cannot have, unless the Board allows us. It is vital that the Board’s ham-handed decision be challenged, and they be made to show that this film is so dangerous and harmful that it cannot even be shown before the limited audience of a film festival.
We have to deal with and confront issues of child abuse, not hide from them. The danger is that a ham-handed and conservative Board might impose its own predilections on the nation and try and sweep this kind of film under the carpet.
Chair, Freedom of Expression Institute
Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) has noted with growing concern the ever deteriorating state of the community media sector in South Africa. The FXI has recorded an increase in cases of internal mismanagement and negative external interference in the everyday running of community media. The institute wishes to buttress the point that under the three tier system, the public service media and community media have to be independent of both economic and political interference. Regrettably, this cannot be said with regard to the South African situation. The challenges facing the national broadcaster (SABC) are just one example of the failure of the three tier system which is accepted as a minimum requirement internationally. Continue reading
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