The Committee met on a virtual platform to finalise the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Amendment (RICA) Bill. Rica dealt with the interception orders by designated judges. The Committee adopted the Bill without amendments. The Committee agreed to add a minority report that the Department’s failure to consider the introduction of a “public advocate” to assist the designated judges and bringing to their attention matters and arguments pertinent to the rights of data subjects, and that failing to consider the inclusion thereof in this Bill consequently fails to find a proper balance between state security considerations and the rights of individuals to be targeted.
It was noted this was a new concept for South African law. The Minister said this would be considered alongside various other issues.
The Chairperson greeted all the Members and outlined the agenda for the meeting.
She noted that in the meeting yesterday, the Committee received a briefing from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development on public comments on the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-related Information (Rica) Amendment Bill. One of the issues which came up was the role of public advocates. The Committee was provided with a detailed research document on the matter and the Minister responded to the issues in the meeting. In said meeting, the Department put forward that they do an analysis of the role of public advocates. This would require more time and deliberation. They would consider this matter further as they discussed the Bill. Rica dealt with the interception orders by designated judges - these were administrative decisions, not intelligence decisions in intelligence-related activities. She opened the floor for questions and considerations.
Mr G Michalakis (DA, Free State) said his concern was what was previously brought up which was using public advocates to assist judges and bring to their attention matters pertaining to their subjects, especially with the concern for privacy rights in South Africa. Not considering the introduction of such a public advocate would be failing to find balance between State Security consideration and the rights of individuals. Would the Committee support discussion on the introduction of a public advocate? He was aware that the ruling party most likely already had a position in this regard. He said that this might improve the Bill, and asked if it could be included in the report of the Committee as a minority view from the Democratic Alliance (DA), as per the House rules. This was very important, and he hoped that this would be included in the Bill.
The Chairperson responded that this was raised in the previous engagement and the Department did cover this in its 44-page document. This was a new concept for South African law. The Minister said this would be considered alongside various other issues. This required careful consideration and consultation. She thought that Members were amenable to what the Department said around this matter, as this was deliberated on already. They would note what the DA said as a minority view on the Bill.
Mr R Badenhorst (DA, Western Cape) echoed Mr Michalakis’ thoughts. He recalled the Deputy Minister saying that public advocates would be considered when reconstructing the Bill - this made it important enough. He supported the proposal.
The Chairperson acknowledged that this would be noted and called for the adoption of the Bill.
The Bill was duly adopted (without amendments), noting the objection from the DA.
Report of the Select Committee on Security and Justice on the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-related Information Amendment Bill [B 28B-2023] (National Assembly – sec 75)
The Chairperson asked if Mr Michalakis wanted to add his wording in the group chat to be used for the minority view note in the report.
This was met with a positive response.
The report was adopted.
The Chairperson thanked everyone for their time and participation. She hoped that all the comments were duly noted. She thanked the present legal teams too.
Mr E Mthethwa (ANC, KZN) noted that with a vote, one could either vote in favour of, abstain or vote against. They could not continuously make additions. He did not grasp the concept of the minority view.
The Chairperson responded that the minority view was in line with the rules of Parliament. The rules allowed for any party who was against the Bill to be captured in the report as a ‘minority view’.
Mr Michalakis said it was far too late, four years on, to not know the rules of the House.
The meeting was adjourned.
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.