Module 9: National Security
Summary Modules on Digital Rights and Freedom of Expression Online in sub-Saharan Africa
- “National security” is a common justification offered by states for limiting freedom of expression. However, it has the potential to be relied upon to quell dissent and cover up state abuses.
- National security legislation can have wide‑reaching implications for media freedom and can be used to avoid constitutional checks and balances.
- The Johannesburg and the Tshwane Principles, alongside the Siracusa Principles, provide guidance on the extent of the national security limitation in relation to media freedom although they constitute non-binding international law.
- Recent instances of terrorism have caused international decision-makers to seek to better define terrorist activities in order to ensure that justifiable limitations of fundamental rights relating to terrorism are properly prescribed by law.
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- Prior restraint, even on the grounds of national security, is unlikely to succeed in a legal challenge as a result of the precedent set by the United States Supreme Court in the Pentagon Papers case.