Module 9: National Security
Summary Modules on Digital Rights and Freedom of Expression Online in sub-Saharan Africa
- “National security” is one of the most common justifications offered by states for limiting freedom of expression by journalists, bloggers, and media organs. 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 only 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.