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Intelligence services given lesson in democracy

Publish date: 15 April 2019
Issue Number: 819
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: Litigation

Namibia's top court has delivered a decision giving notice to the country's intelligence services that they, too, fall under the aegis of a constitutional democracy. The case concerned material collected by an investigative journalist that appeared to show the Namibia Central Intelligence Service (NCIS) was involved in possible corruption. But when he asked for comment he was informed that publication of his proposed story was unlawful, and the NCIS then went to court to enforce that prohibition. As Carmel Rickard writes in her A Matter of Justice column on the Legalbrief site, the new judgment gave the Supreme Court the opportunity to explain that even the NCIS was bound by the values of an open and democratic society and could not count on the courts' blindly agreeing to banning publication even where 'not a scintilla of evidence' was provided to show that prohibition was necessary. If genuine grounds to prevent publication existed, however, these could be raised with a court behind closed doors.

A Matter of Justice