THE newly signed Film and Publication Amendment Act has been slammed as "a grave intrusion" on freedom of expression in this country, writes Melanie Peters in the Sunday Independent.

The Freedom of Expression Institute said that it was "deeply disappointed" that the act had been signed into law.

Executive director Melissa Moore said: "Certain sections of the amendment act fail dismally in giving effect to the right to freedom of expression and constitute a grave intrusion."

President Jacob Zuma signed the bill this week. There has been harsh criticism of certain amendments and concerns were raised by the media industry that it would criminalise freedom of expression and pave the way for pre-publication censorship.

Thabo Leshilo, the head of the media freedom committee at the SA National Editors' Forum, said yesterday that the forum would meet today.

"We will go through the act with a lawyer and we will take it from there," he said.

In January, then president Kgalema Motlanthe decided not to sign it and referred it back to the legislature.

Moore said the most intrusive element of the act was that, under the guise of the "protection of children's rights", the legislature had introduced a system of pre-publication censorship and self-censorship, which went against the letter and spirit of the constitution.

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