The recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry in regard to Undesirable Publications create another grave threat to the liberties of the people and constitute an unwarranted attack on the liberty of expression, said Chief A. J. Lutuli, President-General of the African National Congress, in an interview with New Age.
"The Commission seems to have laid great stress on the necessity of safeguarding moral standards by suggesting fatuous legislation when it is a universally accepted fact that moral standards can be protected only by a decent standard of life economically, socially and culturally and by a sound educational system which ensures compulsory higher education for all people," he said.
No responsible person, he added, questioned the right of the state to take reasonable steps to control the abuse of freedom of expression in its various forms, but the recommendations of the Commission contained proposals that went far beyond the limits of reasonableness and justice.
"The proposed measures of control and punishment of offenders are dangerously drastic and far-reaching. They provide state control of literature which is likely to suppress literary talent and isolate the country from the progressive and stimulating influence of world art and literature."
Chief Lutuli said that the position was made worse by the recommendation to give authority and control to semi-judicial officials, a measure which would accentuate the strong undemocratic tendency in Union legislation.
"The recommendation that the proposed Board receive the right to judge publications relating to political and race relations matters, if put into effect, will inevitably lead to further oppression of political organisations opposed to the Nationalists.
"I urge the Government to reject the recommendations and to allow instead the spirit of the immortal words of Milton to guide future legislation: Give me the liberty to know, to utter and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties."
"On behalf of the African National Congress I call upon the people to vigorously condemn and oppose the Commissions recommendations."