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 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.
It is surely not overstating matters to call this a watershed judgment. Consider, for example, the argument put up by Namibia’s national intelligence services at the high court and again at the country’s top court: once “secrecy and national security” were at stake, they said, the courts were powerless to do anything other than order suppression of any publication that might infringe such security.