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Interception of Communications Bill - Index of articles
Submission on Interception of Communications Bill 2006
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
September 04, 2006
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to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Communication
law has been moving towards an established conception of what are
termed communication rights. Especially protected in such rights
are the universally accepted rights to privacy and freedom of expression,
together with what are termed inclusiveness guarantees, which involve
access to information and knowledge, the right to education, the
right to protection of the cultural life of communities, and the
equal sharing of science and technology, which promote cultural,
informational and linguistic diversity. In the respect, protection,
promotion and fulfillment of all these universally acknowledged
rights, basic means of communication, such as telephones, broadcasting
and internet, are integral.
rights are thus crucial to democracy and political participation
as well as cultural identity and development, as based on the principles
of freedom, inclusiveness, diversity and participation. They are
necessary for human beings to live in freedom, justice, peace and
dignity. Further participation in political processes by having
one’s views taken into account is an integral part of equality,
which is at the core of fundamental constitutional rights.
emerging practice of passing highly repressive "counter-terrorist"
legislation in the wake of the US bombing of 9/11 has increasingly
been used as an excuse to trample on the rights of ordinary citizens
as part of the "war on terror". Even in circumstances
where such a "war on terror" is being legitimately fought
arbitrariness and unreasonableness remain unacceptable.
The fact that
many countries have legislated for the interception of communication
is not in dispute. However, this is no excuse to pass legislation
which is badly drafted, self-destructive, and disrespectful of the
fundamental rights and freedoms of the populace.
are enshrined in many international instruments which have become
widely accepted and to which Zimbabwe is party. The Constitution
of Zimbabwe carries with it the protection of the freedom of expression
and the free flow of information to and from persons. Any interception
of communication amounts to an interference with communication rights
as protected in international law and the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
Several jurisdictions have held that the interception of all communications
constitutes a serious breach of human rights. The European Court
of Human Rights has ruled on numerous occasions, that "tapping
and other forms of interception of telephone conversations constitute
a serious interference with private life and correspondence and
must accordingly be based on a law that is particularly precise".
including Zimbabwe, have unanimously adopted the Declaration of
Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa. These clarify that
Freedom of Expression and right to access information includes the
right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, either
orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any
other form of communication, including across frontiers. They further
seek to protect this freedom as a fundamental and inalienable human
right and an indispensable component of democracy, and to ensure
that everyone has an equal opportunity to exercise the rights without
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