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Interception of Communications Bill - Index of articles
might legislate the monitoring of phones and mail
June 13, 2007
the Index of articles on the Interception of Communications Bill
yesterday began debating a law empowering authorities to monitor
phones, mail and the internet to protect national security, a move
seen by critics as part of an official crackdown on the opposition.
While human rights groups
are concerned that the government of Robert Mugabe, the president,
will use the Interception of Communications bill to infringe on
privacy and further trample freedom of speech, officials have described
it as integral to fighting crime.
"We are all subject
to this law ... and the country needs to act against those who use
technology to commit crime as is the norm globally," Chris
Mushowe, the transport and communication minister told parliament.
SA has similar legislation
He noted that the United States, Britain and South Africa had similar
legislation. The bill is expected to be passed by the lower house
of parliament today and then go on to the upper chamber. Mugabe's
government, which has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980,
has a two-thirds majority in both houses.
If passed, the bill will
give the state the authority to monitor the phones and mail of anyone
suspected of threatening national security or involvement in criminal
activities. Critics say the bill is motivated by Mugabe's desire
to punish and keep closer tabs on the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), Zimbabwe's main opposition party, amid rising unrest in the
economically strapped southern African nation.
Undemocratic laws: opposition
Opposition legislators said that they feared the government would
abuse the law. "This law is about the interception of fundamental
rights of our citizens and this house should refuse such frivolous
and undemocratic laws," said Nelson Chamisa, one of only a
handful of MDC legislators who participated in the debate.
"The law will be
used as an arrow aimed against trade unions, civil society, media
and political parties involved in genuine political engagements,"
yesterday also approved the Suppression of Foreign and International
Terrorism Bill, which the government said would enable the country
to fight international terrorism and mercenary activities. - Reuters
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