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This article participates on the following special index pages:
Interception of Communications Bill - Index of articles
of Communications Bill Gazetted
May 29, 2006
government, in a Government Gazette released on 26 May 2006,
has gazetted an Interception
of Communications Bill, 2006. The Bill, if passed by the Parliament
of Zimbabwe, seeks to make it legal for state agencies to spy and
intercept telephone conversations, postal items and e-mail messages
of private citizens.
The Bill also
seeks to empower the chief of defence intelligence, the director-general
of the Central Intelligence Organisation, the Commissioner of Police
and the Commissioner General of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority to
intercept telephonic, e-mail and mobile phone messages. The above
persons who occupy critical offices in terms of the economic and
political security of the state shall be empowered to make representations
to the Minister (of Transport and Communications or any other Minister
to whom the functions can be assigned by the President) for the
interception of specified persons communications.
The Bill further
seeks to create a monitoring centre whose function shall be to facilitate
authorised interception of communications.
The Bill intends
to allow for the issuance of a warrant of interception on reasonable
grounds or belief that a serious offence has been or is being or
will be committed or that there is a threat to safety or "national
security" of the country or the information might be of compelling
national economic interests of the country. Such a warrant will
be valid for 3 months and can be renewed every month until such
a time that the intended interception has been undertaken.
notes that the gazetting of the Bill is most unfortunate as it comes
in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling in 2004 which declared unconstitutional
Sections 98 and 103 of the Posts and Telecommunications (PTC) Act.
These sections of the PTC Act provided for the interception of communications
if the President of Zimbabwe in the interests of national security
and the maintenance of law and order. This legal challenge was brought
to the Supreme Court and won by the Law Society of Zimbabwe on the
basis that the aforementioned clauses of the PTC Act violated Sections
18 and 20 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
Section 18 guarantees
the right of an accused person to a fair trial while Section 20
guarantees freedom of expression that is defined as the freedom
to receive and impart ideas without interference.
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