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Interception of Communications Bill - Index of articles
groups slam Communications Bill
Matikinye, The Zimbabwe Independent
August 25, 2006
THE Media Alliance
of Zimbabwe (MAZ), a group of media organisations, together with
the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (Zinef) have said the Interception
of Communications Bill 2006 is intrusive and has no place in
a democratic society.
In a submission
to the Parliamentary Legal Committee, the MAZ and Zinef said the
Bill impinges on individual freedoms and liberties and is therefore
"The Bill seeks
to discard the fundamental rights and freedoms or civil liberties
of ordinary citizens, including the right to free communication,"
the media groups’ submission says.
The proposed legislation
is seen as part of a raft of existing measures that have severely
undermined freedom of expression and information in Zimbabwe such
Union of Journalists, the Media
Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, and the Media
Institute of Southern Africa (Misa-Zimbabwe), while Zinef groups
editors in the independent media.
In their submission,
the media bodies contest the constitutionality of sections of the
Bill saying they replicate provisions of the Postal and Telecommunications
Act that were struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court
"It follows that
this Bill is unconstitutional in as far as it violates Section 20
of the Constitution (which safeguards) universally accepted principles
of freedom of expression, freedom of information and independence
of the media from undue state interference," the MAZ/Zinef document
submitted, to PLC chair Professor Welshman Ncube this week, says.
The media groups
said the "measures proposed in the legislation are arbitrary, unfair
and disproportionate to the objective of containing serious crime".
The Bill claims to be part of measures to combat crime.
is no fresh mischief to be combated in Zimbabwe. Interference with
the communications of its citizens is, therefore, patently unnecessary
and unreasonable," they said.
The Bill makes
no provision for judicial supervision and provides for judicial
intervention after the right has been violated and a loss has occurred,
the submission says. Provisions allowing the minister to grant authorisation
to intercept information is tantamount to usurpation of judicial
authority by the executive in violation of the concept of separation
of powers and the checks and balances which form part of that concept,
To compound the
issue, there is no provision for review by any other democratically
established arm of the state. The traditional safeguards against
the negative effects of a search and the traditional protection
of privacy have not been incorporated into the legislation.
notes that the Bill reincarnates provisions in the Postal and Telecommunications
Act struck down by the Supreme Court by merely shifting responsibility
from the President to the Chief of Defence Intelligence or his or
her nominee; the Director-General of the President’s department
responsible for national security or his or her nominee; the Commissioner
of the Zimbabwe Republic Police or his or her nominee; and the Commissioner-General
of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority or his or her nominee.
says the situation is worsened by the fact that there is already
in place legislation such as the Public Order and Security Act,
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and others that
severely restrict democratic space.
other human rights defenders have been arrested, newspapers have
been closed and private property has been acquired in circumstances
which violate human rights," the submission says.
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