The Telecommunications Messages bill, also known as the ‘Spy bill’, which has raised a lot of eyebrows across the country, has drawn the attention of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA). When passed into law, the Spy bill will allow for screening of private conversations of citizens by security agencies.
Unconvinced with the current conditions in the bill, the GBA has released a statement demanding the amendment of some parts of the bill if it should be passed into law. The association admitted the fact that the bill was needed especially in these trying times. However they called for lots of adjustments which needed to be made before it should be passed into law.
The GBA realeased a statement signed by the National President Benson Nutsukpui, detailing the different legislations which were to be added as well as repealed from the bill. The association is calling for the reconciliation of the adjustments.
One of the areas the association sought repeal was a section of the bill which allowed the National Security Coordinator to orally authorise interceptions for 48 hours without any court order or warrant. This, the association found completely unacceptable and sought deletion for.
The GBA sought consolidation or repeal in the following provisions of the legislations
- Sections 43 to 51 of the Mutual Legal Assistance Act, 2010 (Act 807);
- Section 25(5) of the Economic and Organised Crime Office Act, 2010 (Act 804);
- Section 124 of the Electronic Transactions Act, 2008 (Act 772);
- Sections 73 and 100 of the Electronic Communications Act 2008, (Act 775);
- Section 34 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2008 (Act 762);
- Section 29 of the Insolvency Act, 2006 (Act 708);
- Sections 37 and 39(a) of the Postal and Courier Services Regulatory Commission Act, 2003 (Act 649);
- Sections 29 to 31 of the Security and Intelligence Agencies Act, 1996 (Act 526)
- Sections 27 to 30 of the Narcotics Drugs (Control, Enforcement and Sanctions) Act, 1990 (PNDCL 236);
- Order 60, rule 18 of the High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2004 (CI 47); and
- Regulation 6(1) of the Electronic Communications Regulations, 2011 (LI 1991).
The association also asked the parliament to consider several other statutes (listed in their statement as well) that contain protection of privacy and secrecy provisions, and how they may be affected by the bill.
The GBA, finally called for severe sanctions for any breach of the rights to privacy, as well as proper legislative harmonization.