General News of Wednesday, 24 February 2016
Pressure group, Occupy Ghana, has petitioned the Speaker of Parliament and the Select Committee on Defence and Interior, to withdraw the interception of postal packets and telecommunication messages bill.
The bill, when passed into law will allow the country’s security agencies to listen in on private conversations of citizens.
But the Media Relations Officer for Occupy Ghana, Engineer Nana Sarpong Agyeman-Badu, says a wider consultation is needed before the bill can be finally passed.
“We see this bill as an affront to our privacy as citizens. Some aspects of the bill makes it a bit untrustworthy for others to actually implement, looking at the fact that the person who is supposed to be a National Security Coordinator who is a government appointee, could easily abuse this bill in favour of the ruling government that appointed him. We do not think there are enough regulatory acts of Parliament which can monitor the purpose this bill will serve.”
“Also the main purpose of the bill being that it protects national security and fights crime is very vague and an ambiguous statement, and it can be misinterpreted by the Executive and the National Security Coordinator. So we believe that there should be more consultation among Ghanaians from Parliament before we truly accept this bill.”
The Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), also raised similar concerns about the initial one-week allotted to members of the public by Parliament to make inputs into the bill before its passage.
Following the complaints, the bill is passed, Parliament’s Defence and Interior Committee, on Friday February 19, extended by two more weeks, the time-frame allotted for Ghanaians to submit inputs for the drafting and subsequent passage of the Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunication Messages Bill.
A Deputy Ranking Member of the Committee, Major (rtd) Derrick Oduro, told Citi News, if the public have any meaningful suggestions they can submit to the committee.
He debunked suggestions that the law will compromise citizens’ privacy, saying it is a good law needed to check crime.
“They can bring their input and we will include it. If they so wish that they have something to contribute for us to make a very good law. The Bill seeks to empower for the lawful interception of postal packets and communication messages.
“That is the aim. And the idea is to fight organised crime such as drug trafficking, terrorism and the likes. It will look at those who are considered to be criminals; if you are not a criminal, you are not part of it,” he noted.