Ghanaian policy analyst Dr. Franklin Oduro has kicked against the government’s decision to ‘rush’ a bill through parliament. Dr. Oduro says there’s no reason for the government to rush the Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunication Messages bill, nicknamed the ‘Spy Bill’, but rather extensive engagement should be entered into with the citizenry to seek their input before passing such a bill.
Speaking at a media event, Dr. Oduro, who is the Head of Research and Deputy Director at the Center for Democratic Development (CDD), raised doubts about the government’s true intention for introducing the bill. “What is the nature of the threat that this country seeks to defend against?” he questioned. He added that the reference to national security in the drafting of the bill is “nebulous” and needing clarification.
He urged parliament to send the bill back to the executive for a second look to address “some of the deficiencies identified in the document” and to seek further consensus before attempting to pass it into law. Dr. Oduro contended that a law that seeks to interfere with the privacy of citizens should not be sneaked on them.
The government of Ghana is seeking to introduce the bill which, when signed, will grant government security agencies the authority to intercept not only postal packages but also online communications.
Deputy Interior Minister James Agaga has however brushed off the criticism. “The anti-terrorism act is specific to acts of terrorism and is very limited in its scope,” Agaga said. He said the new law seeks to check this incongruity and enhance the mechanism for fighting terrorism, organized crime and narcotics trafficking. He added that steps have been taken to counter arbitrariness. A special interception release is required by agents before a package or online communication is intercepted, he explained.
Meanwhile, a section of the citizenry who spoke to SaharaReporters said they were uncomfortable with the new law. “After sneaking 2 former terrorists on us, and dodging the issue in the State of the Nation address, we cannot trust the government’s intentions anymore,” said a concerned Ghanaian resident in New York.