The Namibian (Windhoek)

5 June 2009

Namibia: Spy Bill Unconstitutional - LAC

THE interception clause inserted in the Communications Bill, to allow the country's spy agency to tap into people's private communications without a court order, is a blatant violation of the right to privacy and dignity, Norman Tjombe of the Legal Assistance Centre said yesterday.

Information Minister Joel Kaapanda tabled the bill in the National Assembly on Wednesday afternoon.

"Such provisions will never survive a constitutional attack as such provisions are not only abusive, but are draconian," Tjombe said.

One of the provisions, which is of particular concern to the LAC and others, is the establishment of communication interception centres to intercept telephonic, e-mail and cellphone text messages.

"What will also result in the spying on private communications is that people would rather not want to discuss pertinent matters of concern for fear that it may invoke the wrath of those who have access to the communications, thus impeding on healthy political debate among citizens, which is not good for any democracy - young or old," Tjombe said.

The Bill's provisions are similar to those in Zimbabwe's interception of communications law, which that country uses to criminalise journalists and their sources, who are already subject to a battery of repressive laws.

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