General News of Thu, 30 Jun 20160
Afenyo Markin welcomes gov't's Spy Bill u-turn
A member of the Defence and Interior Committee of Parliament has welcomed government's decision to withdraw the controversial spy bill laid before Parliament some months ago.
Alexander Afenyo Markins told Joy News "government has done the right thing by beating a retreat."
The Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunication Messages Bill also known as the ‘Spy bill’ is geared towards fighting crimes in Ghana.
The Bill when passed into law will give the government the power to listen in, tap, and record conversations of private individuals.
Government has said the Bill is to help secure the citizens especially in the face of global terrorism by monitoring conversation of persons it suspects may be up to something illegal.
But some critics say they will not allow their privacy to be invaded. The Bill in its current form has been condemned severally by individuals and some civil society groups.
The critics fear government may abuse the law by listening in to conversations of opposition party leaders and other critics especially as the country goes into election.
There were a number of petitions before Parliament asking the House to stand down the Bill at least after thorough discussions have been held.
On Thursday, government appeared to have given a listening ear to the concerns of the critics with the Deputy Interior Minister announcing a withdrawal of the Bill from Parliament.
Mr Agalga said government will present the bill in an amended form which will take into consideration concerns of the people about the current bill.
Afenyo Markins has welcomed the decision. Whilst he agrees that security officials must take preemptive steps to prevent crimes by listening in to conversations of people who are threats to the state, he was quick to add that they must not do so by violating rights of people to privacy.
He said the part of the Bill which allows members of the national security to, on their own, exercise a discretion, invade privacy of people by listening in to calls without a court's order cannot be accepted.
If anything, Alexander Afenyo Markins, would rather the security officials seek express authority from a judge before proceeding to tap into people's calls.
He said government must be wary of the rights of the citizens.