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(Jun 30, 2010) It was reported on June 24, 2010, that the Members of the Ugandan Parliament Sessional Committee on Information and Communications Technology (ICT)made a recommendation that the authority to issue warrants under the Regulation of Interception of Communications Bill, 2007, which under the current language of the bill is vested with the Minister for Security, be placed instead in the hands of judges of the High Court (Courts to Issue Warrants for Phone Interception, The Parliament of the Republic of Uganda (June 24, 2010), http://www.parliament.go.ug/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&a
mp;amp;amp;id=681&Itemid=65
.)

According to the current language of the bill, the Minister for Security has the authority to issue warrants for interception of any communication if he has "reasonable ground to believe":

    • a felony has been or is being or will probably be committed;
    • the gathering of information concerning an actual threat to national security or to any national economic interest is necessary;
    • the gathering of information concerning a potential threat to public safety, national security, or any national economic interest is necessary; or
    • there is a threat to the national interest involving the State's international relations or obligations. (Regulation of Interception of Communications Bill, §5.)

In making its recommendation, the ICT Committee thought it appropriate that the authority to issue warrants be with the High Court and not the Minister, in order to avoid conflicts of interest and more effectively protect the right to privacy. (The Parliament of the Republic of Uganda, supra.)

Some members of Parliament believe, however, that vesting the right to issue warrants with the courts is not sufficient protection for the right to privacy. Alex Oceng Penytoo, a Member of Parliament, argued that the language of the bill providing grounds under which private communications may be intercepted is "overly broad and vague" and that "[i]nterception of communication should only be permitted in times of emergency like war, terrorist attacks and calamities." (Catherine Bekunda & Mary Karugaba, MPs Split on Phone Tapping Bill, THE NEW VISION (June 25, 2010), http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/13/723891.)

Author: Hanibal Goitom More by this author
Topic: Crime and law enforcement More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Uganda More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 06/30/2010