Friday, December 10, 2010

Free Expression “Under Threat” In Ghana

June 6th, 2010 

Free expression has come under threat in the West African nation of Ghana as government working towards installing an Intelligence Signal Management System (ISMS), a monitoring device allegedly meant to undermine the right to free expression.
The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) said in 2009, the Government of Ghana entered into an agreement with a telecommunication company, Global Voice Group, to install the device on the international gateways of companies engaged in mobile telephony in the country.
This has compelled the pro-opposition pressure Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG) to file a suit against the government at the Human Rights Court in Accra, capital of Ghana. The hearing of which will be on June 16, 2010. The pressure group is asking the Court to restrain the Ghanaian authorities from installing the ISMS.

“AFAG is therefore asking the court to suspend this installation, until the authorities put in place mechanisms that would ensure strict compliance of the privacy laws in the country. The writ is demanding that the court declares the installation of the ISMS as “illegal”, “unconstitutional” and a violation of the fundamental human rights of the citizenry,” MFWA said.
The Government of Ghana said the device would help minimize the loss of revenue from international calls. However, AFAG rejected the government position, saying the device could also be used in tapping into the Short Message System (SMS), online bank accounts, and internet communication of all mobile phone and internet users in Ghana.
In its drive to ensure that the country’s privacy laws and free expression are respected, AFAG jointly sued the National Communications Authority (NCA), the country’s Attorney General, and all the mobile telephone operators in the country.
“Under the agreement, the telephone companies are obliged to submit call data records when demanded by the NCA. This AFAG said will undermine the privacy laws of the country,” the region’s journalist organisation established to defend and promote the rights and freedom of the media and all forms of expression said on Wednesday.
“One among peers”
Ghana has been recognised as a symbol for democracy, good governance and freedom of expression among peers on the African Continent. Ghana has since repealed draconian laws in the country’s main legal document, the Constitution.
There by paving the way for an Independent Media Commission that has been mandated to regulate the Media, though it has come under attack sometime ago as to how credible it is.
Nonetheless, Accra’s move to install a monitoring device that is said to be aimed at “stifling” free expression seemed the country is derailing from the good name it has achieved for the wrong reasons.

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