A law student, Jonathan Asare has petitioned President Akufo-Addo to revoke the Emergency Communications Systems Instrument (EI 63) passed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to him, the E.I is a danger to the right to privacy of communication of all Ghanaians and a breach of article 18 (2) of the 1992 constitution which states, “No person shall be subjected to interference with the privacy of his home, property, correspondence or communication except in accordance with law and as may be necessary in a free and democratic society for public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the protection of the rights or freedoms of others.”
As part of plans by government to safeguard its citizenry from the COVID-19, government established an Executive Instrument (EI)- Emergency Communications Systems Instrument, 2020 (EI 63) which is to use telecommunications data to fight this pandemic through contact tracing, quarantine reliability, and related telephone ‘metadata’ for the public good.
Government has explained that the intention of the Emergency Communications Instrument is not to spy on citizens but to serve as a temporary measure to guarantee the collective future and survival of this country.
But Jonathan Asare, a student of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) disagrees.
He is of the view that, “E.I. 63 is a danger to the right to privacy of communication of all Ghanaians. Article 18(2) provides for this negative right. I do concede that the right to privacy of communication of citizens under article 18(2) has clawbacks or incursions. A breach of this privacy will therefore be permitted by law if such breach is based on the grounds as given in article 18(2) and section 100 of the Electronic Communication Act, (Act 775). E.I. 63 sources its powers from section 100 of Act 775. Though E.I. 63 purports to draw its power from this section, it fails to fall under any of the permissible grounds for invasion into the privacy of communication of Ghanaians.
“My plea to your Excellency is to revoke E.I 63 and recast same, if you will, as recommended in the detailed explanations attached to this petition. In summary, E.1 63 is ultra vires its parent law; the Electronic Communication Act 2008, Act 775. The implementation of the order as contained in E.I 63 will be a serious breach of the privacy to communication and correspondence of Ghanaian under article 18 (2).”