Thursday, November 20, 2008


The war declared by Swazi King Mswati III against his own people has taken to another battlefield with the news that the state can listen in to telephone calls of anyone it deems to be a ‘terrorist’ or ‘terrorist’ sympathiser.

The Times of Swaziland today (20 November 2008) reminds readers that the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008 gives police the right to listen in on people’s conversations. All they need is the permission of the Attorney General.

As we know, this week the Attorney General Majahenkhaba Dlamini announced that anyone who criticises the government could be considered a terrorist sympathiser. He said this to threaten Swazi journalists who try to report on the oppression that has been unleashed against the Swazi people.

In his present frame of mind we should expect that Majahenkhaba Dlamini will be more than willing to give the police the go-ahead for phone taps.

The Times reports that the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008 allows police the power to intercept communication for the purposes of obtaining evidence.

Section 25 (2) of the act stipulates that the police officer will have to intercept this communication with the prior consent of the Attorney General (AG). Once the AG has consented, the officer can make an application to the High Court for an order allowing the police to intercept the information.

The judge can make an order:

a) requiring a communications service provider to intercept and retain a specified communication or communications of a specified description received, transmitted or about to be received or transmitted by that communications service provider.

b) Authorising the police to enter any premises and to install on those premises, any device or the interception and retention of a specified communication or communications of a specified description and to remove and retain that device.

The law goes on to state that the judge should grant that order once he has satisfied himself that the consent of the AG has been obtained and that there are reasonable grounds to believe that there is material information related to the commission of the said crime.

The act states that the communication can also be obtained in another country (in terms of that country’s laws) and this information shall be admissible in Swaziland.

No comments: