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Written by ASFL Senior Local Coordinator, Stephen Oyedemi.

On this International Youth Day, I want to congratulate every youth like myself for the powerful and wonderful roles we play in the society and all the moves, small and big that we are taking to create a better world. We are indeed the engine of growth and development in every society.
The African continent is endowed with enormous human capital – diverse, beautiful and vibrant people. Unfortunately, the continent has not been able to maximise its resources to position it at the level it should have reached by now. Across the continent, senseless wars are been fought, low percentage of children have access to basic education, and many are dying of malnutrition and curable diseases. Corruption and nepotism have seriously hindered growth and people’s freedoms are stifled and denied by oppressive governments.

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Civil rights violation is still a major issue and as African youths, we should confront it. In some parts of Africa, people born with albinism are targeted, killed and used for rituals.; these people like every other people who should have their rights to live and fulfil their purpose without abuse and attacks. The dignity of women should be paramount and they should be free to choose what is and what is not important to them. Women shouldn’t be humiliated and forced into early marriage as it is especially prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Niger and Chad, 75% and 68% respectively of women are married off before they are 18. The rights of women to maternal health and reproductive rights should be entrenched in the consciousness of our society and people should be free to choose how they want to live their lives as long as they do not prevent others from doing the same. Everyone should be free from abuse of whatever kind from the government or any other setup in our society.

Peace is an essential component of overall human development and flourishing. When there is peace, people will be enabled to trade more provided there are no restrictions to trade; by so doing there will be widespread prosperity. Too many wars have been fought, too many damages have been done, and it is time to look away from the destructive temptation of conflicts and wars. As African youths, peace should matter to us and we should advocate it with our character everywhere we find ourselves. We should be embodiments of what we advocate.

Our individual liberty is extremely important and within it lies our right to define our value and belief systems, what we want and what we do not want, how we desire to be treated and not to be treated, to own properties, to quench our thirst for knowledge without barriers and to live our life without fear or intimidation, as long as we do not obstruct others in their expression of these same rights. This is why liberty and peace should matter to us as African youths; and we should continually pursue the values of liberty, peace and development in our communities and countries to ensure a greater future.

History has taught us that vigilance is paramount in ensuring and preserving freedom. Therefore we must continually challenge authorities in order to conquer oppression, dominance and injustice.
Once again, Happy International Youth Day!

On June 17th and 18th, 2016, libertarians from Kenya, Uganda, DR Congo, Burundi, Eritrea, Nigeria and USA converged at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa’s Jubilee Hall for the third annual ASFL East African Regional Conference. The event was the first of its kind in the continent as participants were required to apply in order to attend the two day conference. In the end, 109 of the best applicants were invited to attend.

Linda Kavuka, Chairperson of the ASFL Executive Board and host of the event, gave the opening remarks followed by a representative from Catholic University. SFL African Programs Director Olumayowa Okediran then gave the first presentation on barriers to movement and trade. He illustrated how the current boundaries were colonial systems that have destroyed our unity and pride as Africans. They continue to hinder us from exploiting potential inter-state trade and movement which could boost not only our individual economies but Africa as a whole. The barriers have allowed corrupt officials to thrive.

From left to right: Stella Nderitu (SFL Member, Kenya) Joseph Kwanya (Local Coordinator, Kenya) and Aimable Manirakize (Local Coordinator, Burundi).

From left to right: Stella Nderitu (SFL Member, Kenya) Joseph Kwanya (Local Coordinator, Kenya) and Aimable Manirakize (Local Coordinator, Burundi).

Next, Local Coordinator Teklemariam Bekit shared a rather moving personal experience concerning immigrants and the challenges they face in their host countries using Eastern Africa as a case study. He expressed his disapproval of the repatriation of the Somali refugees at Dadaab and instead suggested that the refugees should be absorbed into the community and granted asylum.

June Arunga graced the event with her presence and chose to share her personal take on liberal ideas which was not only an African perspective but a practical one as well. She made reference to the slang word ‘tunyitane’ which in her interpretation means ‘let us get each other.’ Urging the audience to apply this attitude in their daily lives, June reasoned that doing so will help to promote a peaceful society in which mutual understanding endures despite differences of opinion.

Mike Rotich, Co-founder of the Eastern African Policy Center, shared his take on the challenges that Africa faces in the area of regional integration. He argued that there are too many regional markets which fail to  accomplish their objectives yet continue to receive money from their member countries. Vice President of Atlas Network Tom Palmer gave the keynote and final presentation of the day. He gave us an overview on liberty with respect to the present state of Africa. He broke down the major principles of free markets and theirbenefits to the audience, which he has addressed in his book, The Morality of Capitalism. (more…)

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We are receiving applications to the African Students For Liberty Executive Board (AEB). Applications are welcome from highly qualified candidates who currently work with, or have previously worked with Students For Liberty international in the capacity of a Local Coordinator or member of the African Executive Board. Anyone who has contributed to the growth of the Liberty movement within the continent is also free to apply. This is a voluntary position therefore, applicants must be university students or recent graduates of not more than three (3) years, who are willing to dedicate their time for a freer society.

Successful candidates will be invited for a two-day Executive Board Retreat in Nigeria, where they get to meet each other and discuss their plans for their Regions in the year 2016/2017.

Board members serve as Regional Directors for ASFL, coordinating the activities of Local Coordinators within their regions of operation, and also make sure that Regional Conferences attract the best minds who commit themselves to the promotion of freer societies. A board member is also obligated to contribute at least, one blog post each month, on contemporary socio-political issues affecting the continent. Board members are to serve for one year, after which they can either re-apply to be on the Board, or move on to greater heights.

Are you committed to the cause of freedom? Do you have what it takes to promote a freer Africa? Then, click here to apply for a position on the ASFL African Executive Board. Application closes on the 7th of August, 2016.

Good luck!

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Mr. Olumayowa Okediran, the ASFL Programs Director, with Linda Kavuka, Chairlady of the 2015 ASFL African Executive Board.

Credit: Breitbart.com

Burundi is among the smallest economies in the world, recently ranked by International Monetary Fund as the poorest country in the world. The ongoing political turmoil was sparked a decision of the ruling party in April 2015 to enable the President to seek a third term in office. The alarming violence which followed in the wake of this decision has caught the attention of the international media and civil society.

The civil war of 1993 to 2005 weakened Burundi’s economy, its legal system, and endangered transparency in public affairs This African country is now at crossroads, and seems to be prone to another conflict.  Many commentators have been more concerned about the political aspect of the current crisis, ignoring the crucial economic dimension which is central to appreciating the true nature of the conflict.

In fact, corruption which affects many countries in Africa did not  spare Burundi. According to the Transparency International Report on Africa, dated December 2015 (PEOPLE and CORRUPTION: Africa survey 2015, page 21) the courts and police in Burundi rank high on the corruption scale with 16 to 30 percent of respondents admitting to having paid bribes to the police

Unfortunately, most of the bribe givers are ordinary people in urban areas who try to get licenses, certificates or seek to resolve land disputes, especially in their struggle to meet their basic necessities.

Another sector wherein corruption is prevalent is the public sector where job opportunities reflect political, rather than competitive, trends. Despite that, in Burundi exists some formal channels of job recruitment, but many workers are still hired based on their political aspirations. In April 2015, the growing number of discontented graduates and students who opposed the government’s way of recruiting, responded to the call of the opposition and civil society to protest the President’s desire to be reelected for a third term. 

This political resentment among youth in form of protest has been mainly obvious in the urban areas, especially in the slums of the capital Bujumbura. Youth alienated from the ruling party in Bujumbura took the lead in these demonstrations chanting anti-president slogans. Although it was not like the recent protest in Brazil against Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff over the Petrobas oil company corruption scandal, it still shows how the citizens can challenge the elites’ decisions, asking for the rule of law and transparency.

It is significant to note that the above tendency of recruitment has been endemic to all successive governments in Burundi, which spurred unequal share in public sector between the political clients and non-political partisans.

As stated by Rachel Strohm on 6 February 2012 in his article CORRUPTION NARRATIVES IN BURUNDI: “corruption could delegitimize fragile post –conflict governments and creates grievances that could spark a return to conflict”. For instance,  OLUCOME (Anti-corruption  and  Economic  Malpractice Observatory), a local anti-corruption agency, has expressed  a  deep concern over the nickel deposit in the Musongati region, alleging the government is granting mining licenses, by way of a non-transparent process, to international companies. In so doing, OLUCOME as well as the media have enhanced the political accountability of the government as well as the public awareness of government mineral policy.   

According to a World Bank report from April 2011, the youth population in Burundi which is younger than 15 years, constitutes 39 percent of the population. Thus, this nickel reserve, which comprises 6 percent of the world’s total, ought to be used to tackle growing unemployment and support the government to meet the immense challenges to sustainable development. Clearly, tangible efforts should be made to improve official transparency in this mineral field as well as in public job recruitment, which requires the state to show the openness and allow the media and civil society to inform the general public of what happens within the public sector.   

Eventually, the youth will be more concerned with economic issues rather than political disputes. However, the political will and enabling environment are central to redress all these issues which impede this nation nicknamed the Country of Honey and Milk.  Both parties responsible for this political situation in Burundi ought to see that dialogue make more sense than violence, and sit around the negotiation table at the upcoming discussions on in Arusha, Tanzania. 

Credit: commondreams.org

The following was written by Pretoria-based ASFL Executive Board Member Martin van Staden.

When I joined African Students For Liberty in the middle of 2014, I had no prior involvement in any kind of civil society activism. I had focused on academics during school and spent the majority of my first and second years at university finding myself politically and ideologically. Shortly after reading Murray Rothbard’s The Ethics of Liberty and becoming a libertarian, was I approached to join ASFL. And only a few months after that was I introduced to the vibrant classically liberal think tank scene in South Africa.

With a great desire to see social change in my country and Africa as a whole, I was glad to see that South Africa had various institutes working toward the achievement of individual freedom, the rule of law, and emancipation through property rights. Among them was the Free Market Foundation of Southern Africa, which was founded in the 1970s to combat the oppressive and paternalistic economic policies of the South African Apartheid government.

ASFL and the FMF quickly developed a good working relationship, not least because of their co-affiliation with the international Atlas Network. ASFL has contributed to the establishment of the FMF Youth and the FMF Youth has provided support for ASFL activities.

The importance of relationships such as this cannot be understated in light of the leftward trend of South African public policy. The pool of classically liberal, economically conscious youth is rapidly declining, as high school economics makes no mention of the Austrian school, and the intelligentsia are increasingly considering economics as a ‘Western construct’. This is true not only for South Africa, but the lack of young freedom-lovers has been a problem throughout the African continent for decades.

I am able to count the amount of think tanks dedicated to individual liberty and free markets on my hands. Those think tanks dedicated to expanding the power of government, on the other hand, are so numerous that one would need to create an alphabetical index.

This is why the leaders identified and developed by African Students For Liberty should not be seen by liberal think tanks as ‘part of ASFL’ exclusively, but rather as a resource which they must invest in with an eye to absorbing these leaders into their own structures.

This is what the Free Market Foundation did.

Less than a year after hearing about them for the first time, I was offered an internship. During October and December 2015, and January 2016, I worked at their offices in Johannesburg and saw just how important free market activism and lobbying is within the African context. I was able to assist with various tasks which opened some of their staff’s time up to devote to even bigger projects. My writing skills were, and continue to be, put to good use by the FMF, which like other classically liberal institutes suffers from a quantitative lack of skilled and passionate writers.

The Institute of Race Relations – most likely the oldest think tank in Africa and certainly the oldest classically liberal one – is also investing in the youth. Frans Cronje, CEO of the IRR, recently said on The Renegade Report on CliffCentral.com that the Institute’s doors are wide open to young classical liberals who want to get involved.

However, other African think tanks are allowing this opportunity to pass them by.

Students For Liberty’s mission is to educate, develop, and empower the next generation of leaders of liberty. This mission does not exist in a vacuum, nor does it exist for SFL’s benefit. These ‘leaders of liberty’ are meant to leave SFL and contribute to the spread of liberal ideas – indeed, they are the ones who will eventually bring about a freer future.

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Martin van Staden, Southern African Regional Director, ASFL.

They have been equipped with the moral and practical knowledge which free market think tanks in Africa desperately need to influence their governments to liberalize the market. Whereas think tanks would have to train their new recruits from the ground up in the ideas and philosophy of freedom, ASFL has taken up this noble job. However, when our leaders leave ASFL, they are often allowed to go to waste, and are not absorbed by pro-liberty civil society.

African Students For Liberty is the single largest libertarian organization of any kind on the African continent. It is a producer of resources where there is a great demand for what it has to offer. Our leaders are what Africa needs!

ASFL University of Cape Town

ASFL University of Cape Town, South Africa

Local Coordinator Program: Applications to the ASFL Local Coordinator Program ended on the 24th of April with over 100 applications from all over the continent. However, 69 applicants were selected for the training which started on the 1st of May, 2016. 

South Africa: On the 26th of April 2016 around 30 individuals met in a lecture theatre at the University of Cape Town to discuss if the government was helping or hindering South African entrepreneurs. The event saw five panelists discussing their experiences as entrepreneurs and how the government has failed to help them in their pursuit of success. The general consensus of the evening was that not only was the government not helping, it was hindering them! Regulations, market distorting forces, economic illiterate ideologies and corruption are all acting against entrepreneurs, making every step a struggle for them to succeed. Despite that, many individuals do succeed in South Africa – showing off the tenacity of those who work hard and cleverly in order to succeed – against the odds. This event was the first of a series of three, which ASFL UCT will be hosting to achieve status as an official UCT society. 

Tanzania: Students For Liberty Tanzania led by Local Coordinator Evans Nkya held a one day seminar on 23rd April 2016 at National Institute of Transport(NIT) that was attended by students from other institutions. The participants got a chance to learn about Free Markets and Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Personal Health, how people and ideas change the world and how to access and make use of the resources available to young people.

ASFL Tanzania

ASFL Tanzania

On the Career Day held on 30th April 2016 at the Institute of Tax Administration, Dar es Salaam Students for Liberty Tanzania led by Local Coordinator Evans Nkya held a tabling event. The team attracted students from the Institute and other Universities who had attended the career day whom they taught the Libertarian Philosophy and how this may be applied to their unique Tanzanian situation. A total of 60 students registered to join Tanzania Students for Liberty and join the mission to advocate for liberty in the country.

Nigeria: The African Liberty Students Organization, Tai Solarin University of Education, Jagun- Ogun state Nigeria held its first ever event on the 6th of April, 2016 with the theme, Entrepreneurship, the antidote to povertyThe seminar was geared at informing and orientating the participants on the positive socio economic impact of Entrepreneurship, in a bid to meet the practical and theoretical demand of the guests. Moronfolu Adeniyi African Executive Board Member engaged the audience with the works of some libertarian scholars like Ludwig Von Mises, Frédéric Bastiat and Tom G. Palmer. Other speakers included ASFL Programs Manager, Olumayowa Okediran, ASFL Local Coordinator, Olanrewaju Arilomo and the Group’s Staff Adviser. 

African Liberty Students Organization (ALSO) Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, held her induction and handing over program on the 27th of April, 2016.  The program commenced with the opening speech by the President, and ASFL Local Coordinator, Lilian David. The ASFL African Programs Manager, Olumayowa Okediran spoke on Leadership In Liberty and leadership opportunities in African Students For Liberty.

Over 120 students were at the event while 10 other students were inducted as new members of the organization after proper screening. There were students representatives from various chapters, ALSO University of Lagos, ALSO MAPOLY, ALSO Federal College of Education, ALSO University of Ibadan and other organizations on campus such as Enactus, Topnotch, HOTSA, Junior Chambers International, Safety Club, and the Students Union Government also graced the event.

On the 30th of April, 2016, over 100 students from across Nigerian tertiary institutions gathered at the Cooperative Building hall of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria for the first ever African Students For Liberty #ShareYourStory Conference organized Executive Board Member, Oluwafemi Ogunjobi. With support from Atlas Network, the event featured Yael Ossowski, Olumayowa Okediran, Martin Van Staden, Adewale Bankole, Chukwuemeka Ezeugo, Lilian David, Wale Ajetunmobi, Olubunmi Fadiora as the guest speakers to  discuss on a range of topics as it concerns liberty today. Chukwuemeka Ezeugo and other speakers took turns to share their inspiring stories in the Liberty movement and why students should join the global movement that is changing the world. The event also featured student activism panel made up campus leaders to discuss various issues as it affects the continent.

Panelists at the ASFL #ShareYourStory event

Panelists at the ASFL #ShareYourStory event

Burundi: On April 16th 2016 Students for Liberty Burundi led by Aimable Manirakize held their third event of the year at the Great Lakes University campus Saint Michel. The SFL members in Burundi are shared the Libertarian Philosophy with students from the institution and other Universities around, who are all passionate about bringing positive change to their society, which has gone through years of civil war.  They believe that the Ideas of Liberty and a Free Market society will bring the change that Burundi needs.

Registration is still on for the East African Regional Conference taking place in Nairobi, Kenya on the 17th and 18th of June, 2016. For more information and registration, please visit 2016 East African Regional Conference .

The following was written by Pretoria-based ASFL Executive Board Member, Martin van Staden.

The West African nation of Liberia is apparently on the road toward privatizing its early childhood education system.

Liberia privatizes primary education

Liberia privatizes primary education

The Ministry of Education announced back in January that Bridge International Academies, a private American firm with over 200 schools in Kenya, would take over pre-primary and primary education in the educationally underdeveloped nation.

Partial or full privatization has been fiercely criticized by teachers unions, journalists, and most predictably, the United Nations. According to Special Rapporteur Kishore Singh, governments should primarily provide education within their jurisdictions – not private companies. The Mail & Guardian Africa, itself a news source, believes that the privatization of education is “just wrong”, regardless of what positive outcomes it may yield. The unions, as could be expected, see the job security of their members to be threatened, given Bridge International’s nontraditional focus on teaching-by-technology.

(more…)

March 2016 update

12805763_1053315478061414_1330380614301545039_nMorocco: Students For Liberty Morocco held the Maghreb Debate for Peace Building and Countering Violent Extremism. His excellency Morocco’s former ambassador to the UN Mohamed Loulichki was a keynote speaker among others. The event was a series of debates on various topics including causes of violent extremism.

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Nigeria: Students from the Federal University of Technology, Akure held a debate was organized on Capitalism Vs Socialism. They also hosted the first ever Liberty and Entrepreneurship Workshop led by LocalCoordinator Adeola Bamgboye. Tagged ‘Libertarianism: Unlocking Entrepreneurial Potentials for Citizen’s Prosperity’, the event had Emeka Ezeugo and Oluwafemi Ogunjobi as the guest speakers, who spoke on: ‘Youths Emancipation: The key to Economic Freedom.’ & “Opportunities in Students For Liberty” respectively. The event successfully registered over 50 students, and copies of Why Liberty, Peace, Love & Liberty, Voices from Africa, among 12063628_1295289310485937_5687073643188760641_nother materials were distributed to the participants. Students from Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto held their first ever SFL tabling event that saw over 120 students registered to join their SFL group. African Liberty Students Organisation, Federal University Of Agriculture, Abeokuta led by Lilian David Hadijat held a tabling event and Matriculation Outreach for freshers on Campus. This was to introduce the organisation to the entire University audience and also serves as an avenue to have new intakes. Over 200 students visited the stand and appreciated the effort of the Organization with loads of Exotic books to share. African Students For Liberty materials were available for the Audience. Lilian also organized a seminar and induction ceremony for newly admitted members of her campus group on the 30th of March. The event provided an opportunity for students to learn about liberty and plan for the coming school year.

12814033_1010394342368014_1727045482821404886_nBurundi: ASFL Burundi held an outreach event at the Public University ENS Bujumbura Kigobe campus. The group introduced SFL to the audience, the principles of liberty and freedom for all including women. The event was successful and attracted 183 students.

Kenya: Executive Board Chair Linda Kavuka met with some of the Kenyan LCs over the Easter weekend to discuss the upcoming Eastern African Regional Conference, progress with activities in their respective Universities and the way forward for SFL in Kenya. Watch out for upcoming events from the region soon.

More pictures from the incredible events organized by ASFL leaders in March: 

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ASFL group in Sokoto State, Nigeria runs a tabling event

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ASFL leaders in Abeokuta host a tabling event and reach over 200 students.

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ASFL leaders in Abeokuta host a tabling event and reach over 200 students.

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ASFL leaders in Abeokuta host a tabling event and reach over 200 students.

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ASFL leaders in Burundi host series of seminars for students in Burundi

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ASFL leaders in Burundi host series of seminars for students in Burundi

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ASFL group in Sokoto State, Nigeria runs a tabling event

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Participants at the seminar on violent extremism organized by ASFL leaders in Morocco.

 

#Share Your Story

#Share Your Story

African Students For Liberty is excited to announce the first ASFL Conference this year, tagged:  #ShareYourStory. This is an intellectually-engaging student conference that will bring together campus leaders and advocates of free society to discuss, and share practical ideas on how to promote the ideas of tolerance, liberty and markets.

Most importantly, in tune with the theme of this event, these speakers will be sharing their personal experiences in the pursuit of liberty, and how the ideas of liberty have helped them in their life pursuits.

In a wider sense, the event is aimed at sharing personal experiences, communicating ideas and best practices, but ultimately, to encourage students and leaders not to let down the guard in advancing freedom in their campuses.

The Speakers at the event include: Japheth Omojuwa, Yael Ossowski, Olumayowa Okediran, Martin VanStaden, Linda Kavuka, Isack Danford, Emeka Ezeugo, Lilian David, Wale Ajetunmobi, Adewale Bankole, among others. The speakers will be speaking on range of practical, interesting and diverse topics as it concerns liberty today.

Sessions at the event include: speaking sessions, activism panel made up of student leaders, discussions and interviews; documentary/comedy/ playlet, networking, etc.

Speakers & Topics

  1. Japheth Omojuwa: ‘Telling a Story of How Activism is a Potent Tool for Social Change’
  2. Olumayowa Okediran: ‘How I started: A Story of a Young College Student Among Wolves’
  3. Yael Ossowski: Narrating his ordeal with Serbian authorities, and why it is (or not) important to follow all applicable government demands and stipulation’
  4. Martin VanStaden: ‘South Africa: The Strength of Young People Amid Repressing Authorities/Policies’
  5. Linda Kavuka: ‘The Role of Women in the Liberty Movement’
  6. Isack Danford: ‘My Story: The Future of Liberty in the Context of Think Tanks’
  7. Wale Ajetunmobi: ‘Why Campus Leaders Should Be Bold to Challenge College Authorities’
  8. Adewale Bankole: Nigeria’s Socio-economic Clime And the Ideas of Markets’
  9. Chukuemeka Ezeugo: Sacrificing All for What I Believe In’
  10. Lilian David: ‘Women & Leadership Position in the Global Economy’

Venue: Cooperative Building Hall, behind Zenith Bank, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile–Ife, Nigeria.

Time: 09:30 a.m.

Free lunch pack and coffee will be served at the event. With limited spots available, application to the conference can be found here: https://goo.gl/78DWvM

PS: Successful applicants are responsible for the costs of their travel, and boarding. 

Enquiries: Contact Olufemi Ogunjobi at: [email protected]

The following was contributed by Ghana-based ASFL Local Coordinator Michael Gyekye

The government of Ghana has recently tabled before the country’s Parliament a controversial bill that purports to hand some state investigative officers the discretionary authority to intercept electronic and postal communications of citizens, ostensibly to aid crime prevention. The Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunication Messages Bill, popularly called the Spy Bill, has provoked intense opposition from the public and local civil society. Kofi Bentil, a lawyer, advocate of accountable and responsible governance and Vice President of IMANI Africa, is a vocal opponent of the bill. He shares his thoughts on the Spy Bill with Michael Gyekye, Ghana-based ASFL Local Coordinator.

Kofi Bentil, Vice President of Imani Africa

Kofi Bentil, Vice President of Imani Africa

ASFL: Can you educate our readers on the Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunication Messages Bill, popularly dubbed the ‘Spy Bill’, which is currently before the Parliament of Ghana for passage into law?
KB: The bill gives permission to the government in section 4(3) to intercept anyone’s communications upon receiving an oral order from a Public official.
There are other provisions which require a Judge, but section 4(3) overrides them all and so I have no doubt that it will be abused heavily. (more…)