The Zimbabwe Computer Crime and Cyber Crime Bill is a totally misplaced intervention by the government and a total violation of the citizens’ basic fundamental rights and freedoms as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) of 2013.
As Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights we note with concern that whilst the state is concerned with cyber and computer crime, the Bill is misplaced as it is not an immediate priority Bill to guarantee basic citizens’ rights as will be done by other outstanding bills like the Devolution of Power Bill.
Our other major concern is also emanating from the sense that some clauses of the proposed Bill are in serious violation of human rights as espoused in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
The Bill seeks to criminalize citizens’ right to human dignity and right to privacy by making it a crime for a citizen to deny access to computer data to any person authorized to access it.
Some of the contentious and rights violating clauses of the Bill include:
a) The Bill seeks criminalizes the use of software and systems that by-pass illegal network blockage by the state,
b) The Bill seeks to criminalize citizens’ right to forward messages they receive on social media by making them liable for the messages they forwarded even though they didn’t create them,
c) The Bill seeks to criminalize forming groups on social media based on racial or tribal identity which violates Section 58 of the Constitution on freedom of assembly and association,
As Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights we call on the government to recede from continuing with this Bill and should government continue, we urge the parliament and the citizens of Zimbabwe to defend human rights by refusing this Bill out rightly as it grossly violates human rights.
By Benedict Sibasa
MIHR General Secretary