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Parliament considers bill allowing interception of communications without court order in crime, terrorism cases

(Photo: HoPR)

Addis Abeba – The House of Peoples’ Representatives is currently considering a new bill that would empower investigators to intercept communications and correspondence without judicial authorization.

This authority would be applicable in specific cases involving proceeds of crime related to counterfeiting or financing terrorism activities.

According to a BBC report, the proposed legislation seeks to supersede the existing Criminal Proceeds of Crime and Terrorism Financing Prevention and Control Act.

A bill introduced before the House of Peoples’ Representatives proposes to grant investigative bodies the authority to intercept communications and correspondence, absent a court order, but solely “in cases of emergency” with the prior approval of the relevant chief prosecutor.

This authorization for interception would be incorporated as one of several investigative techniques employed in relation to these crimes.

Furthermore, the draft legislation contemplates the utilization of additional investigative methods, including the surveillance of bank accounts and analogous financial records, the identification of computer systems, and the analysis of network servers.

Notably, the draft bill also acknowledges undercover operations as a permissible investigative technique.

The prevailing decree restricts investigative bodies from employing investigative techniques without a court order, permitting such actions only upon the prosecutor’s authorization.

However, the proposed bill introduces a modification in the form of an exception. Under the new legislation, during circumstances of exigency, an investigative body may gather evidence through investigative methods without a court order, provided they secure the prior approval of the relevant chief prosecutor within the jurisdiction.

The draft decree mandates cooperation from communication service providers with investigative bodies. This cooperation entails verification, prior to any action being taken, that any request to intercept communications is duly authorized by a court order or a superior prosecutor’s warrant.

Furthermore, the penalty for individuals convicted of misrepresenting the origin of illicitly obtained assets has been augmented from 100,000 birr to 500,000 birr. However, the term of imprisonment for this offense remains unchanged, at a range of ten to fifteen years. AS

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