Media Statement on Computer Crime and Cyber Security Bill
MISA Lesotho is extremely worried that the Computer Crime and Cyber Security Bill of 2021 that was presented to Parliament by the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology Honourable Keketso Sello, on 23rd March 2021 was drafted by the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology without consulting all the parties that will be affected by the said Bill once it becomes law.
MISA Lesotho is a non-governmental, non-profit making, member-driven organization that aims to play a leading role in creating an environment of media freedom, and freedom of expression that promotes independence, pluralism, diversity of views and opinions, media sustainability, competency and professionalism through research, advocacy, collaborating and capacity building.
While MISA Lesotho appreciates the initiative by the Ministry of Communications, Science, and Technology to initiate the Computer Crime and Cyber Security Law, it is however deeply disturbing that the Bill did not undergo genuine and inclusive consultations with every potentially affected group before it gets adopted in parliament.
Such consultations should take place at all key stages in the legislative process – and not only when there is already a fully drafted legislative text. Initial consultations should happen before the legislative text is developed and drafted, that is when different policy options are still being considered. This is important for ensuring that new legislation is effective in achieving its intended goals.
MISA Lesotho is concerned that when the Computer Crime and Cyber Security Law is adopted in a hurried manner, without meaningful dialogue with all potentially affected parties, civil society, and the expert community, it is likely to be ineffective, incomplete, contradictory and in breach of fundamental human rights and freedoms.
When the Law results in human rights violations because its impact on human rights was not fully foreseen and assessed during its development, it can lead to potentially costly legal challenges initiated by victims and interested groups.
The hurried manner in which the Computer Crime and Cyber Security Law is being handled by the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology go against the spirit of the fundamental national reforms which seek to ensure that Basotho live in a stable, peaceful and secure environment.
MISA Lesotho, therefore, calls upon Honourable Sello to refer the Bill to the National Reforms Authority (NRA) which we believe will subject the draft law to a meaningful public consultation process to assess its full impact, including impact on different social groups and their human rights, and identify unintended effects and unnoticed weaknesses.