Police demanding to have sight of cell phones at road blocks

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“I think you should know in Harare the police at road blocks are asking to see cell phones. They are looking for social media anti government pics etc.”

If this report is correct – namely that Police are demanding to have sight of cell phones at road blocks – then it is completely illegal. In particular section 57(d) of the Constitution states that “every person has the right to privacy, which includes the right not to have the privacy of their communications infringed”. There are a variety of other rights Zimbabweans have including the right of freedom of conscience and the right (in section 61(1)(b)) of “freedom to seek, receive and communicate ideas and other information”.
Whilst these rights obviously do not extend to propagating violence or hate speech the police have to have a reasonable suspicion that people are in fact propagating, for example, hate speech before they can seize cell phones. And before they can search they cannot do it on a whim and in any event need to obtain a search warrant from a court before doing so.
In all the circumstances citizens are entitled to refuse to hand over their cell phones to the Police. Any action by the Police forcing people to hand their cell phones over is illegal and unconstitutional.
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