Security and Intelligence Agencies Bill to Clarify Roles of Key Actors in National Security Architecture

The need to adequately respond to emerging national security challenges in Ghana and to adequately cater for a national security policy direction has informed the introduction of a new Security and Intelligence Agencies Bill, 2020 by the government so as to restructure the national security architecture of the country.

The often confused roles of the key actors in the national security architecture, including the Minister responsible for National Security, the National Security Coordinator, and the Chief Director of the Ministry Responsible for National Security will be clarified in this new Bill which is currently before Parliament.

The object of the Bill which was taken through its second reading in Parliament on Tuesday, August 11, 2020, is to provide for matters relating to the National Security Council, the establishment of regional and district security councils and to specify the agencies responsible for the security of the State.

It also seeks to repeal the Security and Intelligence Agencies Act, 1996 (Act 526) to establish the required national security architecture to address emerging national security challenges, taking cognizance of some significant matters not catered for in Act 526.

Security and Intelligence Agencies Bill to Clarify Roles of Key Actors in National Security Architecture
Security and Intelligence Agencies Bill to Clarify Roles of Key Actors in National Security Architecture

According to Government sources, the current form of Act 526 which has been in existence for over twenty-four years, does not adequately reflect the security architecture of the country. The current functions of the intelligence agencies and membership and functions of the regional and district security councils are woefully inadequate.

The lines of reporting between the intelligence agencies, the national security architecture, and other Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) necessitate a holistic review to ensure clear channels of reporting. Therefore, it is the belief of the Government that the required changes to Act 526 would necessitate a repeal of the Act for a new and comprehensive piece of legislation.

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Presenting the Committee report on the Floor of Parliament, the Chairman of the Committee of Defence and Interior, Seth Kwame Acheampong observed that the Bill provides for the expansion of the functions of the intelligence agencies to include the combating of significant new threats such as cybercrime and terrorism.

As a result, the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) is to be converted into a National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) to reinforce its refocus on activities skewed towards intelligence-oriented tasks.

He also indicated that the Bill creates additional Committees of the National Security Council and clarifies the roles of the key actors in the national security architecture.

For the expansion of the Regional and District Security Councils, the Committee further observed that “the Bill expands the membership and functions of the Regional District and Security Councils to include the contribution of important stakeholders such as the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) and community leaders with knowledge in human security.

“The Bill also mandates the Regional Security Councils (REGSECs) and District Security Councils (DISECs) to consult, when appropriate, with important local stakeholders such as the National Peace Council, the Regional House of Chiefs and religious and other opinion leaders.”

The Bureau of National Communications (BNC) operates as a department under the Ministry of National Security with responsibility for signal intelligence and information assurance. These functions are critical to the effective and efficient discharge of the mandate of the Ministry of National Security. Therefore the Bill seeks to create the BNC as an additional agency aimed at addressing emerging cybersecurity threats in the wake of global terrorism.

However, the Committee reports that some of its members have objected to the establishment of the BNC as an agency in the Bill.

“It is, therefore, the considered view of some Members that the object of creating the BNC as an intelligence agency would pose apparent Constitutional challenges having regards to Article 85 of the 1992 Constitution hence, the call for the deletion of the provisions establishing the BNC as an agency from the Bill,” the report said.

Source: Clement Akoloh || parliamentnews360.com

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