This article analyses the tension between the rule of law and the
increasing use of electronic surveillance in sub-Saharan Africa. Indeed, in
the sub-Saharan region today, the rule of law is severely under threat.
These threats include bad governance, corruption and a poor human
rights track record. Respect for human rights particularly is one of the key
indices of the presence of a strong rule of law. However, sub-Saharan
African states seriously lag behind in this respect. While so much has been
said of the violations of other human rights, not much is said of the right
to privacy. Hence, the rule of law being a fundamental component of
human rights, the right to privacy faces emerging threats from practices
aided by the gradual advances in technology, such as electronic
surveillance. Electronic surveillance, with its capacity to effortlessly
undermine human rights, is now commonplace in countries in the sub-
Saharan region. This becomes more complicated with the frequentlymade
claim that such surveillance is 'lawful' or 'reasonable' for law
enforcement or national security. What amounts to 'lawful' or 'reasonable'
intrusions are not only nebulous, but also largely unquestionable.
Interestingly, this is not the only difficulty concerning the practice of
electronic surveillance. There seems to be a general misconception that electronic surveillance only constitutes a challenge to the right to privacy when it actually affects some other important values. In view of this, the
article examines the ways in which the increasing use of electronic
surveillance undermines the rule of law in sub-Saharan Africa.