The Gambia on Wednesday ratified the Anti-terrorism bill 2008 at the Second meeting of the National Assembly in the 2008 Legislative Year.
It could be recalled that the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2002 sought to provide the necessary legal framework for the global fight against terrorism. The Act has among other things also made it an offence for a person to recruit in The Gambia, any person into the Armed Forces of a Foreign State or otherwise without the authorisation of the Government of The Gambia.
Presenting the bill for ratification on Wednesday, Marie Saine Firdaus, Attorney General and Secretary of state for Justice said the 2002 Act failed to recognise that the act of any recruitment of persons in an armed force of a foreign state involves both the recruitment of persons in an armed force of a foreign state involves both the recruiter and the recruited and thus both parties are involved in the commission of the offence.
"Therefore, this bill seeks to expand the scope of application of the Anti-Terrorism Act 2002 to include all persons involved in the illegal act of recruiting or being recruited in an armed force of a foreign state or otherwise. It also stipulates the category of persons who come under the purview of "recruited persons" who can be guilty of the offence created" she said.
Considering the fact that The Gambia operates a rather liberal immigration policy, SoS Saine stated that, the country has been a magnet for all categories of people from around the world and has a very youthful population. "Therefore, the threat of the activities of terrorist penetrating this country cannot be discounted" she said.
She then observed that, following the amendment of this bill, the offence will effectively deter recruitment within The Gambia into foreign armies for terrorist activities/purposes because both the 'recruiter' and the 'recruited' will fall foul of the law.
Supporting the amendment, Fabakary Tombong Jatta, Majority leader and NAM for Serrekunda East described the move as positive and called for the establishment of a law library in The Gambia.
Netty Baldeh, NAM for Tumana commended the secretary of state and her experts for the initiative noting that updating the current laws of The Gambia is vital. He also called on the SoS to assist them with legal experts at the National Assembly to guide them provide private members bill.
Alhagie Bekai Camara, NAM for Wuli East raised the concern of the slow despensation of Justice to certain cases in the country particularly cases involving people living in the provinces who travel far to Banjul.