GOVERNMENT has at last finalised an anti-terrorism bill which aims to integrate Namibia’s definition of terrorist activities and the funding of terrorist acts, and its response thereto.
Tabling the Prevention and Combating of Terrorist Activities Bill in the National Assembly on Tuesday, the Minister of Safety and Security, Nangolo Mbumba, said the government had seen the need to criminalise terrorist activities since the repealing of the colonial anti-terrorism law had left a vacuum in the legal framework leaving the country vulnerable to terrorist acts.
There were debates in Cabinet in 2002, and a task force under the Ministry of Home Affairs was established in 2003 to develop the Bill, which was presented to Cabinet that same year.
However, Mbumba said it “slipped through the cracks” when the Ministry of Home Affairs was split up to create the Ministry of Safety and Security.
Work on the bill only restarted in 2010, It was formulated in collaboration with the Namibian Police, a technical committee of the Ministry of Justice, the Bank of Namibia’s financial intelligence centre, and the Namibia Central Intelligence Service (NCIS) under the Office of the President.
Mbumba said the finalisation of the bill had become urgent due to incidents like the bomb scare late last year at the Hosea Kutako International Airport.
“The fact that Namibia is a peaceful country should not cause us to sit back and relax as our peaceful situation may easily be exploited by those involved in terrorist activities to either turn this country into turmoil for their own benefit or to use the country as a transit haven for financing of terrorist activities,” Mbumba said.
An evaluation of Namibia’s anti-money-laundering regime was found wanting in a 2005 evaluation because there was no legislation that criminalised the financing of terrorism.
The bill makes provision for the protection of national, international and human security, and points out how Government intends to respond to all threats from terrorist activities and funding thereof.
It provides for penalties of life imprisonment and a fine of up to N$10 million, or for an imprisonment of not longer than 30 years, or both.
The taking of hostages “with terrorist intent” is also criminalised by the bill, and similarly places a burden on the government to protect internationally protected persons.
The bill further recognises the possible use of nuclear substances and radioactive material in commissioning terrorist acts as a specific type of terrorism.
Moreover, it spells out the legal authority in terms of which assets related to terrorist acts can be frozen, and also discusses the exceptions of assets released on humanitarian and other grounds.
It encompasses modern special investigative techniques and measures aimed at preventing and combating terrorism.
These measures include the interception and retention of communication, the planting of interception devices in any premises and the interception of postal articles – with the authorisation of a judge.