Anti-terrorism law should be reconsidered: ACTION Coalition

14 Jul 2015 14:20pm
WINDHOEK, 14 JUL (NAMPA) - The ACTION Coalition has urged Namibia to reconsider its anti-terrorism law.
A media statement issued by Natasha Tibinyane, the national director of the Media Institute for Southern African (MISA) Namibia on behalf of the coalition said the country’s Prevention and Combating of Terrorist and Proliferation Activities Act was hurriedly passed by Parliament in June 2014.
The Act was a revised version of the 2012 anti-terrorism law that was also passed within a few days and with minimal parliamentary or public debate, mainly due to looming international deadlines requiring Namibia to have an anti-terrorism law.
The statement said the Prevention and Combating of Terrorist and Proliferation Activities Act does not feature some of the potentially repressive clauses that have been used in other countries to clamp down on media and civil society.
“For example, the Act does not allow for prolonged detention without charge or trial, nor does it feature explicit restrictions on media reporting on terrorism-related matters,” the statement said.
It however said the Act in its present form contains worrying aspects that should be reviewed, such as the broad definition of terrorist activity, saying the term could be misused to restrict ordinary political activity such as peaceful demonstrations and labour strikes, and limit freedom of expression rather than tackle terrorism.
The coalition is therefore calling for the law to be reconsidered, with more time given to weigh up how the law can effectively mitigate the threat of terrorism while also protecting the civil liberties that are fundamental to Bill of Rights in Namibia’s Constitution.
“Any new drafting process should include public consultation based on access to information principles and adequate time for both houses of Parliament to debate the Bill in detail,” the statement said.
Many countries introduced new anti-terrorism legislation after the terrorist attacks in the United States of America on 11 September 2001 and subsequent incidents around the world.
The Prevention and Combating of Terrorist and Proliferation Activities Act entails provisions for the offence of terrorism and other offences connected or associated with terrorist activities, and provides for measures to prevent and combat terrorist activities.
It also provides measures to give effect to international conventions, instruments and best practices concerning measures to combat terrorist activities.
The Act sets a penalty of life imprisonment for any person who directly or indirectly engages in or commits a terrorist act or engages in proliferation activities, and up to 30 years in jail and/or up to a N.dollars 10 million fine for terrorist or proliferation financing activities.
MISA is a member of the ACTION Coalition, which comprises a number of Namibian organisations that are committed to ensuring that there is greater awareness of access to information and how it not only relates to the media, civil society and academia, but is a fundamental human right. Other members are the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and Insight Magazine.