Leader of Opposition and Member of Parliament for Gaborone Bonnington North, Duma Boko has proposed that the new Counter-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill should accord suspected terrorists a hearing before they are officially declared such.
Boko’s remarks were in reference to the proposed re-enactment of Section 12 of the Bill, which establishes a committee whose function will be to recommend to the Minister, the designation of persons or structured groups as terrorists or terrorist group.
In the current Act, which was enacted in 2014, Section 12 vests the power to declare one, or a structured group engaged in terrorism on the President. When presenting the Amendment Bill on Tuesday, the Acting Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Machana Shamukuni said the Bill seeks to re-enact Section 12 to establish a committee, which would make recommendations to the Minister on who should be declared a terrorist.
However, Boko expressed particular reservations on the lack thereof of provision of hearing for those suspected to engage in acts of terrorism.
He said the Bill should provide for those people or groups recommended by the Committee to the Minister to be called for hearing before being declared terrorists.
He said it is their constitutional right that they are given a fair hearing before the final declaration of terrorism status is placed upon them.
“It is in the law that those people must be accorded a fair hearing once the committee has made its recommendations to the minister,” he said.
Mahalapye West MP, Joseph Molefhe said while he supports the Amendment Bill for increasing penalties for criminalising the financing of individual terrorists and increasing the penalties, he proposed that the Counter-Terrorism Analysis and Fusion Agency to be established should not be under the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS).
“The DIS should be a stakeholder just like the police, BDF and others,” he said.
The Counter-Terrorism Act was first enacted in 2014 to provide for measures to prevent and combat acts of terrorism including financing of terrorism.
When tabling the Bill, Shamukuni said while the current Act provides for measures to prevent and combat acts of terrorism including financing of terrorism, the Act has on assessment by the Eastern and Southern African Money Laundering Group, shortened to ESAANLG, been found deficient.
He said the Bill also seeks to provide for taking of hostages as a separate offence by inserting clause 4A and extending the offence of transporting of persons suspected of having committed an act of terrorism on board a ship to similarly apply to transportation of such persons on board an aircraft or vehicle.