Parliament has returned from a short recess to pass the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2015 in order to strengthen the existing law on terrorism and criminalise its financing.
The Bill, which seeks to amend the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2002 is also intended “to provide for expeditious freezing, seizure and forfeiture of assets and property suspected to be linked to terrorist activities.”
The Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga said she was forced to recall the House to consider and pass the Bill, before Saturday, June 20, 2015 – the international deadline set for the country.
She said that Uganda would face international sanctions for failure to beat the deadline, and approve the legislation on financing of terrorism.
Speaker Kadaga however, asked government to prioritise critical legislation and present it to Parliament for consideration in good time.
The Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2015 seeks to define ‘terrorism’ and ‘acts of terrorism’ to include the international aspects envisaged by the International Convention on the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, 1999.
The Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon. James Baba said there is no universal definition of terrorism, but that Uganda can copy similar definitions based on terrorist acts used in other Sub Saharan Africa.
During the debate Members said the law should not be made to target any individuals but rather to combat terrorism in the country.
“I support the fight against terrorism but laws on terrorism should not infringe on rights of people,” said Hon. Hassan Kaps Fungaroo (FDC, Obongi).
Hon. Barnabas Tinkasiimire (Buyaga West) said “terrorism is a global challenge that requires all persons to participate in its curbing” but said it was not appropriate to give too much power to the Inspector General of Police.
“Allowing the IGP to be solely responsible for freezing or seizing suspected property will be endangering ourselves; the IGP should not be the one to complain, investigate and pass judgment?” said Tinkasiimire.
The Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Wafula Oguttu, said the Bill in its current state cannot stop terrorists from trading or financing in Uganda and warned against government targeting political opponents.
“Laws should not target certain individuals or groups. It should not be used to inconvenience political opponents,” said Hon. Wafula Oguttu adding, “Our Police are trying to target political financing, which can be used against anybody.”