Many countries around the world introduced new anti-terrorism legislation after the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks in the US and subsequent incidents around the world.
It has become clear that no country is immune from the threat of terrorism and that the State, in fulfilling its duty to protect citizens, has a responsibility to introduce effective anti-terrorism laws.
Namibia’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 a 2012 anti-terrorism law that was also passed within a few days and with minimal parliamentary or public debate. The haste was mainly due to looming international deadlines requiring Namibia to have an anti-terrorism law.
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 the media and civil society. For example, the Act does not allow for the prolonged detention without charge or trial. Nor does it feature explicit restrictions on media reporting on terrorism-related matters.
However, the Prevention and Combating of Terrorist and Proliferation Activities Act in its present form does have some worrying aspects that should be reviewed. In short, the broad definition of ‘terrorist activity’ in the Act could be misused to restrict ordinary political activity, such as peaceful demonstrations and labour strikes, and limit freedom of expression rather than tackle terrorism.
In this new briefing paper the ACTION Coalition is 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 the 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.
For further information see the briefing paper – Rushed and Ill-considered: Namibia’s Anti-terrorism law – available as a PDF download from www.ippr.org.na or www.misa.org
About the Action Coalition
The ACTION Coalition comprise a number of Namibian organisations who 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. Current members of the coalition are MISA Namibia, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and Insight Magazine.
MISA Regional Secretariat Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)