Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Guyana shows it’s not a rogue state

Anti-Terrorism Bill passed:

The Anti-Terrorism and Terrorists Related Activities Bill 2015 was passed late on Wednesday in the National Assembly after a lengthy and heated debate.
The bill seeks to criminalise terrorism and related activities, to provide for the detection, prevention, prosecution, conviction and punishment of terrorism and terrorist related activities.
After being put to a vote, 31 members of the government voted in favour of the bill’s passage while 29 members of the opposition voted against.
In his presentation prior to the passage of the bill, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams told the House that the bill comes at a time when terrorism stalks the world. He added that it is imperative that the government take the necessary actions to combat this act.
He further explained that a regime of laws is important for a country like Guyana to protect itself and its people from acts of extremism, “therefore it is time for nations to stand up in the fight against terrorism.”
According to Williams, the government is determined to pass the bill since it is a crucial and essential piece of legislation that is required by all countries in the global fight against terrorism.
“It is imperative that the nations, in comity, strive to implement measures, and to put measures in place to combat this new challenge.”
The Attorney General explained that the Anti-Terrorism and Terrorist Related Activities Bill 2015 contained two clauses that were developed from the Vienna Convention, the International Convention for the Suppression of Financing of Terrorism 1999 and the Palermo Convention, in keeping with Recommendation 35, which was handed down to Guyana by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
In the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force’s (CFATF’s) 2011 Mutual Evaluation Report on Guyana, this deficiency in the country’s Laws was highlighted, hence, since then, CFATF and FATF have been urging Guyana to implement Recommendation 35.

Demand justice

In supporting the bill in its current form, and with the amendments which provide the death penalty for anyone found guilty of an act of terrorism, Vice-President and Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan said, “Draconian times call for draconian measures.”
Ramjattan argued that the bill dissuades terrorists and others who aid and abet such activities with the strong penalties proposed as it also prevents safe havens for terrorist activities in Guyana.
He added that the human rights issue would always come up when dealing with criminal offences, since even terrorists could demand justice.
“If, to secure the democracy and the human rights of the majority of the people of the country as against a few terrorists, we have to do this,” he urged.
The Minister added that the passage of the bill in Guyana will send a message to the ‘ABC’ countries (America, Canada and Britain) that Guyana is “not a rogue state” and one that protects the liberal, constitutional and democratic order.