After making several amendments, the Senate has passed the “Liberian Anti-terrorist Act” that seeks the prevention of terrorism and to arrest and prosecute suspected terrorist activities and terrorist financing.
The Act amended offenses involving danger to persons; kidnapping and related crimes; terrorism; offenses against property; robbery; hijacking; money laundering and terrorist financing, and is replaced with a new section entitled: “Offenses Involving Terrorist Acts.”
Terrorism, according to security sources, has been and continues to threaten domestic as well as international peace and security, including the execution of brazen, deadly and dastardly acts in the West African sub-region.
Liberia, as a member of the comity of nations, passed the Act in 2013 to establish procedures for the distribution of the United Nations’ list of terrorists and terrorist groups, but the Act failed to adequately address issues that necessitated the new legislation.
During plenary debate on Tuesday, Senators stressed the imperative need to amend and pass the legislation, “because Liberia as a sovereign state and a responsible member of the comity of nations is duty bound to meet all obligations expected of the United Nations, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other international bodies to contribute positively towards the attainment of international peace and security.”
Many security experts view the successful passage of the Act by the Senate as complementing the United Nations, African Union, ECOWAS and a myriad of inter-governmental, public and international institutions’ efforts to prevent and counteract the menace of terrorism by appropriate lawful domestic measures.
Excerpts culled from the “Mandatory Targeted Sanctions” state that funds of domestically-designated persons, groups or organizations shall immediately, and without delay, be frozen and that the implementing authority shall immediately, and as swiftly as possible, comply with measures in the Act.
Moreover, the Act states that competent authorities shall deny entry into or transit from Liberia of designated persons either domestically or internationally and that entry or exit out of the country may be permitted where such permission is to facilitate apprehension, extradition, mutual legal assistance or other legal international cooperation.
Additionally, the Act detailed that competent authorities shall prohibit the supply, sale or transport of weapons and ammunitions, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment and supplies to designate individuals, groups or organizations and shall also prohibit technical advice and related military training or any other intangible form of support.
The Act mandates that the Attorney General (Justice Minister) shall appoint a 5-member sub-committee from among the ranks of the joint security to be called the Counter-Terrorism Advisory Committee (CTAC), with each agency contributing one member.
Manifestly, the Act states that upon the issuance of the list and any update from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) shall obtain said list from the Liberian permanent mission to the UN via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or alternatively obtained from UN channels.
Also, “the Act states that immediately upon receipt of the list and within a matter of hours, the FIU shall immediately without delay, circulate the list to all financial institutions or designated non-financial institutions, businesses and professionals, and also post digital link of the most recent list on its website.”
Meanwhile, the Act will be submitted to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for signature and printed into handbills to take effect.