Monrovia - A day after President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made an unannounced visit to the leadership of the Liberian Senate, the body has passed the much coveted “Liberian Anti-terrorist Act” with several amendments.
The Act seeks the prevention of terrorism, arrest and prosecution of terrorists and terrorist financing.
Legislative sources told FrontPage that the President’s visit was in line with her position as chair of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) and she has been under immense pressure to ratify certain international protocols including the Liberian Anti-terrorist act by her colleagues.
Some legislative sources asserted that the President’ visit was to influence the lawmaker’s decision.
Another source also revealed to this paper that the Anti-terrorist protocol, like any other international protocol that has been ratified by the Legislature, has some financial benefits for Liberia which would be directed to the country’s security sector.
Effort by this paper to get a copy of committee’s report that was endorsed by the Senate plenary on Wednesday February 15 did not materialize as committee members said it was a top security matter.
Senator Oscar Cooper (UP-Margibi County), the man who recently declared that he is going to be a candidate in the October 2017election, protested during Tuesday’s session about the manner and form the report was being handled by the committee.
He raised issues about the inability of the committee to distribute the reports to all members of the senate, according to body’s standing rules.
Sen. Cooper argued that if he is to be empowered to participate in debates surrounding the issue, he needs a copy for the report to peruse.
However, his protest was ignored by Pro Temp Armah Jallah, who ordered the Margibi County lawmaker, to seek legal remedy under the Senate rules.
FPA has gathered that the protocol was part of many instruments submitted to the Legislature by President Sirleaf for action in December of 2016.
But the Legislature failed to act on the President’s request which was part of 15 bills submitted to the Legislature in 2016 special sitting.
With a deadline in February, the committee stayed late hours in working session Monday February 13, to deliberate and present a report to plenary for action since there was limited time to prepare a report that could be circulated to all members.
What the Protocol Says?
In a statement issued by the office of the Senate Pro-tempore, the amended act included offenses involving danger to person; kidnapping and related crimes, terrorism; offenses against property; robbery; hijacking; money laundering and terrorist financing.
The aforementioned offenses were replaced with a new section entitled “offenses involving terrorist acts”.
“Terrorism continues to threat to domestic security 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 United Nations list of terrorists and terrorist groups, but the act failed to adequately address issues that necessitated the legislation.
The statement from Pro-Temp Jallah’s office said during plenary debate which was held in secret sessions, senators stressed the 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 United Nations, African Union, ECOWAS and other international or international bodies to contribute positively towards the attainment of international peace and security.
Successfully, the passage of the act by the Liberian Senate complements the United Nations, African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and myriad intergovernmental and public international institutions effort to prevent and counteract the menace of terrorism by appropriate lawful domestic measures.
Excerpts culled from the “Mandatory Targeted Sanctions” states 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 out of 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, sales or transport weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment and supplies to designate individuals, groups or organization and shall also prohibit technical advice and related military training or any other intangible form of support.
The act mandates that the Attorney General shall appoint a 5-member sub-committee from amongst the ranks of the joint security to be called the Counter-Terrorism Advisory committee (CTAC) with each agency contributing one member.
The Act said 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 United Nations via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or alternatively obtained from UN channels.
It also 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 institution businesses and professionals and also post digital link of the most recent list on its website.
The act will be submitted to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for signature and printed into handbills to take effect.