Terrorism Bill withdrawn

IN a major climbdown, the government has withdrawn the first version of the repressive Suppression of Foreign and International Terrorism Bill after conceding that some of its clauses are unconstitutional.

A revised version has since been sent to the printers, the Zimbabwe

Independent gathered this week.

The about-turn followed a meeting the Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC) held with Attorney-General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele and Minister of Home Affairs Kembo Mohadi, who was sponsoring the Bill.

Critics said the Bill was aimed at cracking down on government’s opponents using the spurious excuse of fighting terrorism.

 On Wednesday the chairman of the Parliamentary Legal Committee Welshman Ncube confirmed the development.

 “The committee held a meeting with the Minister of Home Affairs and the Attorney-General,” Ncube said.

“We discussed our objections in terms of clauses that were unconstitutional. They conceded that there were some problems.

“There was an agreement that they were going to make certain amendments to the extent that it was unconstitutional,” Ncube, a lawyer, said.

Ncube said he had not yet seen the new version of the proposed legislation. He said a new version would either be gazetted or introduced in parliament at the stage the old version had reached.

The Bill was gazetted on March 24 and subsequently tabled in parliament where it was referred to the PLC on May 9.

The PLC had intended to pass an adverse report saying the proposed law violated the right to freedom of assembly and association as well as the right to protection before the law.

The committee found clauses 8 (2) (b) and 10(a) (3) to be ultra vires sections 18 and 21 of the Constitution.

The committee said Section 18 provided that every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until proven guilty but clause 8 (2) (b) of the Terrorism Bill violated that. — Staff Writer.

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