MOGADISHU, Somalia (Caasimada Online) – Somalia’s lower house of Parliament passed a new anti-terrorism law on Wednesday to provide a legal framework for government security agencies to fight better and eradicate terrorism.
After weeks of debate, the bill received 133 votes in favor, three against, and seven abstentions. The new law is seen as a crucial measure to make Somalia a safer place.
It is perceived as a shield for women and children against terrorist attacks.
Concerns raised over broad definition of terrorism
Critics of the legislation have raised concerns about the overly broad definition of who is considered a terrorist.
They fear the new law could grant government security agencies excessive and unchecked power.
During the debates, some lawmakers expressed reservations about the legislation, noting that the law could negatively affect innocent citizens, especially if future leaders do not have good intentions.
Lawmaker cautions against arrests without court orders
Some lawmakers caution that the new bill should not give government agencies the power to arrest suspects without court orders.
Somali journalist-turned-lawmaker Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, a five-time survivor of al-Shabab terror attacks, emphasized that the new law should not conflict with the country’s constitution.
However, MP Mahdi Mohamed Guled, Somalia’s former deputy prime minister, believes that the bill’s definition of terrorism is clear and will target known terrorist organizations and groups.
Second important bill endorsed amid tough war with Al-Shabab
This is the second important bill to pass through Somalia’s Parliament in two months.
Early last month, both the lower and upper chambers of Somalia’s Parliament officially endorsed the National Intelligence and Security Agency of Somalia (NISA) bill.
The bill aims to expand the powers of the country’s intelligence agency.
It has faced criticism from Human Rights Watch, who believe it could lead to human rights violations. Somalia is in a brutal war with al-Shabab, al-Qaida’s most lethal and powerful group in East Africa.
13 Al-Shabab militants executed for terrorist attacks
In a separate development, 13 al-Shabab militants convicted of murdering officials and carrying out terrorist attacks in the northeastern Somali region of Puntland were recently executed by firing squad in three different towns.
Puntland military court chairperson Abdifitah Haji Adam noted that the suspects were found guilty of carrying out terrorist attacks and assassinations in which they killed government officials, security officers, and civilians, including pregnant women and children.
In addition to the al-Shabab members, the court executed five Puntland soldiers for killing other soldiers and civilians.
Despite US drone strikes that have killed some of al-Shabab’s top leaders, the group still carries out frequent suicide bombings and assaults on Somalia’s hotels and military targets.
Some of its fighters have spread north to the Puntland mountainous areas to set up bases, making the group more resilient than expected.
In recent years, al-Shabab has assassinated dozens of government officials in Puntland, including the attorney general of Puntland Military Courts, the third deputy commander of Puntland Police Forces, and the director of the Presidential Palace.