- North Africa
- Terrorism - Governance
New AU laws to tackle Al-Qaeda in Africa
Reports of resurgence in drug trafficking activities, banditry, and hostage taking by groups affiliated to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), in the Sahel region of northern Africa has sparked debates amongst African Union leaders on how to battle terrorism. A new anti-terrorism law will be introduced.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which has declared its intention to attack Algerian, Spanish, French and American targets, has been designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S Department of State, and similarly classed as a terrorist organization by the African and European Union.
And in a bid to find a common ground to fight terrorism in the Sahel region of northern Africa, Algiers-based African Centre for Studies and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT), a sub-structure of the African Union, on Wednesday considered a draft law.
“The law will have to be comprehensive and complete and provide all legal measures to prevent and fight terrorist acts, including the criminalization and penalization of terrorist acts," ACSRT director Francisco Caetano Jose Madeira told reporters.
The African Union sub-structure is expected to take into account international norms and conventions as well as resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council, while strengthening the capability of African countries, and consolidating and harmonizing AU actions against the scourge of terrorism.
Madeira added that cooperation among countries, the strengthening of border controls, the exchange of information, legal assistance and the fight against the financing of terrorist acts will be among the benefits of a law.
AQIM has a long-standing involvement with smuggling, protection rackets and money laundering across the borders of Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya and Chad- which provides the group’s financial underpinnings.
The anti-terrorism conference was attended by the former presidents of Nigeria and South Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo and Thabo Mbeki, the secretary general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, the president of the AU Commission, Jean Ping and, a special envoy of Un Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Taye-Brook Zerihoun.
Last year the United Nations and the African Union passed a resolution "criminalizing the payment of ransoms," in particular to terrorist entities.