Lawmakers Start Discussing Revised Anti-Terrorism Bill

By Sisay Sahlu

ADDIS ABEBA – The revised anti-terrorism draft law has finally reached the lower house of Ethiopian parliament on Thursday.

The bill, which has been a subject of several debates since Abiy Ahmed took power over a year ago, will repeal the infamous the 2009 Anti-terrorism Proclamation when ratified.

Watchdog groups say the 2009 law’s broad definitions have been used indiscriminately against anyone who opposes government policy.

Among its provisions, it makes anyone publishing information deemed to encourage terrorism liable to a jail term of up to 20 years.

The PM office in mid-May admitted that the existing law has gaps in terms of both content and practicality. It has put citizens’ rights and freedom of speech in jeopardy, and, therefore, the need for the revision, it said.

The draft document named ‘Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism Crimes Proclamation’ was presented by assistant government whip Mesfin Cherinet.

The bill says its focus will be enabling the state to take strong precautionary and preparatory acts that centered on the nature of the crime.

The bill, among other benefits, will help ensure perpetrators receive a penalty proportional to their acts, to implement international treaties and resolutions adopted by the United Nations and the African Union, the document reads.

MPs, after deliberating on the bill, referred the document to its respective standing committee for further hearing.

Similarly, The amended bill to revise the 17 years old Value Added Tax Proclamation has been a subject of discussion in the 42nd regular session of the lower house of the parliament.

Government whip Mesfin said revising the law become necessary in a bid to ease of doing business in Ethiopia.

The house referred this bill to its respective committee for further hearing along with three bills of cooperation agreements with the government of Israeli.

The deals allow Ethiopia and Israel to cooperate in the areas of customs, tourism, and agriculture.