The Keith Mitchell-led government in St. George’s has taken legislation to Parliament to make some changes to the island’s Terrorism act.
According to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Legal Affairs, Elvin Nimrod the Terrorism Amendment Bill was brought to the Lower House by Government in an effort to comply with international requests and standards to deal with terrorist groups like the feared Islamic States (ISIS) in the Middle East.
Nimrod told legislators that after 9/11 in which the World Trade Center was destroyed in New York, the world has changed significantly and as such Grenada is moving to strengthen its laws to be able to combat these issues.
“We all are concerned as to what’s happening now in terms of security and Mr Speaker we are all aware that today, the very dangerous acts and activities of certain groups internationally and otherwise put us on the defence. No one can deny what is happening today is something that shock the countries in terms of what these terrorists groups are doing,” he said.
The Terrorism Amendment bill seeks to amend the Terrorism Act No. 16 of 2012 to criminalise the recruiting, membership, and dissemination of terrorist publication and the making of statements likely to encourage terrorism.
There is an insertion of a new section in the Act, section 15A that deals with recruiting for a terrorist organisation.
Nimrod noted that although Grenada is a small island, recruiting persons by terrorist organisations is quite relevant to the island.
“You know at one time …the attitude was I don’t think we are any threat to these organisations internationally because little Grenada, in this region, nobody pays attention and I believe it’s a mistake to take that attitude”, he said.
“…The world has become so small and we might not be the intended victim but because of the smallness of the world and the gravity of the situation we might well be victims of those situations and this (is) why in the amendment, we are trying to deal with people who recruit terrorists,” he added.
The amendment makes provisions for persons, who attempt to recruit anyone or encourage anyone to join a terrorist organisation to be penalised.
Under the law, a person who commits an offence is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $50,000 or to imprisonment for five years or both.
There is also a penalty under that section for persons who become a member of a terrorist group.
It said: “A person commits an offence if he or she joins or become a member of a terrorist organisation or participates in activities of a terrorist organisation is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $50,000 or to imprisonment for five years or both fine and imprisonment. Upon conviction and indictment to be fined $100,000 or imprisonment for up to 20 years,” he said.
Minister Nimrod pointed out that a person can be deemed to have committed an offence under the act if he or she creates a terrorist publication, distributes or circulates it.
“The essence of this amendment is to strengthen the principal act to deal with the present day situation. We cannot be paralysed and say nothing is happening now and so we don’t have to do anything… this is a very opportune time, we cannot wait until it’s too late,” the Minister said.
The senior government Minister did not give particulars on who would declare something printed to be “a terrorist publication”.