(Aug. 29, 2008) On July 18, 2008, the Parliament of Ghana passed an anti-terrorism bill into law. According to news reports, the aim of the new legislation is “to suppress and detect acts of terrorism, prevent the territory, resources and financial services of the country from being used to commit terrorism [sic] acts and to protect the rights of the people in the country to live in peace, freedom and security.” (Anti-Terrorism Bill Passed, JOY ONLINE, July 18, 2008, available at http://www.myjoyonline.com/politics/200807/18433.asp.).
As presented at the third reading, the bill stipulated a punishment ranging from seven to 25 years in prison, for “anyone who aids or abets a terrorist organization by way of financial support, training, recruiting, providing and transporting property and weaponry, harboring terrorists and concealing inside-information regarding a terrorist act.” This is in contrast to the penalty considered during the first reading in Parliament, when the sentence on conviction was at least two years of imprisonment “with a fine of 500 penalty units,” or a minimum ten-year sentence without a fine. (Rebecca Putterman, Anti-Terrorism Bill in Parliament, ACCRA DAILY GUIDE, July 10, 2008, Open Source Center No. AFP20080711566009.) The minority National Democratic Congress party objected to the seven-year minimum term. Its members contended that “defining a terrorist act, let alone defining complicity in a terrorist act, is too vague and arbitrary for the Justice System to be locked into such a limited sentencing structure.” MP Mahama Ayarigha expressed concernover “using legislation that is very broad,” adding that a “regime can begin to use it to punish political open ends” and citing the U.S. Patriot Act “as a law that has gone too far in giving power to the Executive in the realm of justice.” (Id.)
Because Ghana, as a member of the Commonwealth, is committed to the Commonwealth Plan of Action on Terrorism, it is bound along with the other 52 Commonwealth member states to U.N. Security Council Resolution 1373. Ghana is also a party to the Algiers Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism of 1999, which obliges states parties to “review their national laws to include terrorist offences.” (Id.)