Terrorist and Related Activities Bill – Top Concerns

by FOR SA
14 October 2022

The Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorist and Related Activities Amendment Bill [B15-2022] (the “Terrorist and Related Activities Bill”) is currently open in front of Parliament for public comment. The deadline for public comment on the Bill is Tuesday, 18 October 2022. The Bill is open to abuse and could be used to severely limit various constitutional rights. FOR SA strongly encourages everyone to submit comments on this Bill using the DearSA platform here.

Concern 1 – Wide definition of “terrorist activity”:
The Bill’s proposed definition runs over two (2) pages in length and contains numerous broad and vague phrases that are open to abuse. For example, it is problematic that no specified criteria for either a “serious public emergency” or a “general insurrection” are listed. Neither are these instances defined.

This possibility for abuse is concerning given that civil society organisations have recently been labelled by Government as “instigating terrorism” and/or “sabotage”. An unintended consequence of the Bill could therefore be to criminalise the voices of those opposing Government actions and/or curb civil society’s dialogue and actions in what is a participatory democracy.

Concern 2 – Prohibition of publication with unlawful terrorism related content:
The Bill proposes, amongst other things, the criminalisation of possession and distribution of whatever is deemed to be “terrorism related content”. This is problematic due to the vague and overbroad definition of “terrorism activity” (see Concern 1 above). 

The possibility exists, therefore, that voices opposing and/or criticising Government actions and/or decisions at some point in the future be deemed to be “terrorist activity”, the result will be that the possession and/or (online) sharing of any content from these organisations / people will be seen as a crime. The Bill proposes a jail sentence of up to five (5) years for this new crime.

Public participation:
The extended deadline for written comments to Parliament is Tuesday, 18 October 2022. FOR SA strongly encourages everyone to submit comments on this Bill using the DearSA platform here.

See this interview between FOR SA‘s Executive Director, Michael Swain, and DearSA’s Rob Hutchinson discussing the concerns surrounding the Bill in-depth. Read FOR SA‘s legal submission on the Bill here.

 

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