Somalia: counterterrorism law proposed in Puntland regional state

On July 17, 2010 the Puntland Council of Ministers unanimously approved a new anti-terrorism law, which, if enacted by the state’s parliament, will establish a special court to try terrorism suspects and their accomplices.

“We recognize as a terrorist anyone who plans to terrorize the people with merciless killings, bombings of civilian centers, and any plan designed to destroy state security,” Puntland Security Minister Kheir told reporters in Garowe, Puntland’s state capital.

Minister Kheir said the Puntland government decided to create the new counterterrorism law after a series of political assassinations and bombings targeting officials in Puntland, considered among Somalia’s most stable regions. The new anti-terror law comes at a time a group of militants hiding out in the Galgala hills area, west of Puntland’s port city of Bossaso, have declared loyalty to insurgent groups in southern Somalia including Mogadishu.

Observers say the new counterterrorism law is part of Puntland’s strategy to fight against insurgent groups like Al Shabaab, who seek to take power in Somalia through violent force and oppose self-governments like Puntland.

Puntland’s 66-seat Parliament, authorized by the 2009 constitution to elect a Puntland president every five years, is expected to debate the new anti-terror law and vote soon.

(H/T Law Library of Congress)

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