Legal Eagle : Everyone is a target for terrorists
Last week's act of terrorism which resulted in the untimely death of 22 people, including children, and injuries to an additional 60 concert attendees in Manchester, England, while leaving a concert headlined by American singer Ariana Grande, is nothing short of being callous and heinous.
The leaders of many countries around the world rightfully condemned the detonation of a bomb by British citizen Salman Abedi, and sent letters to Prime Minister May of England to express their condolences and support for the people of Manchester.
In the aftermath of this terrible tragedy, ISIS has already claimed responsibility.
For the millions of people who live in what is called 'Third World' countries, we must now wonder what steps have been taken by our Governments to deal with terrorism, and what is likely to happen to us if it appears so easy to cause mass killings in these developed countries.
In modern times, the real fight against terrorism began after September 11, 2001, the day on which one of the most brutal attacks occurred. This attack is popularly called 9/11, and it involved terrorists who used commercial airlines as weapons of mass destruction and brought down the twin towers of New York and hoped to use another to strike the Pentagon. More than 3,000 persons died. By this act, the world was brought to a standstill. There was a hush in the skies, which is usually filled with the roaring sound of jet engines.
Before 9/11, the Government of Jamaica, like many others, enacted the Money Laundering Act, 1998 to stem the cleansing of 'dirty money' and to prevent any dealing in property that is derived from the commission of specified offences or to prevent acts aimed at acquiring, concealing, disguising and bringing those properties to Jamaica or converting or transferring the property and moving it from Jamaica. There is very little doubt that there is a link between terrorists and those who control the drug trade.
However, in response to 9/11, on September 28, 2001, the United Nations (UN) condemned the attack, and the Security Council Resolution 1373 called on states to freeze terrorist financing, pass anti-terrorism laws, prevent suspected terrorist from travelling across international borders, and ordered that asylum seekers be screened for possible terrorist ties. The UN pushed all countries to immediately take steps against terrorists.
In light of the threat to humanity caused by terrorism, states began to cooperate, and by becoming signatories to the UN Resolution, they passed anti-terrorism legislations at the speed of light. For instance, in November 2001, the Jamaican Government signed the International Convention for the Suppression of Financing Terrorism.
Further, in April 2005, in order to bring domestic legislation in line with UN Resolutions, the Terrorism Prevention Act was passed to punish any act, omission, conspiracy, aiding, abetting, procuring or counselling that supports terrorist activities. The Terrorism Prevention Act was put in place to ensure that Jamaica conforms to its international obligations while observing the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Jamaican people. The Act forbids the use, possession or dealing in property for terrorist purposes, or even to participate in or facilitate any activity of a terrorist group. Punishment under the Act is heavy in that those charged, if found guilty of facilitating, could be imprisoned for life or fined.
Determined to keep the pressure on terrorists, in March 2010, the House of Representatives amended the Terrorism Prevention Act to allow the minister to introduce heavier penalties, which would ensure that terrorist financing would be subject to severe punishment.
The Jamaica Constabulary Force has also made adjustments and responded to the threat of terrorism with the creation of the Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime Division.
Everyone, including the very poor among us, must understand that the aim of terrorists is to take lives. Their bombs and bullets have no name written on them. The target is the world. Modern technology will help to counter these fanatics, but to assist we must get down to brass tacks. And if you see something that seems suspicious, say something to someone or the authorities. It will likely save a life and much more.