ATTORNEY General Carl Bethel.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE government tabled the Anti-Terrorism Bill 2018 yesterday, which greatly increases the scope of authorities' ability to address terrorist threats beyond what is currently legislated in the 2004 Anti-Terrorism Act.
The bill aims to "strengthen The Bahamas' capacity to suppress and detect terrorist acts or acts designed to facilitate a terrorist act or actions and to bring to trial or extradite, persons committing those acts".
Attorney General Carl Bethel told The Tribune: "The Bahamas is a maritime nation. We run a major transshipment port in Freeport. The dangers of proliferation through shipping routes are real and present. The Bahamas has a large offshore sector which is in part playing a significant role in international financial transactions, some of which could involve aspects of terrorism financing. All these things are realities of the modern interconnected world. Our laws have to keep pace with the stratagems of often sophisticated international criminals."
Among other things, the bill criminalises the development, production, stockpiling, acquisition and retention of biological agents or toxins that have no "justification for prophylactic, protective or peaceful purposes or any weapon, equipment or means of delivery designed to use biological agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict".
Among its many provisions, the bill seeks to "criminalise the use, development, production, transfer or possession of chemical and nuclear weapons" as well as the "financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction".
The bill empowers the minister responsible for national security to create exceptions to the aforementioned restrictions.
The bill would criminalise the "providing or collection of funds for criminal purposes which are terrorism related and does not require that the funds were used to carry out a terrorist offence…".
The bill stipulates that anyone who supports or solicits support for terrorist groups or the commission of terrorist acts is liable for imprisonment for a term not exceeding 20 years.
The bill makes it illegal for a person to create a hoax involving noxious substances or things, explosives or other lethal material. Someone who places a substance in a place with the intention of causing people to believe the substance contains a noxious substance or is lethal can face up to 15 years in prison.