Anti-Personnel Mines Prohibition Bill: deliberations

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Defence and Military Veterans

29 October 2002
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

29 October 2002

Chairperson: Ms T Modise

Documents handed out:
Anti-Personnel Mines Prohibition Bill [B44-2002]

Having held public hearings on Tuesday October 22 at which there was unanimous civil society support for the Bill, the purpose of the meeting was to make minor modifications to the text. Most pertinently were the inclusion in several sections of the words "a component part or a plan" in order to expand the definitions of and prohibitions against anti-personnel mines. Debate on the Bill in the National Assembly is provisionally scheduled for 14 November.

Comments made during the meeting were as follows:
Modise (ANC): The Bill is well drafted. Last week's public hearings were instructive, especially of the risks to workers involved in the manufacture of explosives including landmines. The Minister of Labour should send inspectors to Somchem and Swartklip, and the Committee intends to inspect Swartklip on Thursday [visit later cancelled]. An investigation or board of inquiry seems appropriate. Letters have been sent to the Minister of Public Enterprises and to Denel, but no response has been received thus far.

Schmidt (DP): We see no problems with the Bill, but do have a cautionary note regarding definitions of a landmine. Please list what is included and excluded in the definitions of an anti-personnel landmine, for example a "claymore."

Diale (ANC): May I suggest that the drafters remove or at least reduce the numbers of "whereas's" in the preamble? Surely it is unnecessary? The Committee agreed.

Sendall (Dept of Defence): The definitions in the Ottawa Convention define by effect that an anti-personnel mine "indiscriminately kills or injures people." Accordingly, the words "component parts and plans" are included in the prohibitions. This explanation was accepted.

The Committee agreed that the extraterritorial application of Section 4 should be extended to include permanent residents of South Africa as well as citizens. It agreed that Section 7.2 should be amended by deleting the words "by an organ of state" to limit the number of mines to 5 000.

Chapter 5 regarding appointment of a domestic inspector prompted discussion.

Jankielsohn (DP): What is the purpose of the inspector since we have already destroyed all -but 5 000 mines? Any newly-discovered mines would surely be destroyed by the bomb squad rather than by the inspector?

Modise (ANC): The appointment must be mission-specific.

Sendall (Dept of Defence): It is not intended to have a full-time inspector. An appointment would be specific to an investigation.

Schmidt (DP): The Bill must indicate that the inspectorate is not a full-time appointment.

The term "commonly accepted" in Section 15 (3) was considered too vague. It was agreed to replace this with "internationally-accepted," and to refer to the Geneva Conventions and others standards including UNMAS.

Oosthuizen (ANC): Section 17 (8) that "no person is entitled to compensation for any loss or damage arising out of any bone fide action by a police official or domestic inspection under this section" is unnecessarily high-handed and should be scrapped. The Committee agreed to delete this section.

Modise (ANC): The Explosives Act is being repealed and replaced . How do we allow for this in Section 17 (9)?

Hoon (State Law Adviser): The Interpretation Act provides for such circumstances, and also in inflation adjusting for fines.

Section 25 (3) (b) (iii): insert the words "and mine-risk education."
Section 27 (1) (b): insert "include reports to Parliament."
Section 31: add "SANDF training and civic education that anti-personnel landmines are prohibited."
Section 32: add (c) "tabled in Parliament."

Modise (ANC): The next meeting will be on Tuesday November 5. Mr Diale will chair. The debate in Parliament is scheduled for 14 November 2002.


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