Summary of Issues Relating to the Prohibition of Mercenary Activities Bill [B42-2005]

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Defence and Military Veterans

30 May 2006
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

30 May 2006


Mr T Tobias (ANC)

Documents handed out:

Summary: Issues Relating to the Prohibition of Mercenary Activities Bill [B42-2005]
Prohibition of Mercenary Activities and Prohibition and Regulation of Certain Activities in Areas of Armed Conflict Bill [B42-2005]

Ms M van Niekerk (Committee Researcher) briefed the Committee on the issues relating to the Prohibition of Mercenary Activities and Prohibition and Regulation of Certain Activities in an Area of Armed Conflict Bill [B42-2005]. The Committee asked for the recommendations made by stakeholders to be added. The Committee decided to study the documents regarding the Bill and discuss the issues further at the following meeting.

Ms van Niekerk highlighted the main issues included in the summary. Definitions of the terms "armed conflict" "assistance or service" and "military activity" needed to be clarified. Questions had been raised regarding the inclusion of enlistment in foreign armed forces in the Bill. It had been questioned why humanitarian assistance was included in the Bill. Problems with the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) were raised; it was not given sufficient guidance in its task to effectively criminalise conduct in cases where authorisation was refused. The Bill did not contain any transitional provisions to cover those security companies already involved in activities prohibited by the proposed legislation. The current version of the Bill violated procedural fairness. The Bill violated rights to freely choose and practice one’s profession, the right to property, the right to a fair trial and the freedom of belief\, opinion and conscience. The extra-territorial application of the Bill was problematic.

The Chairperson said the document was a summary of the issues that were raised at previous meetings.

Mr P Groenewald (FFP) suggested that the final document include recommendations on each issue and definitions of terms.

Mr Ali-Sha Sayed (DA) said that a procedure should be established to ensure the Bill went through. Those that offered assistance should be identified and the recommendations added.

Mr G Koornhof (ANC) proposed to accept the document for the Committee and to study and discuss it later. He said the humanitarian issue was much bigger than the NCACC but this was not reflected by the length. A second presentation by SAPS might be required and the Department should be given the opportunity to feed back. He said the recommendations from the submissions needed to be seen by the Committee.

Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) said the Committee planned to have a recommendation on each issue. It needed a convergence of ideas on issues such as the NCACC and humanitarian assistance. The submissions aided the Committee but the Committee was not prevented from forming its own ideas.

The Chairperson said the Committee had not looked at the Bill and developed its position. It was important to know what the responses were so they could be taken into account. Minutes from previous meetings would be provided. The Committee could review the submissions and discuss them later. The key issues of enlistment, definitions, humanitarian assistance and extra-territorial jurisdiction needed to be dealt with. A copy of the Geneva Convention would be made available for members because it dealt with issues such as the definition of armed conflict.

Mr Sayed said the Committee needed a plan of action to provide for specific areas that needed to be changed and to get legal advice.

The Chairperson responded that all changes to the Bill needed to be made by the Committee, which had the capability to do that.

Mr Sayed stated that he wanted the Bill to be sound before going to the House, which was why legal advisors were needed.

Mr Groenewald asked about the schedule and programmes, noting that a Bill with Safety and Security was also coming up.

Mr Ndlovu agreed that cooperation was needed regarding the schedule.

The Chairperson said the Committee needed to study the documents.

Mr Sayed suggested a cut-off date for sending submissions back to the Committee.

The Chairperson said the Committee should not be impatient regarding inputs. The Committee had no position regarding the situation in the DRC with Omega security and would request a briefing from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The meeting was adjourned.



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