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House passes financing, proliferation of WMD

House passes financing, proliferation of WMD

The House of People’s Representatives (HPR) passed a draft bill on the prevention and suppression of financing and proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) which was provided last month.

The new bill was designed to address the recently surging illegal arms trafficking while its preparation was given due attention in line with the Conventions and Treaties on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Use of WMD and their Proliferation.

The draft law was presented last month where MPs made firsthand debate on the draft’s provisions, and then referred it to the Foreign and Peace Affairs Standing Committee for further scrutiny.

During its 21st regular session held on Tuesday, the House heard the Standing Committee’s resolution presented by Tesfaye Daba, the Chair of the Standing Committee.

Presenting the resolution, Tesfaye explained that the issuance of a national law has become necessary in accordance with what was agreed on by the convention which necessitates each party to adopt the necessary measures to implement its obligations under the conventions and treaties it entered into.

He further said that members of the committee have agreed on the necessity of the bill noting, “If the country ratifies this convention, it will help facilitate the smooth transferring of finances and investments that flow to Ethiopia from other signatory countries while it helps banks save their time, which usually takes a long time to verify the sources and legality of finances transferred through them.”

In the resolution, the standing committee has revised the proposed resolution which designates the penalty against any person who is found to have violated the law originally.

For instance, the draft bill first proposed a penalty that would punish offenders “a rigorous imprisonment up to ten to fifteen years or with a fine not exceeding 100,000 birr or both.” Nevertheless, the Standing Committee increased the level of punishment to 15 years of imprisonment or with a fine not exceeding one million birr.

Meanwhile, for offences committed by a juridical person, the committee revised the punishment, in addition to administrative measures, from 500,000-1,000,000 birr to 5,000,000 – 10,000,000 birr million birr. 

Furthermore, the bill establishes a National Committee on the Non-Proliferation of WMD accountable to the Prime Minister.

Similarly, the Ministry of Peace (MoP) will serve as the secretariat to the committee.

The Committee is granted with around seven major lists of powers and responsibilities that mainly include providing direction and leadership in the evaluation of the risk of financial support for proliferation of WMD made in Ethiopia or by using Ethiopia as a transit corridor.

Additionally, it is responsible for overseeing the domestic implementation of sanctions of the United Nations Security Council in relation to financing of proliferation of WMD while proving guidance and support. Similarly, the Council of Ministers (CoM) is also empowered, among others, with the power of issuing orders to freeze any funds, other assets and economic resources of a person designated by the United Nation Security Council Resolution.