National, News

SPLIT House passes National Security Bill

By William Madouk

 

Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) yesterday passed the National Security Act 2014 (amendment) Bill 2024 maintaining articles that grant arrest without warrant.

This came amid heated debate and contrasting views among lawmakers.

The controversial bill was tabled by the Chairperson of the Committee on National Security and Public Order, Kom Kom Geng, for third reading.

The most contentious sections were 54 and 55, which granted the National Security Service (NSS) unfettered and autonomous authority to detain suspects without a warrant of arrest.

The heated debate over the Articles engulfed the TNLA, with lawmakers divided on the merits of the proposed amendments.

During the final voting session, House Speaker Jemma Nunu Kumba put the bill to a vote, which resulted in 274 lawmakers voting in favor and 114 voting against, out of a total quorum of 391 members present.

Oliver Mori, the spokesperson of the House said “as the parliamentarians we have already resolved that the National Security Service Bill is passed with sections or Article which you may refer to as 54 and 55, this is the resolution of the House.”

“Since there was no consensus over this bill and especially section 54 and 55 the House decided to exercise their democratic right.”

“In the voting 274 in favour and 114 against with 3 abstention people who did not go for this or that and as per parliamentary regulation the bill is passed by the majority of the House,” Mori continued.

 

Heated debate

Prior to the passing of the Bill, lawmakers were divided, with some wanting it not to be passed without amending the contentious Articles.

Supporters of the bill, argue that the amendments are not necessary as the Bill will enhance the NSS’s ability to maintain national security and combat threats to stability.

MP Daniel Abocha Ali said when security is given the right to arrest without a warrant, it doesn’t mean they would arrest you at your house for doing nothing but on serious crimes against the state.

“Now, assume somebody is planning a coup and national security happens to learn of such a person, so do you need a warrant of arrest to arrest the situation? No! Assume someone is counterfeiting the money – this are serious crime against the state,” he argued.

“So why do few of us think that this law is only targeting them, there is nothing like that and I ask the August House not to waste time let us pass this document,” he added.

Also, lawmaker Mary Nyariek concurred with the latter citing that when Sudan scrapped arrest without a warrant for security, the country collapsed, adding that the country is not yet at peace with civilians having guns.

“Rt. Hon speaker South Sudan is not secure and is not at peace, where the civilians are still having guns, we cannot leave our national security to be disarmed,” she said.

“Rt Hon Speaker there is no rush, whatever thinks will come to power can amend this bill but right now since the Army is not one and every MP has their own army, we cannot remove it,” Nyariek continued.

When asked to withdraw,the  MP defended that “rt Hon, some MPs are generals and they have security bodyguards in their houses, so I am correct.”

However, MP Benjamin Awour Malual, representing Awerial County on the SPLM-IO ticket argued that “Madam Speaker when we are making laws, we don’t make laws to ourselves, we make laws for a generation to come – the one we are making today we have individuals that we are targeting.”

But another lawmaker challenged his claims on the word ‘tragic on individual’ forcing him to withdraw. But he stood firm that those two sections were when the country was in an emergency state.

“This bill was amended in 2014 when South Sudan was in the state of emergency. Today, we are no longer in a state of emergency Madam Speaker these sections; 54 and 55 must be scrapped.”

“Madam Speaker National Security is not even supposed to arrest people or have detention facility to detain people,” he added.

In harmony, the first deputy Speaker Nathaniel Oyet stressed that two sections were to be removed, asserting that there was an argument for its deletion in which the two principals agreed on the same

“There were some arguments for the deletion of sections, on the basis that it going to abuse the service and that arrest and detention should be law and possible function of the police not of the national security,” said Oyet.

He clarified that the National Security mandate was to ‘gather’ ‘analyses and ‘advise’ relevant authorities.

“Rt. Hon the president, four vice presidents and the cabinet ministers reconstitute the leadership of the government of the honourable members of the parties to the revitalized agreement – and all of us must respect what our leadership presents and direct to us,” he added.

Meanwhile, MP Daniel Abocha Ali challenged that citing that there was no official letter from principals to the house to scrap section 54 and 55.

In August 2022, the former Minister of Presidential Affairs, Dr. Barnaba Marial said Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar referred the matter to the Ministry of Justice for the Ministry of National Security.

 

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