Biological and Toxin Weapons Crimes Bill - HB 5-2013

BIOLOGICAL AND TOXIN WEAPONS CRIMES BILL, 2013

Explanatory Memorandum

This Bill will prohibit the development, production, manufacture, possession, stockpiling, other acquisition or retention, importation, exportation, re-exportation, transportation, transit, trans-shipment, transfer or use of certain biological agents and toxins and of biological weapons, and will implement in Zimbabwe the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (the Convention) of 10 April 1972 under the auspices of the United Nations, and the Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare of 17 June 1925 under the auspices of the League of Nations, (the texts of which are set out in First and Second Schedules to this Act) as amended from time to time.

 

Preamble

The Preamble to the Bill quotes section 327 (2) of the Constitution which provides that anyconvention, treaty or agreement acceded to, concluded or executed by or under the authority of the President with one or more foreign states or governments or international organizations shall, except as otherwise provided by the Constitution or by or under an Act of Parliament, not form part of the law of Zimbabwe unless it has been incorporated into the law by or under an Act of Parliament.

Clause 1

This clause sets out the Bill’s short title.

Clause 2

This clause contains the definitions of terms used in the Bill.

Clause 3

This clause incorporates the Convention to be part of the law of Zimbabwe and binds the State to the provisions of the Bill.

Clause 4

This clause prohibits the use in any way of biological agents, toxins or weapons. It further creates an offence for any person who encourages assists, counsels, procures, incites, facilitates or finances the commission of, or attempts or conspires to commit, an offence under this clause.

Clause 5

This clause identifies the Secretary for Defence as the responsible authority for the purposes of this Bill.  In discharging the functions of the responsible authority, the Secretary will be assisted and advised by the National Authority Advisory Committee as constituted in the Second Schedule to the Chemical Weapons (Prohibition) Act [Chapter 11:18].

Clause 6

This clause provides for the licensing of biological agents or toxins for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes. Failure to comply with the conditions of the issued licence will constitute an offence.

Clause 7

This clause provides for the general and statutory conditions attaching to every licence in addition to any conditions that may be specified in each particular licence. A licence may permit the possession, use, manufacture, etc. of biological agents or toxins for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes, but under no circumstances will a licence be issued for the possession, use, manufacture, etc. of biological weapons.

Clause 8

This clause provides for the issuance, duration, surrender and renewal of licences.

Clause 9

This clause provides for the suspension and cancellation of licences.

Clause 10

This clause provides for the amendment and replacement of licences.

Clause 11

This clause provides that persons licensed under the Medicines and Allied Substances Control Act [Chapter 15:03] to manufacture any medicine involving the use or possession of a biological agent or toxin, will be deemed to be licensed under this Bill.

Clause 12

This clause provides for the establishment and maintenance up to date of the Register of General and Premises Licences for the Possession of Biological Agents and Toxins, which will be open to public inspection.

Clause 13

This clause provides for offences by licensed persons.

Clause 14

This clause provides for the appointment of inspectors and analysts who are required for the purpose of the Bill.  To begin with, these persons will be drawn almost exclusively from the inspectorate and staff of the Environmental Management Agency and the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe.  However, provision is made for the employment in the Ministry of Defence of civilian and military personnel as analysts and inspectors.

Clause 15

This clause deals with the powers of inspectors. In terms of this clause every inspector must be issued with a certificate of appointment signed by the Minister. Inspectors are given the power to enter and inspect any place in which they believe on reasonable grounds that an offence is being committed.

Clause 16

This clause prohibits the obstruction and giving of false statements to an inspector or analyst engaged in carrying out his or her duties and further enjoins every person to assist the inspector or analyst to perform his or her duties on request by the inspector or analyst.

Clause 17

This clause deals with directions requiring security measures that an inspector may give to a licensee. These directions must be given in writing.

Clause 18

This clause extends the criminal jurisdiction of Zimbabwean courts over certain extra-territorial acts constituting offences against this Bill where the alleged offender is not a resident or citizen of Zimbabwe.

Clause 19

This clause enjoins every licensee or applicant for a licence to provide such information and keep such documents as may be prescribed.

Clause 20

This clause provides for the keeping of confidential information.

Clause 21

This clause provides for the admissibility of evidence tendered by an analyst. A certificate signed by an analyst setting out, in relation to a biological agent or toxin, one or more of a list of affirmations will be admissible in any proceedings for the prosecution of an offence against this Bill.

Clause 22

This clause provides for appeals against the refusal of licence applications made in terms of this Bill.

Clause 23

This clause provides for the powers of the Minister to make regulations in terms of the Bill.

Clause 24

This clause provides for the publication of any amendments to the Convention. The Minister is required to make appropriate amendments when the Convention is amended and publish such amendment through a notice in a Statutory Instrument.

Clause 25

This clause provides for transitional matters.  In particular, persons who are, at the date of commencement of this Bill when it becomes an Act, already licensed under the Medicines and Allied Substances Control Act [Chapter 15:03] to manufacture any medicine involving the use or possession of a biological agent or toxin, will be deemed to be licensed under this Bill.

Clause 26

This clause will make consequential amendments to the Chemicals Weapons (Prohibition) Act [Chapter 11:18] (No. 9 of 1998) with regard to the composition and functions of National Authority Advisory Committee for the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.  This committee will also serve as the advisory committee to the responsible authority under this Bill.

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