UAE's anti-terror initiative takes another step forward

An anti-terror centre will find ways to support victims of terrorism by working with academics and religious and community leaders.

Powered by automated translation

ABU DHABI // A law allowing the anti-terror centre Hedayah to become an independent organisation has been passed by the FNC.

The facility, which means guidance in Arabic, will investigate terrorism and its roots and find ways to support victims of terrorism by working with academics and religious and community leaders.

Although the law is still to receive final approval from the President, Sheikh Khalifa, before enactment, the centre has been running for the past year.

Members were unsure why there was a need for the law if the centre was already in operation.

"There is a need for the centre - but does it need a law to work?" asked Marwan bin Ghalita (Dubai). He said similar centres were already set up in Saudi Arabia, Somalia and the United States and none was governed by a law.

Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for FNC Affairs and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said the UAE committed to establishing the centre at the Global Counterterrorism Forum held in New York in 2011 and the centre was meant to be international, not Emirati. "The country studied options to open such a centre," he said. "We saw there was little legal possibility for this, so needed a law to establish this centre."

He said until the law is passed the UAE has to finance the centre. Afterwards, it will be financed by the 30 member countries of the Global Counterterrorism Forum.

"The centre will be independent, not national," he said. "Without a law giving it independency, we are paying."

Mr bin Ghalita insisted there was no need for the law.

Dr Gargash disagreed. "Right now we are paying for this, it is still under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," he said. He said the best option was to give the centre - the executive director of which must be Emirati - operational independence via federal law.

The bill makes clear that the UAE will not be responsible for illegal practices committed by its staff or activists in the course of their work, but states the centre will still "fall under the jurisdiction of UAE laws and is not allowed to perform any acts that breach laws of the UAE or contradict its interests".