Majlis to resume with amendments proposed for terror law

Majlis to resume with amendments proposed for terror law
February 21 17:21 2016

The People’s Majlis will reconvene tomorrow after a week-long pause with ruling party MPs set to propose amendments to the new anti-terror law.

Details of the amendment were not available, as Mohamed Saud Hussain, the Progressive Party of the Maldives MP who is sponsoring the proposal, was not responding to calls.

The watchdog Human Rights Commission of the Maldives has urged changes to the law, arguing it presented obstacles for fundamental freedoms, while opposition politicians said they feared the vague definitions of terrorism in the law could be used to silence dissent.

The Attorney General’s office was not responding to inquiries.

The new act replaces a 1990 terror law, and sets harsher penalties for a range of actions, including leaving the Maldives to fight in a foreign war.

The ruling coalition dominated parliament has convened just once since its inaugural session on February 4.

The February 15 sitting saw ruling coalition MPs throw out an urgent motion by the opposition calling for an inquiry into the embezzlement of funds from the state-owned Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation. Some 26 MPs belonging to the governing coalition voting to reject the motion.

According to a damning audit report on the missing funds released earlier this month, some US$65.01 million collected as acquisition costs from leasing islands, lagoons and plots of land for resort development were siphoned off into private bank accounts.

The parliament last week also accepted for consideration an amendment to the law on privileges for former presidents. If passed it would slash immunities and privileges for a former president convicted of a criminal offence.

Former president and opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail on a terror charge, triggering a political crisis that continues to roil the Maldives.

MP Abdul Latheef Mohamed, who proposed the change, later denied that the amendment was targeted at Nasheed.

PPM also submitted a bill on gender equality on February 15, which will be up for debate tomorrow.

The opposition had boycotted the state opening of the parliament after the secretariat announced a last minute change of venue in the aftermath of a minor fire at the parliament house.