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Revisions to criminal procedures law withdrawn

A raft of amendments proposed by the government to the new criminal procedures law was abruptly withdrawn before it was put to a vote at Tuesday’s sitting of parliament.



A raft of amendments proposed by the government to the new criminal procedures law was abruptly withdrawn before it was put to a vote at Tuesday’s sitting of parliament.

According to local media, the bill divided opinion among lawmakers of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives with some complaining that the changes were proposed without consultation.

The bill was made up of more than 90 amendments, including a controversial provision to authorise law enforcement bodies to search public places without a court warrant.

The landmark Criminal Procedures Act, approved in April last year, is due to come into force on July 2. The parliament postponed the enactment of the law in November contending that more time was needed to train law enforcement officers, prosecutor and judges.

The law lays out detailed processes and stringent rules for arrest, investigation, and prosecution. It will also introduce deadlines to conclude investigations and trials.

Attorney General Mohamed Anil and Tourism Minister Moosa Zameer, the PPM’s deputy leader, reportedly met with lawmakers Tuesday morning after a meeting of the PPM’s parliamentary group grew heated.

Presenting the bill, PPM MP Ahmed Mubeen said the proposed changes were compiled based on meetings held during the past year to familiarise police officers, prosecutors, judges and members of independent bodies with the law.

Mubeen insisted that the proposed revisions were minor such as adding provisions on interpreting terms.

After Mubeen introduced the legislation, Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed announced that he would call a vote on whether to accept the bill for consideration without a preliminary debate.

Masheeh said no MP wished to speak after giving less than a minute to request participation in the debate. But some opposition lawmakers said their requests were ignored.

Later on during Tuesday’s sitting, the parliament approved several nominees sent by President Abdulla Yameen.

Former MP Mohamed Nasheed was approved as the new Maldivian ambassador to Thailand. The former Maldivian Democratic Party lawmaker is now the leader of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party, a small party that backed the ruling coalition in last month’s municipal elections.

Deputy Gender Minister Mohamed Zahid was approved to fill a vacancy on the Human Rights Commission of Maldives. Zahid was the commission’s vice president during its previous five-year term that ended in August 2015.

Former HRCM member Shifaq Mufeed ‘Histo’ resigned from the five-member commission in early May. A week later, he was appointed state minister for home affairs.

Three new members were also approved for the executive board of the Local Government Authority, an oversight body tasked with coordinating the work of councils with the central government.

Ahmed ‘Chandhaliya’ Hassan was approved as the civil society representative, Minna Rasheed as the expert in gender equality, and Amir Ali as the expert in governance or public administration.

Yameen ratified an amendment to the decentralisation law in late April that removed six councillors from the LGA’s board.  Six posts reserved for representatives from city and atoll councils as well as a member representing the public were abolished.

The president was authorised to appoint the other five members, subject to parliamentary approval, including a cabinet member, a chief executive officer, a civil society member, and two experts in the fields of gender equality and public administration.