New penal code delayed by three months

Parliament’s national security committee plans to defer by three months the enforcement of the new penal code, which will bring widespread changes to the Maldivian legal system, reports Haveeru.

The penal code is due to come into force on Monday, April 13 but ruling Progressive Party of Maldives MP Jameel Usman told the local daily that he believed more time was needed to raise awareness among the public.

The current penal code was passed in 1966.

Maldivian Democratic Party MP Mariya Ahmed Didi accused the government of delaying implementation of the new code in order to prosecute opposition supporters and mete out harsh punishments under existing laws.

At today’s meeting of the oversight committee, which is dominated by pro-government lawmakers, Usman proposed adding a clause to the penal code to postpone its enforcement.

The oversight committee was reviewing a government-backed bill submitted to bring minor changes to the new penal code ahead of its enforcement. Usman’s clause has been added to the amendment bill after a majority of the committee’s MPs voted in favour.

A sitting of parliament is meanwhile expected to take place on Sunday for voting on the bill. If the legislation is passed, President Abdulla Yameen will have to ratify it on the same day to postpone the implementation.

The revised penal code was passed on April 1, 2014 with a one-year period to prepare institutions for the seminal changes to the criminal justice system.