AG proposes narrowing ‘the right to remain silent’

The Attorney General Husnu Suood has proposed a bill to be presented to parliament removing the right to remain silent during investigation of people suspected of commit serious crimes.

The bill removes the right given under Article 48[N] of the Constitution that a person need only reveal their name and thereafter remain silent during police questioning.

The bill proposes that the right to remain silent should be removed in such cases such as threatening a person, attacking a person or his property, assault on a person using sharp objects or weapons, murder, drug trafficking, storing drugs to deal, importing drugs, using a sharp object or dangerous weapon in public without a valid reason, storing a sharp object in secret without a valid reason, gang rape and terrorism.

Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair said that the government believed it was necessary to remove the right to remaining silent on these cases.

”Why should we provide the right to remain silent for a man arrested with five kilograms of dope?” Zuhair asked.

”If the bill is passed people arrested in connection with these kind of crimes will be convicted for objection to order if they remain silent.”

He said the police would only arrest a person in the first place if they had conclusive evidence.

Spokesperson for the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) parliamentary group Mohamed Shifaz said the MPs had tried very hard to introduce the right to remain silent.

”The government would try to remove it in certain cases only when they notice a credible reason,” Shifaz said.

Vice president of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Umar Naseer, a former police officer, agreed, saying the right to remain silent “should be removed for all the cases.”

”This would make it very easy to prosecute criminals, so I think it is very important,” he said.

The Maldivian Detainee Network issued a statement saying it was “concerned by the news that the Attorney General proposes to narrow fundamental rights afforded to persons accused of certain serious crimes.”

“We urge the Attorney General and Parliament to ensure that any legislation proposed or passed fully embodies the principle that all persons are innocent until proven guilty. Furthermore, any narrowing of rights must be done in accordance with Article 16 of the Constitution which states that “Any such law enacted by the People’s Majlis can limit the rights and freedoms to any extent only if demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

The NGO added that while it was concerned about the recent rise in crime and “the inability to successfully prosecute criminals, we would like to caution against reactionary steps which threaten fundamental rights.”

“The answer to rising crime in society is the full and effective implementation of a rights-based system by addressing the numerous issues within the criminal justice system,” it urged.

“The rush to discard fundamental rights is not only a short-sighted strategy which not only ignores the moral and practical imperatives behind those rights, but also risks returning to a society in which innocent citizens needed to fear the criminal justice system.”

Deputy Attorney General Abdulla Muiz did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.


7 thoughts on “AG proposes narrowing ‘the right to remain silent’”

  1. I am in favor of tougher judicial standards. I am in favor of stronger legislation and better practices when it comes to establishing the rule of law. But this? This is not okay.

    I am 100% AGAINST removing the right to be silent. It will go against the principle that people are innocent until proven guilty. It will create more forced/coerced confessions (whether people committed the crimes or not) and goes against best judicial practice.

    Umar Naseer is in favor of this!! I mean, come on - of course its a horrible idea.

    Desperate times calls for desperate measures, but not at the expense of every Maldivian's civil liberties. Not at the expense of our judicial rights. A person's conviction CANNOT be based on coerced confessions (and if you remove the right to remain silent, then EVERY CONFESSION IS COERCED AND BECOMES SUSPECT). We cannot condemn anyone based on this.

    Claiming that the government would only remove it in "certain instances" - can any government be trusted this far!? No of course not. Loyalty to MDP is not enough to allow such a blatant attack on our civil rights.

    This is not acceptable at all.

  2. Why do we have to take a step backwards in the name of curbing crimes. If the AG wishes to see criminals behind bars please move the MPS into 21st century. Train them to catch criminals using evidence rather than coerce and forced statements. Next will be allowing the police to detain a person indefinitely on suspicion that he/she is about to break the law and wont be surprised if the Law on protests is changed in the name of maintaining law and order. Rule of law if applied fairly and equally will bring about the changes this government promised. Changing the laws back to the draconian ways of Maumoon will result in the society being divided further. Treat everyone equally whether they belong to the opposition .. don't forget your own roots.

  3. “Liberty has never come from Government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it... The history of liberty is a history of limitations of governmental power, not the increase of it.”

    Woodrow T. Wilson

  4. not only of no confidence against Islamic minister and adhaalath party ban pro vote too.

  5. ”If the bill is passed people arrested in connection with these kind of crimes will be convicted for objection to order if they remain silent.” And this is exactly what we criticized so strongly before. Everyone being prosecuted under that 'one fits all clause'.

    Even if they are charged under the objection to order clause, doesnt mean they are charged or guilty of the crimes they were arrested for. So what is it? A revenge tactic on the state's part?

    As the Detainee network has already mentioned, even though the situation in male' is going from bad to worse, this doesnt really help the overall problem. Would be better if the Government can push to pass a decent evidence bill, the new penal code, and ensure that the state has a good penitentiary and rehabilitation facilities.

  6. This is once again to do with Maldivian judges being utterly dumb and incompetent. These judges think they do not have the right to form their own judgement on someone who refuse to explain to a police officer at 3.00AM why they are carrying a 12 inch knife concealed in their clothing. A Maldivian judge WILL say "You did not say anything to the police and that is your right. No evidence found against you and you can go home". If they saw these people same as a common person with common sense, then a law specifying every eventuality of life will not be needed.

  7. 1.Make any gathering of more than 3 people unlawful
    2. Take away right to an attorney
    3. Take away bail
    4. Take away innocent until proven guilty
    5.take away freedom of speech , it harms the unity of the country
    5.Give me death, This democratic country is getting buried before it speaks.


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