Attorney General Mohamed Anil has today submitted to parliament a number of amendments to the act prohibiting carrying and threatening use of sharp weapons.
Speaking at a press conference held by the cabinet’s Social Council, Anil revealed that amendments included the narrowing of certain rights that the accused currently have.
Among these, the right to remain silent and the right to consult with legal representatives will be narrowed, while police will be given the right to hold suspects in custody for purposes of community safety until the court considers the case.
The proposed changes comes as the number of stabbing incidents in the country continues at an alarming rate, with 18-year old Ibrahim Shifaaz last week becoming the latest in a list of incidents that have resulted in three deaths this year.
Anil explained that the present law only stipulates penalties for the carrying of sharp weapons and for threatening individuals with the use of sharp weapons.
“Both the home minister and we at the AG office find it to be very concerning that the law does not describe penalties for damages caused by such actions, such as the taking of a life, loss of a limb, or other physical harm to the victims,” Anil stated.
“Currently, these crimes are tried under the existing old Penal Code, which has in it far too lenient penalties. Thus, the proposed amendments will include new penalties that can be given to perpetrators for commission of such an act.”
He described the newly proposed penalties as including 7 to 15 year jail sentences and even the death penalty, depending on the seriousness of the crime.
Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer prompted international concern when calling for an end to the country’s 60 year moratorium on the death penalty earlier this year, completing the required regulatory changes in April.
The new amendments also stipulate that crimes falling under this act should be investigated within 15 days of arrest, while the Criminal Court must complete the case within 30 days from its submission.
Anil also announced that three additional bills have been submitted to parliament. These are the goods and services tax bill, the construction bill, and the mutual legal assistance bill.
Earlier on October 15, Umar Naseer conducted meetings with pro-government parliamentarians about amendments to these same laws.
“Reactions from parliamentarians of both Jumhooree Party and Progressive Party of Maldives were positive to my recommendations,” Naseer said at the time.
At today’s press conference, Naseer also revealed that the government has plans to commence a MVR4 million (US$260,000) project to further develop the security of the prisons in the coming week following the recent escape of two convicted murderers last weekend – both since apprehended.