Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed has claimed that Home Minister Mohamed Jameel’s failure to give a professional opinion on the pending Evidence Bill is the reason for the bill’s delay.
The remark by the Nolhivaram constituency MP comes at a time where both the Home Minister and Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz have expressed concern over parliament’s delaying of the essential bill.
During a debate in parliament last Wednesday, MP Nasheed claimed that the committee currently reviewing the bill had on numerous occasions requested a professional opinion from the Home Minister.
“We were forced to park the bill because [Jameel] could not spare us time. We are waiting for an opinion from him. Therefore, before opening his mouth to condemn parliament, he must look back at his own actions,” said MP Nasheed.
He contended that along with the evidence bill, other pivotal bills such as the criminal procedure code require professional opinions from the attorney general, the Supreme Court and other members of the judiciary, as well as the police and Home Ministry.
“They are not able to give time for any of this. Kulhudhufushi-South Constituency MP Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed has neatly carried out parliament’s end of the bargain. He initiated the drafting and other relevant work required from parliament. But, we have to face the truth that [the delay] is due to the Home Minister’s failure to give us his time,” he said.
“We have given time for him on four different occasions, but every time for some reason he calls us and cancels the appointment in the nick of time. How can the evidence bill be passed?” Nasheed questioned.
He reiterated that even though the country was run under a presidential system with separated powers of state, it does not mean that two of those powers could not collaborate in running the affairs of the state.
Police Commissioner’s concerns
Meanwhile, Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz has said it was of utmost importance that a mechanism be set which would speed up the process of obtaining witness statements before the witness is “influenced”.
In a video released on the police website following the Criminal Court’s acquittal of six suspects arrested in connection with the stabbing murder of Ali Shifan, Commissioner Riyaz stated that many people are afraid to give witness to the courts because of threats they face afterwards.
“In several countries, there are mechanisms to protect witnesses. That can only be achieved through legislation. According to our information, a draft witness protection act is currently submitted to the parliament,” he said.
He said such key bills should become law as soon as possible in order for police to continue curbing criminal activities.
“Laws should be made in such a fashion that they guarantee the safety and protection of the people. Importance should be given to that. We hope that the necessary bills are passed as soon as possible which will remove a lot of barriers we are currently facing. It would be a huge assistance,” he said.
The commissioner of police added that it was important to know the extent to which the court would go to accept circumstantial evidences and forensic evidences such as DNA.
He stressed that the constitution clearly mentioned that investigations be carried on the basis of evidence collected, but said there was no evidence act currently in place.
“DNA is one of the most authentic forms of evidence. Another is the fingerprint. Similarly, video evidence id very authentic too. We are talking about the fact that there is no legislation that dictates as to how such evidences will be accepted by the court.”
Following claims that the initial evidence bill proposed in 2009 “made no sense at all”, a new draft of the bill was proposed to Parliament’s Independent Institutions Oversight Committee on October 2012.
The bill was drafted by former Minister of Legal Reform during President Gayoom’s presidency, the current MP for Kulhudhuffushi- South, MP Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed.
Home Minister Jameel was not responding to calls at time of press.