Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Easa has withdrawn a bill reducing the penalty for refusal to provide urine from a one year jail term to 15 days in jail.
Easa proposed the amendment to the Drugs Act after the Criminal Court sought to prosecute MDP MPs Abdulla Jabir and Hamid Abdul Ghafoor for refusal to provide urine when they were arrested on Hondaidhoo Island in August 2012.
If convicted with a one-year jail term, the two MPs may lose their parliamentary seats.
At the time, the MDP accused the judiciary of “purging” MDP MPs from parliament in order to influence the party’s simple majority in parliament ahead of several no-confidence motions against ministers of former President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan.
Easa said he had withdrawn the bill due to criticism from his own party and because he believes the police will be more professional with the election of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.
The Criminal Court’s Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed has sentenced Hamid to six months in jail for disobedience to order after he refused to obey court summons to attend a refusal to provide urine trial.
Hamid contends the court summons were issued in violation of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act which prohibits the judiciary from scheduling hearings during Majlis work hours.
Hamid had sought refuse inside the People’s Majlis when the six month jail term was issued. The MDP then amended the parliament’s standing orders to allow an MP convicted of criminal acts to continue to attend Majlis sittings.
The Home Ministry transferred Hamid to house arrest in mid November and Hamid has now left the parliament after four weeks.
New Home Minister Umar Naseer has said enforcing Hamid’s jail sentence would be difficult as the Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Department (DPRS) does not have the facilities to transport Hamid back and forth from Maafushi Island jail to Malé.
“We have to arrange a speed boat to bring him to every single session if he is kept in a jail outside Malé. We may have to bring him two or three times a day,” he told local newspaper Haveeru.
Furthermore, Naseer explained that incarcerating Hamid in the Malé City jail was not an option because the jail was at full capacity.