Parliament yesterday rejected amendments presented by Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Ahmed Mahlouf narrowing some of the rights guaranteed in the constitution, as well as extending the Gang Violence Act to encompass all persons charged with criminal offences.
Out of the 52 MPs present only 15 MPs voted in favor of the amendment, while 34 of them voted to dismiss the amendment proposed to Gang Violence Act.
Under the amendment, persons charged with criminal offences stated in the Gang Violence Act do not have the right to remain silent and the right not to be detained during investigation.
The amendment assumes that any person charged with offences mentioned in the Act should be considered a person who will attempt to influence witnesses and is therefore a danger to the public.
Mahlouf said that the objective of the amendment was to prevent criminals from being left at large during the time their verdicts should be implemented, and said it would pave way for the judges to easily convict persons charged with offences related to gang violence.
Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Parliamentary Group Leader and MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, speaking in the parliament session during the preliminary debate, said he supported the amendment.
Moosa said that judges attended parliament’s 241 (national security) committee to discuss gang violence and were told that judges did not have an adequate level of security because each did not have a car and house in Male’.
Independent MP Mohamed Nasheed, former legal reform minister, noted that the whole amendment was based on withdrawing the right to remain silent, an article of the contentious ‘Sunset Bill’ that would greatly boost police powers for a limited period and remains before parliament.
Parliament also rejected an amendment presented by Mahlouf to the Child Act , which would lower the legal age to 15 years.
Meanwhile, parliament has added to tomorrow’s agenda a request by the MDP to dismiss Judicial Service Commission (JSC) member Dr Afrasheem Ali.