Parliament approves law banning gang membership

The parliament last week approved legislation intended to clamp down on gang violence and gang related crime, and sent it to the President for ratification.

The Maldives Police Service has  complained on several occasions that violent criminals are released into society because of missing laws on gang violence, and urged MPs to approve the bill.

The law enacted by parliament states says that any person who “unites himself” to a gang formed with the intention to commit unlawful crimes, shall serve on to five  years imprisonment.

The approved bill defines a gang as “a group which consists of more than three persons where the main objective is to commit crimes”.

According to the new law, any person identified as the leader of such a gang shall be imprisoned for two to seven years.

By a word a person says or by an act a person commits, or by any means if a person represents that he is a gang member, is now a crime according to the law and punishable with imprisonment for between six to 18 months.

Aiding or supplying a gang is also a crime under the law, with prison sentences up to seven years and fines of up to Rf500,000 (US$39,000).

Furthermore, any person who threatens a witness shall be imprisoned for six to 18 months, and any person who attacks a witness or is the cause of an attack on a witness shall be imprisoned for between three to seven years.

The law also states that planning to assault anybody is now a crime with a sentence of between six to 18 months jail, while actually assault is a sentence of between six to 12 years in jail.

Meanwhile, gang violence continues Male’ with an 18 year-old in intensive care are he was stabbed at 11:45pm last night.

A 16-year-old boy was also stabbed on Thursday night.

The gang crimes bill, submitted in August last year, effectively criminalises gang activities by banning membership and recruiting, and criminalising financial support. It will now be a crime to take over a street corner or paint logos of your gang, while the recently ratified anti-social behaviour bill imposes a curfew of 11:00pm on minors while children under 16 cannot go out without a guardian after 9:00pm.

Police meanwhile insist that their operations are futile as long as sentences remain unenforced.

Following the murder of an 18-year-old in March 2009, the sixth gang-related murder in the capital since December 2007, Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh revealed that “over 500 convicts” were loose in society.

The army had to be deployed in Male’ in April 2008 after 15-year-old Shifau Ismail was killed. Another minor, Ahmed Shaneed, 15, was stabbed to death on the eve of the second round of presidential elections in October 2008.

In December 2008, Samir Abdul Mueen, 23, died after being stabbed multiple times by a group of assailants on motorbikes.

Faseeh argued that the system created repeat offenders when the majority of cases sent for prosecution did not result in convictions.

A young boy first arrested for stealing a bottle of Denim went on to become involved in the biggest case of theft in the capital while his previous cases were pending at the PG’s office, Faseeh revealed.

Another suspect involved in multiple cases of gang violence was arrested for assaulting a police officer, while six cases sent to the PG’s office had not reached court, Faseeh added.


15 thoughts on “Parliament approves law banning gang membership”

  1. i wounder which jail the government(DPRS) is going to imprison all these people. government has moved 100's of inmates to so called house arrest. which has increased stabbing incident in Male'.

    I guess government has a planed this, as a fact they let the inmates burn down the prison twice and no one was accountable for the million of loss suffered.

    laws can be made, verdicts can be heard, but its the government who enforce it. two days back an innocent 16 year old who is physically disable from birth(legs and hand) was stabbed and he is in ICU. what was his mistake?

    President Nasheed should be taking firm decision on this violent criminals as he is taking for some politicians arbitrary arrest as the commander in chief as well the head of Police.

    i hope this will be viewed under freedom of expression.

  2. Congratulation! I wish MPs would stop fighting over petty issues and continue to work together.

  3. Laws mean nothing when there is no political will to stop gang violence. President Nasheed would travel to the ends of the world to get awards, he will do whatever it takes to get his cabinet approved or sign deals with foreign companies. He is ready to plunge the country into total chaos, arrest his opponents and try take over the judiciary to acheive what he wants but when it comes to gang violence there seems to be nothing that can be done.

  4. now this is the outcome when everyone works together... results!!!

    hopefully there wont be any loopholes and help police to minimize the gang activities

    cheers for everyone who helped pass the bill

  5. Why minivannews is not stating the deaths happened recently. and why the hell CP Fasseh is saying 500 criminals are loose in society. they are not loose they are been transferred to house from the prison. like the terrorist pardon or minimized the sentence by president who injured 2 Britons and 8 Chines by an IED in sultan park September 2007. one of the terrorist tried to escape from the jail 3 times. i think this is an indication Naseed government do not respect the victims grievance as this had happen incident happened in Gayooms time. hope this get viewed. i know minivannews is pro Nasheed.

  6. How is 'gang' defined in the this law.
    Could the definition be extended to include DRP. and MDP too?

  7. Ooh, the loopholes in this new bill is like holes in swiss cheese.

    Not that it's going to stop anyone. As long as there is injustice, gangs will form. As long as social hypocrisy and corruption is promoted, hard drugs will be abused.

  8. It is not the lack of political will on the part of our President that has created the situation we have today. It is the deliberate actions of a group of people who just have not been able to accept the leadership of someone other than their own.

    It is the courts and the judges who have been setting these criminals free, not President Nasheed. In the majority of the cases we have heard that they claim lack of evidence as the main reason for these cases to be thrown out of court and the courts have been blaming the Prosecutor General’s office, and lack of legislature for their actions.

    The Majlis seems to have the time to engage in high drama wasting our time and money, but not the time to investigate why the Prosecutor General’s office is being this slack in the preparation of its cases.

    That the Majlis took over a year to act on the laws that President Nasheed sent to the parliament revising the Penal Code, and the many months it has taken to act on the anti social behaviour and gang activity bill is a disgrace to our nation. How can these people claim they represent us the people and block the laws that are critical to our safety?

    We elected the majlis to look after our interests, not the interests of a particular family or group of people. Yet what we see in Majlis is a bunch of people sitting tight, protecting their ill gotten gains and doing whatever they can to destabilise our nation and terrorise our people. How does the DRPPA justify not acting on the issues that directly affect us the people?

  9. All around the world Police requires clear evidence upon which to base an arrest. Police cannot arbitrarily arrest people without there being a basis for the arrest and a warrant issued by a Court. Obviously when the Courts feel there was enough grounds for an arrest… but this law will give Maldivian police the power to abuse our constitutional rights in the name of gang violence plus the highly incompetent high ranking police officers, can we trust the guys who arrested a car without any person after months of surveillance? Since arbitrary arrests based on hearsay or speculation call into question the credibility of the entire legal system … Probably the Maldivian police is trying to distract attention from there terrible performance in drugs and violence dispite spending millions….. It will be interesting to see what happens next… could be the basis of a new TV Show ….

  10. let me ask you this:
    does the gang leader or member change by 18 months or even after 7 years?
    if the same beast is going to be released after 7 years, whats the point?

    laws and imprisonment does not solve the problems that lead to crimes. but we don't have time to study and look for rational solutions. a social order is needed and it needs to be quick.. i highly doubt the new laws would make any change though!

  11. The existence of legislation would make it easier for the judiciary to work. It really is unacceptable that our elected representatives have taken this long to get bills of crucial importance through while they and other politicians play their games and engage in rhetoric. (The critical economic bills also still remain unfinished. Without these, the state will not have the resources to undertake even the activities that were approved in this year's budget, because the expenditures were dependent on proposed revenues in the form of taxes, for which the Majlis has yet to pass legislation. And now they sit around trying to hold the executive accountable.)

    I too believe that as long as social hypocrisy and corruption is promoted, drugs will be abused, and made easily available. As long as injustice is prevalent, crime will abound, as long as rehabilitation and reintegration is not taken seriously, felonies will be repeated. While I do not attribute all of it to social factors, I believe that high incidence of substance abuse, fundamentalism and violent crime are in large part, the result of having to live desperate lives. Humans are by nature not evil, children are not born nasty. Society and circumstances creates them into what they are, and our society as a whole, every single one of us, is responsible for what we see today.

    We have created institutions to bring about a just balance to our society, but if they (or rather, the majority of the people that are engaged in these institutions) do not fulfil their purpose, how can justice, peace or social order prevail? Having said that, we all need to take individual responsibility for working towards the collective good, if for no other reason than because at the end of the day, we as individuals have to face the consequences of a society gone wrong due to individual negligence. We now know beyond doubt, that the 'Do as I say, not as I do' model does not work. Every action, every word we speak is an individual choice, which to me means that we can each consciously choose to be that change that we want to see in our children, in our society. The past does not need to be the future if we choose not to let it.

  12. we the general public should have list of gang members .. police should present those informations on gangs and gang members .. or else the police might arrest us even if talk to a gang member .. how do we the public knows if he's from gang or not .. and the most of recreational clubs are the youths and this bills refers them as gang

  13. SS, you have summed it up. Very well said.

    We have seen in the last two years that changing the President has not been enough to bring the transformation we wanted. We need the Majlis and the Judiciary to work for our people. However this is not what we see. We see 'representatives of the people" sit in parliament blocking the economic social reforms critical to the transformation of our society. And we see our judges setting free criminals terrorising our nation.

    The position President Nasheed finds himself is by no means exclusive to the Maldives. If you recall, Bill Clinton found himself in a similar position in his first term with a Republic controlled House blocking bill after bill which slowed down his pledges to his people.

    I see no way forward really, given the domination of the DRPPA and their clones in Majlis (Gasim, DQP, our so called "Independents" in Majlis. Even as our hospitals, schools and other institutions serving our people struggle for resources and the staff for better pay, our Honourable members continue to ignore the economic bills critical to the delivery of the pledges of this government to the people.

    How does this Majlis then call itself the House of Representatives? Who are these people representing? Isn't it time we asked our representatives this question?

    We can choose to become resigned and cynical and allow the Majlis to carry on like this for another 3 years, and then say President Nasheed failed to deliver.

    But is it Nasheed who is failing? I believe it is we the people who are failing. We are not standing for our rights. We are not holding the representatives we elected to Majlis accountable for their sabotage of the reforms we need. We are not calling for the resignation of the officials involved who are setting our criminals free. We are not calling for our representatives in Majlis to resign for betraying our trust and our hopes.

    I believe that unless we wake up and we commit ourselves to do whatever we have to do, we will not be able to ever , ever transcend to the promised Anneh Dhivehi Raajeh. We need to bring our strength, collectively and individually to our courageous civil rights leaders who have stepped outside the box and their comfort zone to speak for us. It’s time for us to find our own voices, to make the people we pay to work for us accountable. If we are to have any hope of the MDP Manifesto becoming a reality we need our movement, which ousted Gayoom to continue, to be strengthened and supported. This is not the time to walk away. The real work of reconstruction, transformation is just beginning.


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