‘Words and weapons’ bill presented to parliament

A bill banning threats, use of sharp objects and weapons was been presented by the government to the parliament yesterday, in a bid to reduce violent crime on the streets of Male’.

If the bill is passed, threatening a person will become a crime and will result in a 2-12 months sentence. If someone uses a sharp object or dangerous weapon in a threatening manner, there would be an additional 1-6 months sentence.

The bill says that using or storing a sharp object or dangerous weapon in public is also a crime, which will receive a 2-12 months sentence. Furthermore, importing butterfly knives and flick knives without the permission from the Home Ministry would also become a crime, and receive a 1-3 month sentence.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed introduced the bill to the MPs, which was forwarded to debate through the support of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Ali Waheed.

Spokesperson for MDP parliamentary group MP Ahmed Shifaz said that the bill was mainly focused on reducing gang fighting to make the society “a peaceful and safe place.”

”Right now police cannot arrest somebody walking around with a knife in their hand,” Shifaz said. ”But after this bill is passed, people will  not be allowed to use sharp objects and weapons in public.”

He said anything that could be used to injure a person would be designated as a weapon, including logs and batons.

‘Threatening a person with weapons or words would also be a crime under the bill,” he said, ”and even if a police officer threatens a person, that officer can be charged.”

He said the bill would help to reduce crime rate in the country.

DRP MP Abdulla Mausoom said it was very difficult to comment on the bill as it was still in the debate stage.

”Everyone wants to stop crime in the country,” Mausoom said. ”The crime rate has risen in the capital Male’ and big islands of the country.”

Mausoom said anybody who used ‘weapons’ should not be arrested, as they were used for many purposes.

”For instance, people living in the islands – in the early morning they are out working with their axes, knives and other sharp objects,” he said.

He said the most effective solution for rising crime was to have community participation.

Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair said the bill would help to avoid crimes in many ways.

”The bill will provide a wide range of powers to police to remove the offender,” Zuhair said.

Zuhair said everyone with a knife would not be deemed a criminal, but ”all criminals are now armed with a knife.”

He said the bill was rather an effective ban on threatening a person’s well being.