Drug testing to resume after almost two years

An independent laboratory will begin drug testing this month on urine samples provided by police, reports Haveeru.

Under the landmark Drug Act enacted in January 2012, the National Drug Agency (NDA) was required to assign a private laboratory to conduct testing before June 2013.

The prosecutor general’s office subsequently ceased filing drug abuse cases in court, apart from cases in which suspects confessed. It is unclear whether suspects in the remaining cases will now face charges.

NDA CEO Ahmed Muneer said on Sunday that Med-Lab Diagnostic Centre has been contracted to conduct drug testing for a period of five years.

In November, the drug agency called for a third time for private parties to apply to conduct the drugs tests.

The NGA is the designated lead agency dealing with all issues related to drug prevention, harm reduction and treatment.


Police seek private party to conduct drug tests

Police are seeking an independent private party to conduct drug testing on urine samples taken from suspects.

An announcement by the National Drug Agency (NDA) explained that the Drug Act requires urine samples to be divided into two and for the second sample to be tested in a private laboratory.

The independent laboratory would be contracted for a five-year period.

The drug law stipulates that the private party would be assigned in accordance with regulations enacted by the NDA.

According to the NDA, the announcement seeking a private party is being made for a third time after no interested parties came forward following the first two announcements.

Under the landmark Drug Act, the NDA was designated the lead agency dealing with all issues related to drug prevention, harm reduction, and treatment.


Commissioner of police submits to drug testing

Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed submitted to drug testing by the police professional standards command last week.

According to police media, Waheed was not aware that he would be asked to provide a urine sample when he was “summoned” to the professional standards command on Wednesday night (July 16).

The test “proved that Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed is not a drug user.”

In March 2013, former Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz set up a special department to randomly test police officers for drug and alcohol use.

Riyaz issued an order to conduct drug testing on eight police officers picked at random each month.

Police revealed last week that 167 police officers have been tested so far.

The move followed allegations by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party that riot police officers at the party’s demonstrations following the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012 were intoxicated.


MP Hamid calls for Majlis intervention to overturn Criminal Court sentence

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Hamid Abdul Gafoor has called on Members of Parliament to intervene in a High Court appeal to overturn a Criminal Court six month jail term issued in absentia.

Criminal Court Chief Justice Abdulla Mohamed handed Hamid a six month sentence for disobedience to order after the MP refused to attend a separate trial over refusal to provide urine.

Hamid contends the Criminal Court’ summons were unlawful as hearings for the urine trial were scheduled during Majlis work hours in violation of the Parliamentary Privileges and Powers Act. He then sought refuge inside the Parliament House when the Criminal Court ordered the police to arrest him and present him at court.

“The Criminal Court first issued court summons in contravention to the Parliamentary Privileges Act and then sentenced me in absentia for making use of my parliamentary privileges,” Hamid said.

Hamid filed an appeal at the High Court to overturn the Criminal Court’s sentence but the case was dismissed today when Hamid’s lawyers failed to attend the hearing over an administrative error. Lawyers will resubmit the case tomorrow, he said.

Claiming the Criminal Court sentence endangers all MPs, Hamid said: “I call on all Members of Parliament to intervene in this case. This is not about refusal to provide urine. This sentence has clearly violated parliamentary privileges.”

Today is Hamid’s 28th day inside the Parliament House.

In a letter to the Speaker Abdulla Shahid, Prosecutor General Ahmed Muizz said Judge Abdulla has acted against the norms in Hamid’s case.

Hence, People’s Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid has written to Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz to overturn the sentence contending the ruling violates the privileges afforded to MPs in the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act.

MP Riyaz Rasheed raised a point of order during today’s Majlis sitting to debate the state budget over Hamid’s “unlawful” presence in the Majlis.

In response, Shahid said he has asked the Chief Justice to advise him on the issue and stated: “As the Majlis Speaker I must uphold the laws you, honorable MPs, have passed when rulings against an MP is issued in violation of the privileges afforded to an MP in the Parliamentary Privileges Act and when such rulings are being implemented.”

Hamid has said the Criminal Court was on a “personalized hunt” for him and added: “I believe the objective of these show trials with manufactured narratives of drinking is a smear campaign targeted at reducing the number of my party Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs.”

The Inter Parliamentary Union has expressed concern over “the frequent intimidation, harassment and attack of MPs as they go about their work.”

A total of eight MDP MPs currently face criminal charges whilst MDP MP Ali Azim and MDP aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Mohamed Nashiz were disqualified from their seats by the Supreme Court in a controversial ruling over decreed debt in October.


Criminal Court sentences MP Hamid to six months for non-compliance with court summons

The Criminal Court has sentenced Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor for not complying with the court summons in a case where he was charged for refusing to provide a urine sample to police.

Criminal Court Spokesperson Ahmed Mohamed Manik today confirmed that the court has sentenced Hamid to six months in prison.

“He was sentenced for not complying with the court orders,’’ he said. ‘”The other case where he is charged for not giving the urine sample will continue.’’

Hamid’s lawyer and former deputy prosecutor general Hussein Shameem today told Minivan News that he had not officially received information about the court verdict but that he had heard it through the media.

‘’In the past eight years no one was sentenced to six months in a case where a person failed to comply with court summons,’’ he said.

Shameem said that normally the court sentences for not complying with court summons were a fine of MVR75 or a four month jail sentence.

He said that he will decide on appealing the case after he gets the court verdict officially.

According to Shameem, the court could sentence Hamid to an additional one year if it finds him guilty of the original case where he was charged for denying a urine sample to police.

Meanwhile, Hamid has issued a statement on the MDP’s website saying that he was not provided with an official requisition form as is required under article 7 of regulations on procuring, transferring, and testing urine samples and that he was not instructed to provide a urine sample as per regulations.

‘”At the hearing of the case held on 9 October 2013, the prosecution (state) lawyer had repeatedly failed to respond to my lawyer’s query whether I was instructed to provide a urine sample through an official requisition form as per regulations,’’ Hamid said in the statement.

“Therefore, this is an irrelevant and unsubstantiated case of political predation by the Maldives Police Service, the Office of the Prosecutor General and the Criminal Court, in direct contravention and disregard to official procedures and laws.’’

He said that he had been attending the court according to the summons until 23 October, when there had been a parliament sitting scheduled meaning he was unable to attend, sending a letter to the court informing it of such.

Hamid said that the court did not respond to his letter.

Majlis refuge

Parliament yesterday brought an amendment to its regulations, allowing MPs to attend parliamentary sittings and voting even if they are convicted of a criminal offence.

A total of 10 people were taken into police custody on November 16 after police raided and searched Hondaidhoo with a court warrant. Officers alleged they found large amounts of suspected drugs and alcohol upon searching the island.

In August this year Criminal Court Media Official Ahmed Mohamed Manik told Minivan News that the PG had charged MDP MPs Abdulla Jabir and Hamed with smuggling alcohol into the country and consuming alcohol.

Jabir and Ghafoor were also both charged with objecting to urine testing and possession of cannabis.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair and his wife Mariyam Faiza were also charged for objecting to take a urine test, said Manik.

Additionally, the son of former President Nasheed’s Special Envoy, Mohamed Hamdhoon Zaki,  has been charged for trafficking illegal drugs into the country – the penalty for which is 25 years and can be fined up to MVR10million.

On 24 October, the Criminal Court issued a warrant to arrest and summon Hamid to the court, but the MP took refuge in the parliament building on the same day meaning police were unable to arrest him.

Article 11 of the Parliamentary Privileges Act states that an MP cannot be summoned to court when Majlis sittings or parliamentary committee hearings are scheduled.

The parliament has also scheduled a no-confidence motion against Prosecutor General [PG] Ahmed Muiz for being biased and also for not fulfilling his legal duties in taking action against police and military officers who violated the law on February 6 and 7, 2012, after the Commission of National Inquiry’s (CoNI) report found that officers had violated the laws.

The issue has been now scheduled to next Monday after the PG told the parliament that he needed more time to respond to the no-confidence motion.


Criminal Court warns MP Ghafoor of trial in absentia

The Criminal Court has warned Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor that it will try him absentia if he fails to attend a court hearing scheduled for 1:30pm on Thursday.

Ghafoor took refuge inside the People’s Majlis on Thursday (October 24) following several police attempts to arrest him and present him at the Criminal Court. He is being tried for refusal to provide a urine sample – an offense that carries a one year jail sentence and could disqualify him from his parliamentary seat.

“The Criminal Court orders Hamid Abdul Gafoor of H. Shady Corner, Malé to attend court at 13:00 on 31 October 2013. If Hamid Abdul Gafoor is not present at the court at the specified date and time, we inform him we will continue with and conclude the above trial in absentia as per Article 30 (a) of the Regulations on court summons,” a statement issued by the Criminal Court today said.

Criminal Court Chief Justice Abdulla Mohamed is presiding over the case.

Ghafoor has accused the criminal court of a “politically motivated personal hunt” to influence the MDP and its ally Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party’s simple majority in parliament. Ghafoor is also being tried separately for possession of alcohol.

The MP has pleaded innocent at the two hearings that have taken place so far. A third hearing was scheduled for October 23 at 9:00 am. But Ghafoor’s lawyers told the Criminal Court a day in advance that the MP could not attend due to a parliamentary proceedings scheduled at the time.

Article 11 of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act sates that an MP cannot be summoned to court during Majlis sittings or parliamentary committee hearings.

However, the Criminal Court did not respond to the letter. Instead, it scheduled a new hearing for 1:00pm on October 24 and issued a court warrant ordering police to arrest Ghafoor and present him at court. The MP took refuge inside the Majlis and has not left parliament premises since.

The Criminal Court scheduled a second hearing on Monday October 28 at 9:00am and issued new arrest warrant. The police wrote to Speaker Abdulla Shahid to turn Ghafoor over, but Shahid cited Article 11 of the Parliamentary Privileges and Powers Act and said Ghafoor could not be summoned to court during Majlis hours.

Speaker obliged to protect MPs, says Majlis

Ghafoor’s lawyer Hussein Shameem said his client would appeal the Criminal Court’s “unlawful” arrest warrants at the High Court, saying that the Criminal Court had not followed due process.

Shameem also argued the state had no grounds to prosecute Ghafoor as there was no legal evidence of the police having requested a urine sample. According to the Drug Act, the police are to ask for a urine sample in writing and obtain a signature from the accused if they refuse to provide a sample, he claimed.

Shameem has written to Prosecutor General (PG) Ahmed Muizz to review the case due to “procedural issues” and to carry out the PG’s duty to uphold the constitutional order and the law as per Article 223 of the constitution by taking action against the courts for issuing unlawful summons.

Ghafoor told Minivan News on Sunday that he was willing to stay inside the Majlis premises “until the judiciary is destroyed.”

“Now I know how helpless ordinary citizens are. I feel like I’m being hunted by a corrupt judiciary. You don’t feel good when you are being singled out. You feel like prey. You can never relax,” Ghafoor said.

The MDP has condemned the judiciary’s attempts to “purge” its MPs. On Thursday (October 24), the Supreme Court, in a controversial ruling, stripped MDP MP Ali Azim and DRP MP Mohamed Nashiz of their parliamentary seats over decreed debt.

Eight other MDP MPs are currently being investigated for contempt of court and disobedience to order. MP Abdulla Jabir is also being tried for refusal to provide a urine sample and possession of alcohol.

Meanwhile, former Attorney General Azima Shakoor has criticized Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid for allegedly helping MPs evade courts by harboring those who had committed criminal acts inside the Majlis building. Azima was voted out of office in a no confidence motion on Tuesday.

A Majlis secretariat statement has refuted the allegations, arguing that the speaker is constitutionally obliged to protect MPs.

“The People’s Majlis Speaker assures all the citizens he will uphold the rights and privileges enshrined in the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act for all Members of Parliament without any political bias,” it said.

The Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) has expressed alarm over the prosecution of MPs and is to send an urgent IPU delegation to the Maldives.

“I propose that an IPU delegation returns urgently to the Maldives to discuss and agree with the relevant authorities and stakeholders effective steps to ensure that the parliament can fully discharge its legislative and oversight functions freely and independently and that its members can do their work unhindered, without fear of intimidation and harassment or attack on their physical integrity,” said the Secretary General Anders B. Johnsson.

MDP MP Ahmed Easa has submitted an amendment to the Drug Act to reduce the jail time for refusal to provide a urine sample from one year to 15 days. Easa said the specific article in the Drug Act was being used unfairly for politically motivated reasons.

Speaking to local media, the National Drug Agency’s CEO Ahmed Shahid spoke against the amendment, claiming that reducing the sentence for refusal to provide urine would obstruct identifying drug abusers and providing treatment for drug abuse.


Man sentenced to one year imprisonment for refusing urine sample

The Criminal Court on Sunday sentenced a man to one year imprisonment for refusing to submit a urine sample to police.

The verdict marks the first time a person was convicted for the offence since the new drug law came into force on December 31, 2011.

Ali Abdulla, of Hulhumale’ flat 10g 4, was arrested in a drug-related case on May 14 and refused to submit a urine sample to police.

He was sentenced under article 123(b) of the Drug Act (Dhivehi), which states that refusing to submit a urine sample when arrested on drug-related charges is a crime punishable by a one year jail term.

Following a police special operation in November that saw two MPs arrested from an uninhabited island in Haa Dhaal atoll on suspicion of drug use and alcohol consumption, police said individuals who refused to undergo a urine examination could face prosecution.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP for Kaashidhoo Abdullah Jabir and MP for Henveiru-South Haamid Abdul Ghafoor, former President Nasheed’s Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair, his wife Mariyam Faiza, and former President Nasheed’s Chief Advisor Ibrahim Hussain Zaki, allegedly refused to cooperate with police in the urine testing procedure.

Meanwhile, police sent cases of two individuals aged 23 and 39 who refused to provide urine samples to the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) in December.