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Parliament passes Presidential Commission Bill

Ahmed Aiham
19 June 2019, MVT 21:04
A parliamentary sitting in progress. PHOTO: MIHAARU
Ahmed Aiham
19 June 2019, MVT 21:04

The Parliament on Wednesday unanimously voted in favour of the Presidential Commissions Bill.

A total of 67 parliamentarians approved the bill, with amendments from the Judicial Committee.

The sole bodies defined as investigative authorities under the Criminal Procedure Act of 2017, are granted the right to investigate criminal offences and forward cases to the Prosecutor General's Office.

As per the amendments, the Presidential Commissions are now classified 'Law Enforcement Authorities', allowing the commissions to make arrests and summons for investigation. Prior to the changes, the commissions were given the status of 'Investigative Authorities".

Following the conclusion of its investigations, the commissions, upon advice of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, may officially file the matter to the Attorney General's Office or the Prosecutor General's Office.

Once ratified by the president, the bill will empower the independent commissions to make formal accusations against those responsible for corruption and murder cases.

Proposed by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)'s Parliament Member Mohamed Rasheed, the bill seeks to provide authority to the two inquiry commissions created by President Solih to fulfill key electoral pledges concerning the recovery of missing state funds, as well as uncover the true circumstances surrounding two high-profile murders and the abduction of one journalist.

The policy caused tensions to flare in parliament, with ruling coalitions' Jumhooree Party (JP) allegedly "sabotaging" the vote prior to Maldivian Democratic Party's landslide victory during the 19th Parliamentary Election.

The families of murdered satirist blogger Yameen Rasheed and abducted journalist Ahmed Rilwan had previously urged the newly elected parliament to endorse the commissions' bill.

A vote on the bill was scheduled thrice during the previous parliament but failed to gain traction. The families stated that failure to pass the bill was stark evidence of political interference.

During the initial hearings of the bill, Parliament’s Counselor General Fathmath Filza said the bill impeded the authority of the Maldives Police Service and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

Only bodies defined as investigative authorities under the Criminal Procedure Code of 2017 are granted the right to investigate criminal offences and forward cases to the Prosecutor General's Office.

At present, the Commission on Investigation of Murders and Enforced Disappearances conducts its investigations in co-operation with the Police.

However, the commission's president Husnu al-Suood previously stated that procedural difficulties had caused delays.

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