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Maldives to criminalise withholding information about terrorism

Shahudha Mohamed
15 September 2019, MVT 11:07
A street blocked off by Maldives Police Service to preserve a crime scene for their investigations and to conduct their inquiries. Amendments to Prevention of Terrorism Act were submitted to the parliament proposing the government to criminalise withholding information about acts of terrorism. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED/MIHAARU
Shahudha Mohamed
15 September 2019, MVT 11:07

The government proposed an amendment to the Prevention of Terrorism Act, criminalising the act of withholding information about acts of terrorism from intelligence authorities.

The bill was sponsored by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)'s Henveiru Dhekunu MP and Parliamentary Group's Deputy Leader Hussain Shaheem, to dissuade authorities from pressing false terrorism charges and alter areas of the criminal justice system related to terrorism.

Any individual that is aware of information about a terrorist attack and withholds details from Maldives Police Service on purpose despite having a chance to report, will face jail time of three to five years, as per the proposed amendment.

The bill declares that information must be shared with Police, who will then share it with relevant intelligence authorities, listed in the bill as Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), Maldives Customs Services, Maldives Immmigration and Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA)'s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).

According to the amendment, if an individual withholding information about a terror act resulted in loss of life, said individual would serve five to seven years in prison.

Similarly, if someone suffered a serious injury, the individual who withheld information would be imprisoned for three to five years.

The bill also details the punishment in case of damages to goods and property due to an act of terrorism.

The bill states that, if the damages cost between MVR 50,000 to MVR 100,000, the criminal would be incarcerated for a period of one year and six months.

The jail term increases with the increasing cost in damage, where the culprit will serve one to two years for damages worth MVR 100,000 to MVR 500,000 and serve three to five years if the cost of damages are over MVR 500,000.

In addition to criminalising the act of withholding information about terror acts, the bill aims to re-establish the criminal justice system, amend legal procedures accordingly and modify the powers granted to the Prosecutor General (PG) and the judiciary.

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