The Child Rights Protection Bill came into effect at 0000 hrs on February 20.
The date complies with provisions within the bill which stipulate that the legislation must be implemented three months following ratification and publication in the state gazette.
Unanimously approved on November 14 by the 66 MPs in attendance, the bill strongly prohibits inhumane actions against children in homes, education centres or an institution where children are kept. It outlines the duties of the state, community and parents to protect children's rights.
The Act also seeks to reduce disparities between the previous law and international child protection laws and standards.
Notably, the Child Rights Protection Bill grants police the authority to conduct investigations and Family Protection Service the right to conduct social inquiries and assessments for cases in which there is reasonable cause to believe that a child needs protection.
The bill prohibits death sentences for actions that a child was proven to have committed before or after they reach 18 years of age. Overall children under the age of 15 are exempt from bearing the burden of criminal charges as per the bill.
The formation of a Child Rights Protection Council, Child and Family Protection Service and the appointment of a Children’s Ombudsperson tasked with overseeing the bill's implementation was also stipulated.
Additionally, the bill sets regulations under which children can be taken under state care, the procedure concerning the treatment of such children and guidelines for adoption.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has commended Maldives' decision to pass the Child Rights Protection Bill, describing the decision as 'historic'.