Maldives Police Service declined to allow jailed leader of Jumhoory Party and lawmaker of Maamigili constituency, Qasim Ibrahim, to the parliament sitting held Monday.
Qasim Ibrahim was arrested under accusations of bribing lawmakers regarding the recent motion of no confidence taken against the parliamentary speaker, and of working to unlawfully overturn the government of the Maldives. The Criminal Court has added six days to his remand and he is detained in Dhoonidhoo Detention Centre under policy custody.
Despite demands by the opposition to present Qasim to the parliament chamber, Police declared that Qasim will not be allowed to attend the session. They did not explain the reason behind their decision.
Opposition lawmakers declared that preventing the lawmaker from attending parliament sessions is a violation of the Constitution, as the Parliamentary Privileges Act states that Police must present parliamentarians who are detained under accusations of criminal offences to parliament sessions. However, the Act bans parliamentarians, who are convicted and serving sentences for criminal offences, from taking part in sittings.
Jumhoory Party’s deputy leader, Kinbidhoo MP Abdulla Riyaz, and main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s parliamentary group deputy leader, Addu Meedhoo MP Rozaina Adam, both referred to previous cases where jailed lawmakers were presented to parliament and committee meetings. The two lawmakers called on the police to adhere to regulations and present Qasim Ibrahim without discrimination.
The agenda for Monday’s parliament session was the amendment to parliament regulations passed by the General Purpose Committee to mandate minimum 42 signatures to submit a motion of no confidence against the speaker and deputy speaker.
The lawmakers of opposition parties maintain that Qasim’s arrest violates the Constitution and the Parliamentary Privileges Act, which states that unless a lawmaker is found in the act of a criminal offence, he or she may only be arrested for a criminal charge by an order of a superior court or a court above it. Moreover, such a request may only be made by the Prosecutor General (PG) if a lawmaker’s arrest is required by any investigative forces. Thus, the opposition lawmakers are calling on the authorities to immediately free him.