Terrorism Bill amended to detain alleged terrorists for 24 hours

The bill proposed to empower the police to detain alleged terrorists without a court order for 48 hours has been amended.

Presented by Henveiru Dhekunu MP Hussein Shaheem on behalf of the government, the bill proposed that alleged terrorists can be taken into police custody and detained without being presented in front of a judge for 48 hours.

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Following assessment by the parliament committee on National Security and Foreign Relations, the bill has now been amended such that suspects have to be presented in front of a judge within 24 hours. The committee sought the counsel of relevant authorities and public opinion on the matter before bringing the change.

Several MPs from main ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had earlier noted that empowering the police to detain alleged terrorists without presenting them in front of a judge for 48 hours contradicts the constitution, and pointed out that they should be brought to a judge within 24 hours of detainment according to the constitution.

While the committee has approved the article on the bill that states that suspects may be arrested without a court order, it also states that the approval of an officer above Sub-Inspector of Police rank is necessary to make such an arrest. Several MDP members voiced their concerns over this during the debate stage and stated that approval should be given by officers above Assistant Commissioner of Police rank.

Under the bill, acts of terrorism include causing harm to an individual, forcibly abducting an individual, causing damage to property, hijacking passenger/commercial vehicles, endangering the health or security of an individual, and deliberately damaging and destroying infrastructure. Moreover, the manufacture and sale of weaponry is also included as an act of terrorism.

The bill also states that anyone indicted with an act of terrorism can be sentenced to 20-25 years in jail.

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