Maldives institutions and defence lawyers have welcomed the landmark criminal procedures law that came into force on Monday.
The Attorney General’s office said the law was “much needed to place the Maldives justice system on the same footings as developed countries,” and advised the relevant institutions to implement the changes necessary to migrate to Criminal Procedure Act and enforce the law.
“The Criminal Procedures Act is the most modern law passed in the Maldives and it will bring significant changes to criminal justice system,” the AG office said in a statement.
“The government took 10 years to prepare this bill and on this occasion we would like to thank all those involved”.
The Criminal Procedures Act was passed in April last year but the ruling party-dominated parliament postponed the enactment of the law in November contending that more time was needed to train law enforcement officers, prosecutor and judges.
The law lays out detailed processes and stringent rules for arrest, investigation, and prosecution. It will also introduce deadlines to conclude investigations and trials.
Ahmed Thaufeeq, the Prosecutor General’s spokesman, said the office is fully prepared for the law and welcomed the “modern changes” it has introduced.
The law will make the work of prosecutors much easier, he added.
Superintendent Ahmed Shifan, the police spokesman, said awareness sessions have been conducted for almost all police officers about the new law.
The police have also made suggestions to revise the law “to make it even more perfect,” he noted.
In mid-June, the government proposed more than 90 amendments to the law, including a controversial provision to authorise law enforcement bodies to search public places without a court warrant. But the amendment bill was withdrawn after it divided opinion among lawmakers of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives with some complaining that the changes were proposed without consultation.
Defence lawyers have also welcomed the enforcement of the criminal procedures law.
A lawyer who chose to remain anonymous told the Maldives Independent that one of the most important changes would be the law’s governance of the process of issuing court orders.
Ahmed Mahfooz Saeed, a prominent defence lawyer, suggested that introducing a timeframe for investigating cases and pressing charges would be a significant improvement.
Mahfooz, however, cast doubt over the capability of the police to enforce the law.