Maldives institutions and defence lawyers have welcomed the landmark criminal procedures law that came into force on Monday.
The Attorney Generalâ€™s office said the law was â€œmuch needed to place the Maldives justice system on the same footings as developed countries,â€ and advised the relevant institutions to implement the changes necessary to migrate to Criminal Procedure Act and enforce the law.
â€œThe Criminal Procedures Act is the most modern law passed in the Maldives and it will bring significant changes to criminal justice system,â€ the AG office said in a statement.
â€œThe government took 10 years to prepare this bill and on this occasion we would like to thank all those involvedâ€.
The Criminal Procedures Act wasÂ passedÂ in April last year but the ruling party-dominated parliamentÂ postponed the enactment of the lawÂ in NovemberÂ contendingÂ thatÂ 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 Generalâ€™s spokesman, saidÂ the office is fully prepared for the law and welcomedÂ the â€œmodern changesâ€ it has introduced.
The law will make the work of prosecutors much easier, he added.
SuperintendentÂ 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 â€œto make it even more perfect,â€ 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 But the amendment bill was withdrawn after itÂ divided opinion among lawmakers of the ruling Progressive Party of MaldivesÂ with some complaining that the changes were proposed without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 lawâ€™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 doubtÂ over the capability of the police to enforce the law.