PG leaders approached for talks to expedite counter-terror bill

(From L-R) PNC's parliamentary group leader, MP Adam Shareef Umar; MDP's parliamentary group leader, MP Ali Azim; Speaker of Parliament, Mohamed Nasheed; JP's parliamentary group leader, Qasim Ibrahim; and PPM's parliamentary group leader MP Ahmed Shiyam pcitured holding copies of the draft report on journalist Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla's murder on September 2, 2019. (Photo/People's Majlis)

Speaker of Parliament, former Maldivian leader Mohamed Nasheed has announced his decision to engage in discussions with the leaders of parliamentary groups to expedite the government’s new counter-terror legislature.

The Parliament convened for a special sitting to hold the first reading of the counter-terrorism legislature, which was submitted to the Parliament on behalf of the government by South Henveyru MP Hussain Shaheem (Andhun Hussain) - this Thursday morning.

The Parliament’s standing orders dictate that a preliminary debate on a legislature will be held seven days after the first reading of the legislature, but also allows a preliminary debate to be held in three days if parliamentary group leaders come to agreement.

Speaker Nasheed announced this Thursday that he will initiate talks to hold the preliminary debate within three days.

“The date for the next parliamentary sitting will be announced after discussions with [parliamentary group] leaders of political parties,” said Nasheed.

He said the next sitting will be held on Monday, September 16, if the parliamentary group leaders agreed, or after seven days as the standing orders dictated, if an agreement isn’t reached.

“I will uphold the standing orders and protocols of this Parliament. Even if there’s something the government, a private business, or a private citizen wants – this Parliament will be run in accordance with the standing orders,” said Nasheed.

The submission of the counter-terror legislature comes after President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih announced his administration’s intention of redrafting both the counter-terror act and the penal code in an effort to stamp out violent crime. He has urged the Parliament to expedite the legislative amendments.

The new counter-terror legislation accommodates a broader definition of terrorism, and grants sweeping powers to law enforcement agencies in dealing with terror suspects – stoking fears over possible abuse of power and restrictions on basic civic and political rights.