Parliament to vote on controversial terror bill on Monday

Lawmakers pictures during a sitting at the Parliament. (File Photo/People's Majlis)

The Parliament is scheduled to convene for a special sitting for the final debate and vote on the government’s proposed amendments to the Counter-Terrorism Act on Monday.

The Parliament, which is currently in recess, has been convening for special sittings to work on the legislature - which the government insists is necessary for law enforcement agencies to effectively counter the threat of terrorism.

The legislature was submitted to Parliament on September 12, accepted into the Parliament and sent to the National Security and Foreign Relations Committee for evaluation on Sunday, September 22.

The committee confirms it completed its evaluation on the legislature on Thursday.

Chairperson of National Security and Foreign Relations Committee Ibrahim Shareef (Mavota Shareef) told Sun that the Parliament will convene for the final debate and vote on the legislature on Monday, but that lawmakers will be allowed to submit their thoughts on the legislature finalized by the committee until noon on Sunday.

“The sitting, as of now, is scheduled for Monday. The sitting will be held on Monday unless decided otherwise,” said Shareef.

He said that the committee took public opinion as well as expert opinion from relevant State agencies into consideration when evaluating the legislature.

“The committee has now published its report following extensive discussions based on expert opinion, comments sent in by lawmakers, and others,” said Shareef.

The committee, during its one-week evaluation in secrecy, did not make any major changes but several minor ones.

The controversial clause which was previously designed to allow law enforcement agencies to hold terror suspects for up to 48 hours before having to be presented to court for remand hearing has been revised the standard 24 hours – though law enforcement agencies will still be allowed to arrest terror suspects without a court warrant, and the penalty for several terror offenses have been lightened.

And a clause has been added to stipulate that law enforcement agencies must share a secret document detailing action taken by law enforcement agencies under the legislature to the President and the Parliament’s National Security Services Committee every six months.

Though Shareef reports the Parliament will vote on the legislature on Monday, the vote has yet to be announced by the Parliament secretariat.