Home Minister commends progress on police reform bill

Home Minister Sheikh Imran Abdulla. (File Photo/Sun/Fayaz Moosa)

Home Minister Imran Abdulla has expressed his confidence that the police force of the country will become an effective institution that the citizens are inclined towards when the proposed Maldives Police Service bill becomes a law.

The Minister said he was happy that work on the bill was moving along speedily. The Police institution will become an effective and constructive force that provides the services citizens want in an organized manner that can be overseen by the elected government, said the Minister.

He added that this was the right time to reform the police force which is something the citizens have long called for. The bill regarding police was proposed by West Henveiru MP Hassan Latheef.

Attorney General’s Office submitted the bill to the Parliament in December of 2019. The bill restates the responsibilities of officers and means to amend and improve the accountability of the force. 

The AG’s Office said that the purpose of the bill was to ensure that all aspects of the police are conducted within the constitution and legal limits in a manner that respects human rights and rule of law.

File photo of the Maldives Police Service badge displayed on the uniform of a police officer. (File Photo/Sun/Mohamed Muzain Nazim)

The AG’s office also said that the purpose was to introduce a new law instead of the current policing Act that states how the Police institution is established, main principles and policies of the police service, main responsibilities of the police, powers as well as other related aspects.

Some of the amendments proposed in the bill include:

  • Formulating a policy of a police service based on the philosophy of community policing that can operate in a decentralized manner.
  • Formulating policies to ensure that the powers granted to police as part of the legal responsibilities are used in accordance with the policies stipulated in the law regarding the circumstances or instances.
  • Enhancing the procedure of appointment for Commissioner of Police and Deputy Commissioner of Police in addition to stipulating clear requirements to be fulfilled in order to be appointed for the position.
  • The formation of advisory figures to the Commissioner regarding advisory matters and discussions to ensure that the operations of the police service are run accordingly with the law.
  • Prohibition of Ministers ordering specific police officers as well as clearly stipulating the responsibilities of the Ministers regarding matters involving the police.
  • The clear stipulation of the Prosecutor General’s role in investigations.
  • The clear stipulation of the role of Parliament’s Committee on National Security Services in holding the police service accountable.
  • Clearly defining the powers of the police granted to protect public peace and cease criminal activity.
  • The clear stipulation that the police are to operate in the lawfully prescribed manner to disperse gatherings and in no other manner, as well as the stipulation that the use of force must not be used if there is no situation that warrants it. In addition to this, the bill also reads that the use of force by police in a situation where it is warranted must be used in proportion with the danger faced.