Lawmaker dismisses claim police bill accommodates committee overreach

North Hithadhoo MP Mohamed Aslam. (Photo/People's Majlis)

Chair of Parliament’s Security Services Committee (241 Committee) Mohamed Aslam said on Wednesday that he does not believe the Police Service Bill accommodates for the committee to overreach its authority.

Many have voiced concern the Police Service Bill will allow for the 241 Committee to assume additional powers over Maldives Police Service.

The bill declares that the 241 Committee has the authority to hold both the Home Minister and the Commissioner of Police accountable, and the authority to make necessary changes to the service of the police force.

The bill also declares the 241 Committee has the authority to be informed of procedures in dealing with suspects in police custody and making changes to the procedures.

Aslam, parliamentary representative for North Hithadhoo constituency, appeared for a press briefing on the bill on Wednesday afternoon.

In response to a question, Aslam said the 241 Committee was established and is empowered through a provision of the Constitution, which declares that a committee must be formed within the Parliament responsible for oversight of the security services, and that the committee must be composed of representatives of all political parties represented in the Parliament.

And Article 239 of the Constitution declares that the Parliament has authority over the security services.

Police Service Bill references the provisions in question, and states that the purpose of declaring the role of the 241 Committee on Article 72 of Police Service Bill is to invoke the constitutional provisions.

Aslam said that lawmakers were divided on whether to declare the roles and responsibilities of the 241 Committee on the Police Service Bill, or on the Standing Orders of the Parliament, and had engaged in discussions over the issue.

He said that some of the lawmakers were of the opinion that it is not an issue for the responsibilities to be declared on a law.

“I don’t see any additional powers. What I see is it is already within the reach of 241 Committee through the Parliament’s Standing Orders and through the Constitution to assume the powers,” said Aslam.

Aslam said the biggest focus of the committee in evaluating the bill is to carry out the process by accommodate the opinion of as many parties as possible.

He said the committee is working to complete the evaluation process by July 15.