On penal code anniversary, six key sunset laws lead to legal vacuum

Justice Building in the capital Male. Maldives marks the first year anniversary of its new penal code on Saturday. MIHAARU FILE PHOTO

Justice Building in the capital Male. Maldives marks the first year anniversary of its new penal code on Saturday. MIHAARU FILE PHOTO

Six key laws with sunset provisions have ceased to have effect leading to a possible legal vacuum.

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom ‎ratified the First Amendment Bill to the new Penal Code in April 12 last year. The amendment came into effect from July 16 containing six key laws in Article 18 of the penal code.

  • Anti-torture Act
  • Special provisions Act to deal with child sex abuse offenders
  • Law on Prohibiting Threatening and Possession of Dangerous Weapons and Sharp Objects
  • Drugs Act
  • Prevention of money laundering and financing of terrorism act
  • Sexual offences Act

According to the amendment the Attorney General’s office must review the regulations under the six laws and decide on extending the respective laws within a year.

Mihaaru understands that the AG office is yet to make a decision over the extensions which means the six laws have now ceased to have effect from Saturday.

Prominent attorneys believe that the government’s failure to decide on the extensions means the laws have now ceased to have effect.

Former deputy prosecutor general Hussain Shameem believes that the government’s failure has created a legal vacuum.

Prosecutors now cannot file charges under these laws now, he said.

“The court should not accept cases filed under those laws,” Shameem who played a key role in the drafting of the new penal code added.

Former attorney general Husnu Suood backed Shameem’s views.

He also said no one can now be charged for committing a crime stipulated under the six laws.

Maldives adopted the new penal code in July last year repealing a law written in 1968.

The landmark law has been hailed as one that is compatible with both the Islamic Shari’ah and international human rights standards. The penal code came into into effect nearly ten years after it was first drafted and despite efforts by the judiciary to overhaul it.

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