Maldive's anti-terror law amended

President of the Maldives Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has ratified an amendment to the Act on Prohibition of Terrorism, empowering the authorities to prepare a list of suspected terrorist organisations.

The Maldives National Defence Force would monitor such organisations, as per instructions from the National Security Council. As per the law that was enacted in October 2015, the list of organisations would be kept secret, Ibrahim Hussain Shihab, international spokesperson at the President’s office, told The Hindu on Wednesday.

A week ago, the amendment was adopted by the country’s legislature, the People’s Majlis, with 43 votes in favour of the move and 16 votes against.

A few days ago, it was announced that the amendment, which was the first, got ratification of the President.

National Security Council’s advice

Explaining the rationale behind the amendment, Mr. Shihab said the amendment was mooted on the advice of the National Security Council.

Asked whether any political party would be declared as a suspected terrorist organisation, the spokesperson replied that only those engaged in “aiding, abetting, and engaging in terrorist acts” would be targeted under the list and “any administration gains no advantage by listing a political party within the list.”

“For people’s safety”

He justified the amendment by saying that the move proved that the administration and the People’s Majlis viewed issues of public safety and national security as those “deserving the highest consideration and priority.”

Criticising the amendment, Imthiyaz Fahmy, spokesperson of the principal Opposition party, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), questioned the need for keeping the list of organisations secret. There were chances of people getting caught for having supported or promoted any organisation that would be a terrorist organisation as per the list without knowing the facts of the matter.

‘For transparency’

“There must be transparency,” Mr. Fahmy asserted, adding that his party’s proposals were rejected. He accused the government of seeking to use the law against political parties and contended that those who were “real threats to the country” had not been brought to book.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2020 12:32:52 PM |

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