Opposition submits amendments to remove clauses that empower 241 Committee

Maldives Police Service's officers stand in line to greet President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih during a visit to the Iskandhar Building on July 5, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

The opposition coalition has submitted amendments to the Police Service Bill, designed to remove some of the clauses which declare additional powers to the Parliament’s National Security Services Committee (241 Committee).

The PPM-PNC coalition, in addition to proposing amendments to some of the clauses on the bill, has also proposed amendments to the police oath.

As such, they have proposed removing the clause which declares that the 241 Committee is empowered to question the Commissioner of Police and the Home Minister regarding the work of Maldives Police Service for oversight, and the clause which declares the 241 Committee is empowered to recommend courses of action for improvement in response to the committee’s instructions.

The opposition said the reason for proposing the removal of the clauses is because Article 239 of the Constitution declares that the Parliament has authority over the security services.

They have also proposed amending the composition of the policing board. The bill currently states that the board must have members appointed by the President, the Home Minister, and the 241 Committee. The opposition has proposed amending the composition to include members appointed by Customs, Immigration, MNDF and Local Government Authority (LGA).

The opposition has proposed adding clauses to the section which declares responsibilities of the Home Minister and Commissioner of Police.

As such, they have proposed an additional clause to the responsibilities of Home Minister to stipulate that the Minister must respond to instructions provided by the Parliament in writing my identifying what needs to be done to remedy situations and take necessary action, and that the Minister must respond to the Parliament in writing if unable to adhere to the instructions.

Four additional clauses have been proposed to the responsibilities of the Commissioner of Police; requiring the Commissioner of Police to share the changes to the main policies to maintain public safety and security with the 241 Committee, requiring information pertaining to police operations for as long as it poses no risk of impeding ongoing investigations to be shared with the 241 Committee upon request, requiring information pertaining to measures to bolster public confidence in the police to be shared with the 241 Committee upon request, and requiring information pertaining to the weapons and other resources at the disposal of the police to be shared with the 241 Committee upon request.

The opposition has also proposed amending the police oath so it sticks closer to the current police oath.

While some allege the Police Service Bill grants the 241 Committee additional powers which will allow it to overreach its authority, committee chair, North Hithadhoo MP Mohamed Aslam has stated that the bill will not allow the committee any additional powers, but will merely invoke the powers already vested in the committee by the Constitution.