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Page added on November 1, 2012

MPs oppose limiting presidential prerogative on appointing Police Commissioner

MPs oppose limiting presidential prerogative on appointing Police Commissioner thumbnail

Several MPs yesterday objected to a clause in proposed legislation for a new Maldives Police Service Act limiting presidential prerogative to appoint the Police Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner, during preliminary debate on the bill (Dhivehi) submitted by Independent MP for Kulhudhufushi South Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed.

While all MPs supported the 137-page legislation as a whole, most MPs insisted that the presidential prerogative to appoint the Commissioner of Police should remain unchanged and that the head of police should answer to the commander-in-chief.

The bill

Presenting the draft legislation to parliament, MP Nasheed said he sought to “restrict the role of the Home Minister over police” by limiting the minister’s powers.

The Home Minister’s role would be limited to entrusting responsibilities to police for achieving “strategic requirements” or objectives pledged by the ruling party’s manifesto, as well as providing necessary resources and monitoring the implementation of “instructions concerning the main policies and objectives for developing and strengthening the institution”.

“The minister should not state how particular investigations should proceed and interfere in such matters,” he said. “Police should be provided the operational independence or operational autonomy to do police work.”

The bill would also provide new powers over police to the parliament’s Security Services Committee (241 committee) and the Prosecutor General, he added.

Under the proposed procedure for appointing a Police Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner, senior officers from the executive command would themselves apply for the post or propose colleagues, after which the Home Minister would submit their names for evaluation by the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) and the police professional command unit.

Based on the reports by the PIC and professional command, the minister would then take a vote on the chosen candidate among senior officers of the executive command through secret ballot.

The Home Minister could only propose a nominee to the President if he or she is approved by “a majority of the total number of members of the police executive service.”

Moreover, the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner would be appointed for a four-year term.

“Revolutionary change”

As all powers currently exercised by police were derived from a regulation formed under one article of the existing Police Act, Nasheed said one of the purposes of the new law was to ensure that all powers vested in police were derived from specific articles in the law.

“These are not just one or two amendments to the Police Act currently in force. These are basic changes to everything in the Police Act from cover to cover,” MP Nasheed said.

Nasheed said MPs and the major political parties had the choice to leave the police service in its current form or “modernise” the institution in light of past experiences.

Police was the one institution that came under the fiercest criticism during the reigns of Presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Mohamed Nasheed and Dr Mohamed Waheed, the MP said.

He added that the new law was intended to “bring fundamental, revolutionary change” to the institution.

If passed, the new law would come into effect on November 11, 2013, which would be the end of the five-year presidential term that began on November 11, 2008 and the ostensible date for the swearing-in of a newly-elected president.

Debate

During yesterday’s debate, MPs from both the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and parties in the ruling coalition objected to the proposed procedure for appointing the head of police.

Jumhooree Party (JP) MP for Kaafu Atoll Kaashidhoo, Abdulla Jabir, warned that the police service could become “a small government” if the president could not directly appoint and dismiss the Commissioner of Police.

“If not, wouldn’t that be like riding a horse without a saddle?” he asked.

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP for Thaa Atoll Thimararushi, Adam Ahmed Shareef, concurred that the executive or parliament should have the power to appoint the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner

“My proposal is that the highest authority in the police, that is the Commissioner of Police, should be appointed, in my view, with parliamentary approval after a nomination by the President,” he said, adding that the President should have to seek parliamentary approval for removing the commissioner.

MDP MP for Faafu Bilehdhoo Ahmed Hamza meanwhile objected to the procedure specified in the bill for dismissing a Police Commissioner – which was in effect a no-confidence vote by senior officers.

Hamza contended that the bill “mixes up the three powers” as it was unclear whether the President, parliament or Prosecutor General would answer on behalf of police.

He added that turning the Home Minister into a “symbolic” official was “unacceptable” as ministers in the executive should be accountable to the public.

Contrary to most MPs’ belief that the proposed reforms would free police from undue political influence, Hamza argued that the institution would become more politicised when its chief could be removed through “an election.”

“The Commissioner of Police should be answerable to the Home Minister and the Home Minister should be answerable to the President,” he said.

However, Hamza said the bill should be accepted and amended during the committee stage.

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7 Comments on "MPs oppose limiting presidential prerogative on appointing Police Commissioner"

  1. LipService on Thu, 1st Nov 2012 3:18 PM 

    Is there no one other than this Kutti Nasheed to propose amendments/draft legislation in Majlis?

    After his blabbering on TV on 7 February, everything he does is totally suspect, whether justified or not. And every piece if legislation he meddles with has made these suspicions firmer.

    He supported the manner in which the government was changed, for crying out loud. How democratic a man is this???

  2. Heidi on Thu, 1st Nov 2012 4:35 PM 

    Why did Kutti try to remove sections in the penal code which were to do with criminal activity against the state? In 2011. Did he know there was going to be a baghaawai. You betcha

  3. Ahmed on Thu, 1st Nov 2012 4:47 PM 

    He supported this amendment when president Nasheed was running, he support it now. This is his character. He stands fast with what he believe in.
    There are always pro and cons in any person.

    You can talk about how democratic president Nasheed was;
    1. He distorted law and order by clearly defying court and laws.
    2. His spokesmen Juha threatened criminal prosecution against media.
    3. He tried to arrest the MPs and asked his cabinet to resign for the stunt in order to intercept a “suspected” no confidence vote on him in Majlis.

    On pros: President Nasheed on assuming power he said;
    1. He will have nothing to do with media, that he will not play with it.
    2. He allowed peaceful protest and did not have mast arrest.
    3. He ruled on implementing a manifesto he promised on election.

  4. Peace on Thu, 1st Nov 2012 5:00 PM 

    Why sabotage the legal framework for healthy functioning of democracy.

    Such changes are apparently to bully a few and spite a few. Not in national interest. Calm down guys. BUild this nation.

  5. Kutti Nasheed Lawyer on Thu, 1st Nov 2012 5:08 PM 

    finally my pic on Minivan.. yeah.. thanks JJ

  6. Experrt on Thu, 1st Nov 2012 6:04 PM 

    Another MP who has nothing to do -.-

  7. HassanK on Sat, 3rd Nov 2012 7:48 AM 

    This bill is not coming from Kutti. It is coming from Police themselves. May be Kutti needed ‘some cash’ to take this cash the Majlis floor on behalf of the police. I have to say Kutti’s bills are usually better than this.

    This is basically the way, Riyaz and Nazim schemed how to stay in power forever. They have already provided millions of MRF benefits to the senior officers and they know this purchase of loyalty will ensure they will be the only names proposed within the law and therefore will remain in power for as long as they want.

    Let me ask the wise man Kutti this question. How is it better that the government will no longer have to take responsibility for the continued lawlessness on the streets. Failure of such basic public services are meant to be addressed by the people through election. But wait, under Kutti’s law, nobody is responsible and there isn’t a thing the voting public can do during an election no matter how bad the police service is. This is totally laughable…


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