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President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has ratified amendments to five different Acts, which had been passed by the Parliament of the Maldives.
The amendments ratified by the president on September 22 include the third amendment to the Criminal Procedure Act, second amendment to the Human Rights Commission Act, second amendment to the Audit Act, sixth amendment to the Employment Act and the first amendment to the Special Act to Ensure Enforcement of the Decentralisation Act. All five amendment bills had been passed by the parliament on September 6.
The third amendment to the Criminal Procedure Act aims to address obstacles that prevent the effective enforcement of the Criminal Procedure Act. It does this by adding additional enforcement mechanisms to the main Act. Further, under the amendment, important new provisions are added to the Act. This includes delineating rape and sexual abuse of children as serious criminal offences.
The second amendment to the Human Rights Commission Act places added safeguards to prevent corruption within the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM). It mandates that all appointed individuals must declare their assets, and ensures that they cannot unduly benefit from their position or exercise undue influence. It further delineates clear ethical guidelines for members to abide by.
The second amendment to the Audit Act is intended to ensure that the Auditor General can perform his or her mandate independently, while adding safeguards against undue influences that would compromise the integrity or impartiality of the office. Similarly, it includes ethical guidelines the Auditor General must abide by, to prevent the misuse of the office’s influence for personal gain. It also prohibits the Auditor General from being concurrently employed elsewhere during their tenure, or from engaging in any activity that would result in a conflict of interest.
The sixth amendment to the Employment Act stipulates several provisions to protect the rights of employees, such as regulations making it compulsory for all employers to provide a signed copy of the employment agreement to all employees. It further stipulates that all the employers must provide signed employment agreements to all employees within 3 months of the amendment coming into force.
The amendment to the Employment Act also restructures the 30 days of paid sick leave granted to all employees, hereafter allowing employees up to two consecutive days (15 days annually) of paid sick leave without providing a medical certificate. It further directs the relevant cabinet minister to determine and implement a minimum wage for all employees in the Maldives. The cabinet minister is required to consult the 'Minimum Wage Advisory Board' - provisions for the creation of the board and its mandate are also included in the amendment.
Other provisions in the amendment include setting a ceiling for the numbers of foreign workers from each country, provisions for prioritising Maldivians for employment and training opportunities and standards for accommodations and living conditions provided by employers.
Meanwhile, the first amendment to the Special Act to Ensure Enforcement of the Decentralisation Act adds three new provisions following section 7 of the Act. These provide guidelines describing the manner in which the President and Vice President of the Local Government Authority (LGA) should be elected. Under the amendment, the President of the LGA will be answerable to the parliament, on LGA-related matters.
Following ratification, the amendments have been published in the Government Gazette.