Parliament passes Transitional Justice Bill

Parliament of the Maldives has passed the Transitional Justice Bill proposed by the government.

The bill was submitted to the parliament on behalf of the government by Parliamentarian Ahmed Rasheed. The bill was passed with votes from 54 parliamentarians.

The Transitional Justice Bill aims to ensure a path to justice for all who have suffered injustice in the past. Although the bill was originally drafted with the aim of providing justice for all who were deprived of their rights or punished unlawfully between 2012 and 2018, the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and Gender amended the bill to extend the starting date to 1953, when the Maldives first became a republic. Noting a lot of people have suffered injustice and inhumane punishment over several years, the committee said it is important that the new bill ensures a path to justice for all of them.

The bill states an Ombudsman’s Office must be established to oversee the cases submitted under the provisions of the Transitional Justice Bill. The Ombudsman’s Office will be composed of three members appointed by the President.

As an investigative body, the Ombudsman’s Office will have the authority to forward charges to the Prosecutor General’s Office. The Ombudsman’s Office is also authorised to reopen a closed investigation if new evidence has surfaced.

PG Office is required to make a decision on charges forwarded by the Ombudsman’s Office within 15 days. Trial of all charges pressed in court must be concluded within 45 days after charges have been pressed.

A period of 10 days is given to submit an appeal after sentencing, while the appeal process must be concluded within 30 days. If the defendant feels the sentence is unlawful, an appeal can be lodged at the Supreme Court within a period of 10 days after the sentence is issued.