Parliament approves India-Maldives treaty on criminal matters

The parliament on Monday approved the Maldives to participate in the “Treaty between the Republic of Maldives and the Republic of India on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters”.

65 members voted in favor of approving the archipelago's participation while 11 members voted against it.

The government first began work to establish a treaty between Maldives and India on criminal matters during the tenure of former president Mohamed Nasheed. The parliament in 2011 approved to sign the treaty, although the work was later halted as the printed copy submitted at the parliament had reportedly not been approved by India. The two succeeding governments that followed did not pursue the treaty further.

While the treaty has now been approved by the 19th parliament, it becomes the first of its kind to be signed by the Maldivian government.

Including a total of 26 articles, the scope of the treaty covers the facilitation of the widest measures of mutual assistance in the service of summons, execution of warrants and other judicial documents and commissions, in accordance with the treaty and subject to the domestic laws of participating States. It also includes improving the effectiveness of both countries in the prevention, investigation and prosecution of crime, including crime related to terrorism and tracing, restraints forfeiture or confiscation of funds meant for financing of terrorism as also the proceeds and instruments of crime, through cooperation and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.

For the purposes of the treaty, the Central Authorities stated in the treaty shall transmit and receive all requests made under the treaty. As per the “Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act” (Act No. 2/2015) of the Maldives, the Central Authority for the Maldives is the Prosecutor General’s Office.

The treaty will facilitate the fight against criminal activity, especially crime related to terrorism. It will also aid in the investigation of such matters, obtaining evidence, and broaden the opportunity to interrogate those in question.

The President’s decision to partake in the treaty met with a lot of criticism during the debate stage at the parliament, with opposing members as well as some coalition partners expressing concern on the treaty.