Parliament of the Maldives has passed the bill on legal evidence to replace the existing law on legal evidence, which was implemented in 1976.
The bill on legal evidence was proposed on behalf of the government by MP Abdul Mughunee. The bill on legal evidence consists of 19 chapters and 150 subsections and is meant to modernise the policies and regulations on gathering, submitting, accepting, confirming, and preserving legal evidence. The bill also includes details on using evidence to conclude civil and criminal cases in accordance with Islamic law.
The Evidence Bill submitted by the Government in September 2021 includes a provision which mandates disclosing journalists’ sources through court orders. Additionally, the Bill also states that such orders must be made after reviewing the adverse effects of disclosing sources on the informant as well as the journalist and the media they work for.
Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) members staged a silent protest against this provision in front of the Parliament on Thursday, calling for the removal of the clause.
The bill was passed with votes from 50 MPs. Five MPs voted against the bill, while two MPs abstained from the vote.
Legal experts have been critical of the current laws in place, which makes it difficult to safeguard the rights of witnesses who testify in major court cases. The bill on legal evidence proposes to make changes in order to fix such issues and protect witnesses.