The government has introduced a bill aimed at amending the Criminal Procedure Act, which, if passed, will permit convicts to be released on bail during the appeal process until the final verdict is reached. 

The bill, presented on behalf of the government by Inguraidhoo MP Hassan Ahmed, outlines specific criteria and conditions under which bail may be granted or denied, signalling a shift towards a more flexible judicial process.

Under the proposed amendment, the judiciary is tasked with considering five critical factors when deliberating on granting bail to convicts appealing their sentences or to suspects awaiting trial. These factors include the absence of prior contempt of court charges related to bail, the duration elapsed before the commencement of the trial, the potential risk to victims in cases of assault or grievous bodily harm, the likelihood of evidence or witness tampering, and the risk of the suspect evading law enforcement.

The amendment also specifies seven conditions that could be imposed on individuals released on bail during their appeal. These conditions range from restricting communication with victims and witnesses, setting geographic limits on movement, to more stringent measures such as house confinement during specific hours and a complete prohibition on travel.

However, the bill also delineates a clear boundary by excluding certain convicts from the possibility of bail during the appeal process. Specifically, individuals convicted of grave offenses such as murder, manslaughter, terrorism, drug trafficking, child sexual abuse, and other crimes deemed ineligible for bail under Article 63 of the Criminal Procedure Act, will not benefit from this amendment.

This legislative proposal aligns with President Dr Mohamed Muizzu’s commitment to reform the criminal justice system, highlighting the administration’s pledge to ensure fairness and flexibility within the legal framework. The amendment aims to balance the rights of individuals awaiting the conclusion of their legal appeals with the imperative to protect society and uphold justice.