Sunday 23rd Jan 2022
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Hate crimes

President Signs Hate Crime Bill Into Law

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has signed the so-called “hate crime” bill into law. The bill is an amendment to the Maldives Penal Code proposed by the government to “stop hatred” by making “hate speech” and “hate crimes” a criminal offense.
The bill had been proposed by the government following the May 6 bomb-attack on Speaker Mohamed Nasheed.
The bill passed after the Parliament Judiciary Committee had made several changes to the bill. The bill currently criminalises publicly accusing an individual who “expresses a view, or does an act, over which there exists a difference of scholarly opinion but still adheres to a reliable opinion that exists within Sunni Islam” as being “anti-Islamic”.
In addition, the penal code will now state that accusing a Muslim of apostasy or disbelief as long as they do not publicly express an utterance of disbelief or publicly apostatise.
In addition to accusing a person of apostasy or disbelief, the new law will now criminalise harming such a person or encouraging harming them.
When the bill was originally submitted to the Majlis, the bill’s language could have been construed as criminalising any utterance which accused anyone, under any condition, of being “anti-Islamic” or a disbeliever. There had been a public outcry in response.
The newly-passed bill will now criminalise Islamophobic acts and utterances.