Reference No: 63/5/2012
Government and Police Engage in Extrajudicial Violence and Intimidation
Hundreds, including women, beaten and pepper sprayed; MPs illegally arrested
A day after the Government ignored a Criminal Court order denying the Government and police the authority to dismantle MDP’s iconic Usfasgandu rally ground, the Government on Tuesday again showed its disdain for the law by completing the destruction of Usfasgandu and engaging in a spree of police brutality and unlawful arrests.
Earlier this week the Criminal Court refused a Government request to issue a court order for the forced dispersal of the protest camp which has been granted to the MDP by Male City Council. The next day, the Home Minister, Dr. Mohamed Jameel, claimed that he had suddenly received information about illegal activities at Usfasgandu and sent in the police to investigate alleged ‘illegal activities’ and alleged ‘black magic’ being performed in the area.
The police thus arrived and, contrary to the Criminal Court’s instruction, and ignoring the fact that the Civil Court was also considering the issue, began to search and dismantle the camp, and to attack, intimidate and unlawfully unrest MDP supporters. A number of MDP MPs, including women MPs, who were monitoring developments were also attacked by the police who by now were acting more like paramilitary gangs than law enforcement officers.
In the ensuing trouble, hundreds of MDP supporters, including women and children, were beaten, pepper sprayed and baton charged. One MDP MP, ImthiyazFahmy, was arbitrarily arrested and kept in detention without access to family or lawyers. Over forty people were held illegally in detention. Many instances of police brutality and human rights violations committed against peaceful protesters have been reported.
Late in the day, the Civil Court ordered the police to stop its actions, and halt the dismantling of the protest camp. However, by this time, the out-of-control police had already finished its work, leaving only a few chairs and a flagpole. The police searches of the area, ordered by the Home Minister, found no illegal items.
Speaking of the continuing police brutality, MDP’s spokesperson, Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said:
“Police brutality is becoming more blatant and widespread. They are acting with complete impunity against anyone associated with MDP, including women and law-makers. Gross human rights violations are taking place almost continuously.And yet the international community is silent. The UN publicly complained when one single judge was placed in detention. Yet they have said nothing about this horrific violence currently being perpetrated. The United States claims to be a champion of free speech and freedom of assembly, yet it its silence on these appalling crimes only serves to encourage the police to do more. The EU has also been disappointingly silent.
We urge these friends of the Maldives to use their influence to call at once for a halt to this barbarity”.
Hamid Abdul Ghafoor
Spokesperson, International Affairs