Reference No: 103/09/2012
3 September 2012
Growing Sense of Impunity in Wake of CoNI Report – MDP
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) today warned the international community that one consequence of the deeply one-sided report of the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) is that there is now a sense of complete impunity among State actors. Government comments since the CoNI report was published demonstrate that, beyond prosecuting President Mohamed Nasheed, they have no intention of securing accountability for the serious human rights violations, which have occurred since 7th February. Because the international community had largely backed the CoNI report, it is vital that it now send a message to the Government that all its findings and recommendations should be acted upon – including that those individuals, especially police officers and their political superiors, who have committed violations must be held to account.
MDP believes that Dr. Waheed must make a serious effort to respond to the repeated allegations of police brutality in the report. In the report, CoNI notes, “there were acts of police brutality on 6, 7 and 8 February 2012 that must be investigated and pursued further by the relevant authorities”, and in the recommendations: “with respect to the administration of justice, in particular concerning allegations of police brutality and acts of intimidation, there is an urgent need for investigations to proceed and to be brought to public knowledge with perpetrators held to account and appropriately sanctioned.”
With this in mind, it is deeply disturbing that senior members of the Government, have already expressed their view that the Dr. Waheed administration need not take any action as a result of the CoNI report which, they contend, absolves them completely.
Speaking to the press on Saturday, Dr. Jameel, the Home Minister, stated that all the events of 6, 7, 8 February – including police brutality – occurred as a result of unconstitutional orders by the MDP Government, and thus the Waheed Government bears no responsibility and is not bound to take any action.
Similarly, the Attorney-General noted yesterday that the report of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives stated that everything that happened on 6 and 7 February occurred because of the MDP Government, and thus, again, the Waheed Administration need not look at police brutality.
Finally, the Defence Minister, Mr. Nazim, said “nothing in the [CoNI] report states steps need to be takes against MNDF, therefore we won’t be.”
In addition to the growing sense of impunity, State security services are also increasing their crackdown on basic human rights including freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.
The Maldives Police Services in a statement on Friday stated “the populace may have to face the consequences of defaming the police institute” and on Saturday said “that those who claim that the 7 February transfer of power was a Police orchestrated coup d’etat and call Police officers ‘baaghee’ (traitor) can be arrested”. Meanwhile, the Defence Minister said the MNDF will take legal action against anyone who calls the military ‘baagee’.
“From the Governments response to the CoNI report, it seems that they now believe they are untouchable and answerable to no-one,” said Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, MDP spokesperson for international affairs.
The CoNI, the Human Rights Commission, the Police Integrity Commission, the UN Human Rights Committee, Amnesty International, the International Federation for Human Rights, have all demanded that state-sponsored violence perpetrated since President Nasheed’s resignation must be properly investigated and those responsible be held accountable.
Local NGO Transparency Maldives on Sunday called upon the government “to proactively address the institutional failures and acts of wrongdoings by both the MPS and MNDF stated in the CoNI and HRCM reports.”
Thousands have come out on the streets following the release of the report calling for investigation, prosecution and early elections. Over 100 people were arrested during protests on Thursday and Friday night. The police arrested one woman for calling ‘traitor’ while several were arrested for taking photos and videos. One of them a minor, was arrested and the court extended detention for 15 days on house arrest “for his father being a politician.”
Local NGO Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) who has observed the protests stated “we are deeply concerned about the actions of police” for “barricading and closing down roads ahead of time and obstructing protestors’ ability to assemble (in areas permitted by the Law); preventing the video and photo documentation of protests by stopping those who do so and ordering them to delete their photos and videos; though the regulations regarding the uniform of the police may permit them to cover up their faces during certain circumstances, at the least not having a service number visible on their uniform (which could be utilised to identify individual police officers); using inappropriate language when dealing and communicating with the protestors”
The MDP is also concerned for Dr. Waheed’s decision to continue to be intolerant towards Raajje TV, the only television station that strongly criticises the government actions. On Thursday, RTV was not allowed to cover the press conference held in the President’s Office. Additionally, RTV was not permitted to cover the press briefing by Dr.Waheed prior to his departure on an official visit to China. RTV reports that they are not invited to any of the press briefings by the Maldives Police Services.
While many MDP supporters are currently appearing before courts, possibly facing long-term prison sentences – often on trumped-up charges of “terrorism”, it is an unavoidable fact that not one police officer, or army officer, has yet to face charges or even a disciplinary hearing for their crimes.
Hamid Abdul Ghafoor
Spokesperson, International Affairs