MDP condemns Maldives government’s callous indifference on increasing threats to journalists, MPs and members of their families


Reference: 12/08/2014
22 August 2014

MDP condemns Maldives government’s callous indifference on increasing threats to journalists, MPs and members of their families.

The Maldivian Democratic Party condemns in the strongest terms the Maldives government’s callous indifference on increasing and heightened threats to journalists, MPs and members of their families.

Grossly inadequate responses of the government of Maldives in relation to recent threats to journalists and MPs had resulted in the emergence of a climate of impunity, flagrant violations of human rights and a chilling effect on freedom of expression in Maldives. The threats being made against journalists and MPs not only represent attacks on the rights of individual victims and their families, but are also attacks on the people’s right to freely receive and share information and ideas.

The MDP reinstates that the profound concern and solidarity of members shall continue to be with the families of journalists, politicians and others who have suffered threats, pain and physical harm to their loved ones.

The Maldivian Democratic Party continues to be extremely frustrated, indignant and aggrieved by recent indifferent and callous remarks made by President Yaameen Abdul Gayoom on the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan, missing since 08 August 2014.

When asked by a journalist upon his return from abroad on 21 August 2014 about the progress of investigations into the disappearance of Ahmed Rilwan, President Yaameen Abdul Gayyoom had refused comment, saying nonchalantly that the Police and Home Ministry had already spoken on the matter. His refusal to offer any words of comfort to the family is seen as a concomitant lack of respect for people’s dignity and right to life in Maldives.

The MDP notes with concern that Foreign Minister Dhunya Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom’s statement on the matter a few hours after President Yaameen Abdul Gayyoom’s callous remarks are typical of prevarication in similar earlier cases and serves only to cover up for her uncle deliberately ignoring to address the concerns of the aggrieved family of Ahmed Rilwan and the government’s continued indifference in this serious case.

The MDP continues to be extremely concerned for the well-being of Ahmed Rilwan and shall make every effort to facilitate the work of civil society, media organizations and concerned authorities including the Maldives Police Service to find him.

The MDP notes it as ominous that no motives or suspects have been officially identified to date on threats and attacks made against a number of journalists and MPs as well as on the disappearance of Ahmed Rilwan.

The MDP notes with regret that the government has taken no action concerning recent abductions and release of allegedly irreligious persons and previous threats against journalists, MPs and the arson attack against private broadcaster Raajje TV.

Considering the deterioration of press freedom in Maldives, the climate of impunity surrounding attacks on journalists, and the reported statement of callous indifference from President Yaameen Abdul Gayoom, the Maldivian Democratic Party reiterates calls on all concerned authorities and as international well-wishers to urgently do everything in their power to prevail over the Maldives government to:

1. Publicly condemn threats, their alleged sources, attacks, and disappearances of journalists and MPs without prejudice and desist from spreading misleading information about journalists or MPs in question

2. Provide up-to-date, ongoing information about the development of investigations into threats against journalists and MPs and on the disappearance of Ahmed Rilwan, in the first instance to the next-to-kin and their lawyers, as well as to the general public.

3. Launch full, prompt, effective and independent investigations against threats, in order to bring both the perpetrators and the instigators to justice, and ensure that where there is a possibility of involvement of independent authorities or other government bodies with a conflict of interest, such an investigation be moved to a different authority outside their jurisdiction or sphere of influence.

4. Put in place specific measures to prevent the repetition of such acts of fear mongering.

5. Pay special attention to facilitating the work of civil society and media organizations regarding freedom of expression and protection of MPs and journalists.