JP leader Gasim returns to Maldives

Gasim Ibrahim, the leader of Jumhooree Party (JP) returned to Maldives today after the government removed a freeze on his Villa Group accounts over an alleged unpaid fine of US$90.4million.

Gasim spent nearly three months abroad, during which he announced he will resign from politics after his term as Maamigili MP expires in 2019. He has now pledged to hand over the reigns of the JP to new leaders.

“Gasim did not mention any particular reason for coming back. But I note there isn’t any reason for him not to come back,” JP spokesperson Ali Solih said.

The JP split from the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) coalition in January and allied with the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) in an anti-government campaign. MDP leader and former president Mohamed Nasheed was subsequently arrested and imprisoned on terrorism charges and Gasim’s Villa Group was slapped with a US$90.4million fine.

The Villa Group maintains the fine is unlawful. However, the JP and the government said they have reached an agreement on paying the fine.

Local media reported that the police had issued an arrest warrant for alleged funding of a historic anti-government protest on May 1. He was also accused of involvement in a plot to assassinate President Abdulla Yameen during the trial of ex defence minister Mohamed Nazim on weapons smuggling charges in March.

Explaining Gasim’s silence on Nasheed and Nazim’s sentencing, JP deputy leader Ameen Ibrahim said the government had “economically – paralyzed” Gasim. Since then, Ameen and JP council member Sobah Rasheed were both arrested and charged with terrorism. The pair have now fled the country.

Gasim was first in Bangkok, and later in Frankfurt.

MDP chairperson Ali Waheed, who was arrested along with Ameen and Sobah, tweeted a photo of Gasim’s arrival at the Malé airport saying: “The picture says it all. This is not fair. President Yameen should remember a time will for others as well”.

He further said the government had forced Gasim to sacrifice his political career

Waheed is in the UK.

While Gasim was abroad, he backed several government proposals, including a constitutional amendment that will disqualify him from running in the 2018 presidential elections.

The amendment sets new age-limits of 30-65 years for the presidency. Gasim will be 66 in 2018.

The JP accepted President Abdulla Yameen’s invitation for talks without conditions. The JP and the government have held two meetings so far. Talks are ongoing between the MDP and the government now.


On social media, an outpouring of support for ex university vice chancellor

The resignation of Dr Hassan Hameed, the vice chancellor of the Maldives National University, has elicited an outpouring of support on social media and a campaign requesting President Abdulla Yameen to re-appoint him to the university board.

Hameed resigned on Thursday in the wake of amendments to the national university law that authorizes the president to appoint nine members to the 13-member governing council, including the chancellor and the vice chancellor.

The president could previously only appoint the chancellor who also heads the governing council.

Hameed had served at the university and the former Maldives College of Higher Education since 1998. He was elected for the position of vice chancellor in 2011.

In a letter to all the staff at the MNU on Saturday, Hameed said he had submitted his resignation on Thursday and asked them to support new appointments to the board. “17 years is a long time in one’s life. If I’ve offended any of you, I wish for your generous forgiveness,” he said.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party has warned that the changes will compromise the MNU’s independence and politicize the institution.

Officials will be hired and dismissed for political reasons if the institution is politicized, the MDP said, and pave the way for the “misuse of the university’s students, employees, and resources to achieve political purposes.”

On Saturday, a supporter started a Facebook Page calling on President Yameen to reinstate Dr Hameed. The “Dr. Hassan for MNU” has gained 1,641 supporters in one day.

“When the university bills were passed by the parliament, I was concerned that Dr. Hassan may not be the choice of the president of at least, that is the rumor I’ve heard. I thought it might not be in the best interest of the nation to be deprived of his service. He is one of the few individuals who have a vision for the advancement of this country in the field of science and engineering in particular, not to mention his passion for the university’s development,” said Ahmed Hussein, who had started the page.

“I would like to respectfully request the president and anyone who is involved in making this decision to seriously consider Dr. Hassan’s invaluable service to the nation and to let him continue to serve the people. There is no replacement for him,” he added.

Hameed was not available for comment at the time of going to press.

He did not state the reasons for his resignation, but many supporters on social media suggested Hameed was forced to resign. Some pro-government supporters, meanwhile, accused him of treating the university “like his home.”

One supporter said: “Another sad day for democracy since the vice chancellor of the nations only university who was democratically elected to the post had to leave because of government sponsored changes to remove autonomy.”

Students and teachers at the university described Hameed as visionary and humble.

Aishath Ali, the registrar at MNU, said Hameed was the first to come into the office and the last to leave. “The people who are closest to him are the security guards, the laborers, those who cannot do anything for him. Despite his great knowledge and high position, he is very humble and down to earth.”

Many supporters said Hameed had turned down ministerial jobs to stay at the MNU. One commenter said he had introduced undergraduate degrees and later postgraduate when “so many people told him this was not possible in a small country like the Maldives.”

Another former employee said: “He supported everyone and had a smile on his face. I like his way of critically thinking on every aspect of what may happen. Learnt a lot from Dr. Hassan Hameed.”

The former minister of Islamic affairs Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari and the minister of youth and sports, Mohamed Maleeh Jamal, said Hameed’s resignation was a loss to the nation.

A former student, Jaleel Ahmed said: “He brought changes to teaching style in Majeedhiyya [a high school in Malé], during the 80s and 90s when he was teaching physics. As a result, many students were able to think on their own, which has resulted in great academic achievements.”


10 men arrested on charges of forcing children into prostitution

Ten men have been arrested in Fuvahmulah on suspicion of drugging, blackmailing, and forcing children into prostitution.

The ten suspects were taken into custody with arrest warrants between 4:00pm and 2:00am yesterday, the police said.

The Fuvahmulah magistrate court has since ordered the suspects to be held in remand detention for 15 days. The suspects included three men aged 22, two men aged 21 and a 55-year-old, 50-year-old, 41-year-old and 32-year-old.

A special investigation team from the family and child protection department together with the Fuvahmulah police station are investigating the case in the southern atoll.

The police did not reveal any further details.

According to CNM, the police began investigating the case upon learning that a 16-year-old victim of the prostitution ring was pregnant.

The Fuvahmulah hospital had alerted the police and the gender department last week, prompting an immediate investigation on the island.

More underaged girls were among the victims of the prostitution ring, including a 14-year-old girl who is reportedly the daughter of the one of the 10 suspects.

The girls were tricked into using drugs and filmed naked, CNM reported. The men threatened to leak the videos and blackmailed the minors.

The 10 suspects in custody include a guesthouse owner, businessmen, political party activists, and persons with criminal records.

In February 2014, seven men were arrested from the island of Thinadhoo in Gaaf Dhaalu atoll on suspicion of forcing a 16-year-old girl into child prostitution.

In the first official acknowledgement of child prostitution in the Maldives, then-Gender Minister Azima Shukoor revealed in May 2013 that children were “being used as sex workers, where the children are sent to places as a means to pleasure people and to gain an income from such a trade.”

In June 2013, multiple sources told Minivan News that child prostitution was prevalent in the country, ranging from male benefactors grooming children with ‘gifts’ to parents actively exploiting their children.

A study focusing on Laamu atoll conducted by Consultant Clinical Psychologist Maldives Institute for Psychological Services, Training & Research (MIPSTAR), Dr Aishath Ali Naaz, showed that child prostitution was so “common” among minors that it was considered a normal activity.

She identified a “gradual process” of minors being “groomed” by adults via the internet and/or social media, with children taken to known “spots” and introduced to those involved in the sex trade.

In other instances, the minors are pushed to provide nude photos, and then emotionally blackmailed with threats that the pictures will be posted on the web, and ultimately recruited into prostitution.

Almost one in seven children of secondary school age in the Maldives have been sexually abused at some time in their lives, according to an unpublished 2009 study on violence against minors.

The rate of sexual abuse for boys was at 11 percent while the figure for girls were almost twice as high at 20 percent.


Police disrupt MDP feast

The police stopped and cleared out a gathering by supporters of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) outside its main office in Malé last night.

The MDP had set up tables with food for a communal tharavees feast, a traditional gathering during Ramadan.

A police media official told Minivan News that the police moved to clear the area around 10:30pm because the party did not seek permission from the housing ministry to close the road.

But the MDP said in a statement today that the police were notified ahead of the gathering and that traffic was not blocked as tables were set up near the pavement on Sosun Magu.

“But a disproportionately high number of police officers suddenly went into the tharavees function, threw away the food and drinks on the table to the street, took away the tables, and pepper sprayed the people there,” the party said.

The police media official said the use of force was prompted by “disobedience to order.”

The MDP meanwhile condemned the police’s “unlawful actions” and called on oversight bodies to investigate the incident.

The police had not stopped a gathering held at the same area by the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) during Ramdan, the party said, “which shows the extent of the police’s illegal discrimination.”

The ruling party had set up chairs and tables in the middle of the road, the MDP noted.

The party believes “police are discriminating and carrying out unlawful actions so openly because of the weakness and toothlessness of the Maldives’ independent institutions or because of the extent of the institutions’ participation in the illegal activities,” the statement added.

MDP spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy told Minivan News that the police’s justification for disrupting the festive feast is “complete nonsense”.

He noted that the road was closed for the PPM gathering in the same area earlier this month.

“As usual we had informed the police about the gathering. We keep seeing that rules only apply to us,” he said.


Comment: Did former Maldives leader receive a fair trial?

This comment piece by Toby Cadman was first published on Al-Jazeera. Republished with permission.

Cadman is an international lawyer and is currently advising the government of the Republic of Maldives on legal and constitutional reform. In particular, he is assisting the government in responding to the allegations made to the UN by former President Mohamed Nasheed concerning his conviction for an offence of terrorism.  

On March 13, the former president of the Republic of Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, was convicted of terrorism. He was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment for ordering the army to arrest and detain the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdullah Mohamed. It was alleged that Abdullah was abducted by the army without any lawful order, held incommunicado for 72 hours, and then detained for a further 21 days in a military establishment.

There was national and international outcry at such an unprecedented attack on the judiciary, including statements from the United Nations terming the detention of the judge as arbitrary and in breach of international law.

It has been argued that Nasheed’s actions don’t qualify as terrorist acts. However, if similar actions had been conducted in the United Kingdom, the former president could have been charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment – an offence which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Political turmoil

Regardless of whether or not he was at one point a head of state, all persons – irrespective of political office or other affiliation – should be brought to justice where there is credible evidence to demonstrate that a criminal offence has been committed.

Mohamed Nasheed was elected as president in 2008. While in office, political turmoil erupted. It is believed that he ordered the locking-up of the Supreme Court and ordered Judge Abdullah to be placed under arrest by the army.

Nasheed resigned live on national television, but less than 24 hours later, alleged that he had resigned under duress. An independent inquiry carried out by the Commonwealth, and observed by the UN, concluded that he had resigned voluntarily and that the transfer of power was lawful and constitutional. Therefore, his fall from power cannot be characterised as a coup.

During the former president’s trial, it was alleged that he had ordered the the abduction of a senior judge to prevent him from carrying out his judicial function.

In a BBC Hardtalk interview after his resignation, Nasheed stated in very clear terms that the judge had to be removed and that as president, in the absence of anyone else acting, he had to do it. The judge, in the former president’s words, was becoming a nuisance.

The targeting of the judiciary in such a way by the Executive cannot be accepted in any democracy and such an attack can only be construed as an attack on the constitution.

Allegations of flaws in trial  

It has been argued by the former president and his legal team that there were significant flaws during his terrorism trial and that, as a result, his detention is arbitrary and in breach of international law.

However, rather than appeal the verdict, his legal team filed a communication with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. The government has been given until July 11 to respond to the allegations and a decision is expected in September.

The former president is arguing that arrest was unlawful, his trial rushed, and the composition of the panel of judges lacked the requisite independence and impartiality. There have also been allegations that the conditions of his detention breach his human rights.

Ordinarily, many of these matters would be subject to legal challenge through the national courts. However, the former president has elected not to appeal. Contrary to statements issued to date, it is the government’s position that the former president has not been prevented from appealing – he has chosen not to do so.

It is clear that in a politically charged case such as this, the media reporting can take a sensationalist and selective approach. It is essential that what is reported is accurate and balanced as the stakes are extremely high.

Prevention of an appeal 

Much has been made of the fact that Maldivian legislation was amended so as to reduce the time period for the lodging of an appeal from 90 to 10 days, thus alleging that Nasheed has been prevented from appealing.

He has not. The Maldivian authorities have repeatedly maintained that the former president is still able to submit an application for appeal and that it will be for the courts to consider. It is also important to note that the deadline for submitting an appeal within 10 days relates to a notice of appeal, not the full appeal.

It has been further alleged that the former president has been prevented from appealing through the court’s wilfully withholding of documents which are necessary for filing an appeal notice. However, the court records will clearly demonstrate that the judgement of the court and the trial record was provided to the former president and his legal team.

He refused to sign the court record. Notwithstanding this refusal and the expiration of the 10-day deadline, there is a provision in the law for a defendant to submit a late appeal if the delay has been caused by the authorities. Furthermore, there is a provision in the law for the courts to accept a late appeal “in the interests of justice”.

The conditions the former president was purportedly being forced to endure have been called into question. Again, these accusations of unfair or unlawful treatment are wholly false.

Underlying risk  

He was held, up until his recent release on house arrest, away from the general population. However, he is not and has never been in solitary confinement, and was detained in a facility that would not only meet international standards of practise, but arguably far exceed any acceptable level.

As a former president, he is entitled to VIP treatment in custody, which he received up until his release under house arrest.

There is an underlying risk underlining this entire court process – the potential of a trial by media. As with all cases, there are two sides to any argument, but the government’s position has not been given any attention and the offence for which the former president was convicted has been unnecessarily trivialized.

There is a clear obligation on all, be it members of the media, or members of the international community, to acknowledge both positions in relation to any case, and not seek to favour one when the issue is yet to be fully considered and determined by the appropriate tribunal.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to


Government responds to UN on ex-president’s terrorism trial

The Maldivian government, responding to the UN working group on arbitrary detention today, contended that a terrorism conviction against former president Mohamed Nasheed was not politically motivated and said allegations over lack of due process are factually incorrect.

Nasheed’s family had lodged a petition with the UN in April requesting a judgment declaring the opposition leader’s detention illegal and arbitrary. The government was asked to respond before the first week of July.

“Mr Nasheed has not been a victim of a politicised process. He has been properly charged and faced trial for an extremely serious offence, one that was aimed at interfering with an independent judiciary and circumventing the rule of law. The law cannot be applied selectively,” said Ahmed Shiaan, the ambassador of the Maldives to Belgium.

Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail over the military’s detention of the criminal court chief judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

Shiaan and Toby Cadman, a barrister and partner at London-based Omnia Strategy, delivered the response to the UN in Geneva today.

Cadman said any lapses in due process were not “so serious individually or collectively so as to render the entirety of the proceedings a flagrant denial of justice. And thus render the former president’s detention arbitrary. Moreover, it is important to note that any of the irregularities, actual or perceived, are capable of being addressed on appeal.”

The 19-day trial was criticized by foreign governments and UN rights experts. The UK Prime Minister David Cameron, the EU parliament and high profile US senators have called for his immediate release.

Omnia Strategy, a London-based law firm chaired by Cherie Blair, the wife of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, was employed for an undisclosed fee to write the response.

Nasheed was transferred to house arrest in late-June in exchange for opposition backing on a constitutional amendment that will allow President Abdulla Yameen to replace his deputy. Talks are now ongoing between the Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party and the government.


Speaking to the press in Geneva, Shiaan contended Nasheed’s petition to the UN was an attempt to divert attention from his “abduction” of a sitting criminal court judge.

Nasheed’s lawyers have argued that the trial was rushed and that the criminal court had withheld trial records to block an appeal. Lawyers have also raised concern over the denial of legal counsel at some hearings.

Shiaan, however, said the allegations are factually incorrect and a mischaracterization of reality.

Cadman stressed the trial was “conducted under a process recognized under national and international law” and “not arbitrary by any standards.”

“We are confident they will dismiss the communication by the former president in its entirety,” he said.

Cadman insisted Nasheed could still appeal his conviction at the High Court and denied that the criminal court had deliberately withheld trial records to block an appeal. Nasheed and his lawyers had refused to sign the records, he contended.

Admitting that Nasheed was not given legal representation at the first trial, Cadman claimed the process was legal under Maldivian law. The former president’s lawyers had later boycotted hearings, he said and suggested Nasheed refused to make use of opportunities provided by the criminal court to appoint new counsel.

Nasheed was brought to trial a day after his arrest. He wasn’t allowed legal counsel at first hearing with the criminal court saying it’s regulations requires three days to register lawyers for defendants. Nasheed’s lawyers later recused themselves claiming they could not mount a proper defense with the criminal court rushing the process.

Hearings were often held late at night. The verdict was delivered at 11:15pm.

But Cadman today insisted the trial was not rushed as no new evidence had been submitted against Nasheed.

All the materials had been provided in 2012 when Nasheed was first charged with ordering an arbitrary detention of the judge. “The only difference was the qualification of the offence under national law,” Cadman argued.

While the first offence only carries a few months in prison, the latter charges of terrorism carry at least ten years in prison. Nasheed’s lawyers argued they required more time to weigh the evidence in light of the harsher charges.

The opposition leader contends the criminal court had blocked him from filing an appeal within the shortened 10-day appeal period. The new provisions, dictated by the Supreme Court shortly before Nasheed’s trial commenced, are silent on accepting late appeals, his lawyers have said.

The appellate court, citing lateness, refused to accept an appeal of a murder acquittal filed by the Prosecutor General’s Office in June. The PG office told Minivan News the delay was caused by the criminal court’s failure to provide a record of trial proceedings within the 10-day appeal period.

A ruling by the UN working group is expected in September or October, Nasheed’s lawyers have said.


The campaign for the vice presidency

Vice president Mohamed Jameel Ahmed remains in London and will issue a written response ahead of his imminent impeachment as supporters of the tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb began a campaign backing him for the position. His appointment as the new vice president appeared momentarily in doubt this week

Adeeb’s supporters have been on the streets asking people to take a photo carrying a poster with the words “I support Adeeb for VP.”

The impeachment vote has not been scheduled at the Majlis yet. But Jameel was notified of the impeachment motion on July 2 and given 14 days to respond.

Rumors had spread this week that the Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the president of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and half-brother to President Abdulla Yameen, favored another candidate.

Gayoom today denied rumors he favors specific candidate in a tweet. “It is not true that I have a preference for a particular person to become vice president,” he said.

The appointment of a deputy is the sole prerogative of the president, Gayoom added.

PPM ally, the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA), also denied rumors its leader Ahmed Siyam Mohamed was interested in the position.

The parliament in late June amended the constitution to set new age limits of 30-65 years for the presidency and vice presidency. The amendment bars Gayoom, who is in his early 80s and has already served six terms, from contesting presidential elections.

The lower age cap makes Adeeb eligible. He is 33. The constitution had previously said that candidates must be above 35 years of age.

The move appears to have widened a rift between the Gayoom brothers. Gayoom’s son MP Faris Maumoon was absent from a vote on the constitutional amendment despite a three-line whip.

Faris’ absence led to a heated exchange on text messaging service Viber between the newly elected MP and Adeeb.

PPM MPs have publicly accused Jameel of incompetence and disloyalty. But the opposition claims Yameen is fatally ill and wants a more loyal deputy ahead of a major surgery. The government continues to deny rumors over the president’s ill-health.

Soon after the amendment to the constitutional amendment passed, Jameel suddenly left the country. He told the New Indian Express his impeachment is a constitutional coup.

Meanwhile, President Yameen, in a meeting with PPM MPs on July 7, reportedly said he does not trust his deputy and showed them Viber messages exchanged between Jameel and opposition politicians ahead of a historic anti-government protest on May 1.

PPM MP Mohamed Musthafa in a tweet subsequently said the president had shown them evidence that Jameel had been planning a coup.

In the messages, Jameel had reportedly asked a lead organizer of the protest if the opposition will support his takeover of the presidency if protesters were able to oust Yameen on May Day.

The protest had ended with the arrest of nearly 200 protesters in violent clashes. Some 20,000 people had taken to the streets in the largest anti-government action in Maldivian history.

Jameel was not available for comment at the time of going to press.

The PPM has secured opposition backing for the impeachment motion with 61 signatures. A two-thirds majority or 57 votes will be required to vote Jameel out of office.

The parliament has amended its standing orders to fast track the vice president’s impeachment.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) backed the constitutional amendment to make Adeeb eligible for the vice presidency when the government transferred jailed opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed to house arrest.

The government and the MDP have now begun talks, raising hope of an end to a six-month long political crisis.


With Chinese grants and loans Malé-Hulhulé bridge inches closer to reality

The Chinese government has pledged to provide US$100 million as free grant aid to finance the construction of a US$300million bridge between capital Malé and airport island Hulhulé.

The Chinese and Maldivian governments today signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) related to financing the project and the construction stage.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, finance minister Abdulla Jihad said that the Chinese government will provide a US$170 million loan at an interest rate of two percent. The remaining US$30 million will be spent from the Maldivian state budget.

“This is an important step to make the bridge viable,” Jihad said.

The MoUs were signed following discussions between the cabinet’s economic council and a delegation from the Chinese government about finalising the design and other matters.

The director general of the department of foreign assistance at the Chinese commerce ministry, Wong Yong Puk, signed the MoUs on behalf of China.

Jihad said official agreements on finance will be signed within the next three months.

The economic council has previously said the six-mile bridge will have six lanes and will span from Malé’s eastern edge to the western corner of Hulhulé, where the airport is located.

According to the housing and infrastructure ministry, the bridge will be completed in two years.

Under the second MoU, the Chinese government agreed to find a contractor for the project and to help the government operate the finished bridge.

During a historic state visit in September, Chinese President Xi Jinping said he hoped the bridge will be called “the China-Maldives friendship bridge” and would ‘favorably consider financing’ the bridge if the design proves feasible.

An agreement was meanwhile penned during President Abdulla Yameen’s state visit to China last month for carrying out the ongoing feasibility survey of the Malé-Hulhulé bridge project with Chinese grant aid.

In May, a team of Chinese technicians began drilling bore holes on the ocean floor to gather information for the feasibility survey.

The feasibility study has since been completed and handed over to the Maldivian government.

In a keynote address delivered at the opening ceremony of the 10th China-South Asia Business Forum on June 12, President Abdulla Yameen declared that Sino-Maldives relations are at an “all-time high” with the establishment of a cooperative partnership between the countries last year.


New national integrity commission will ‘cure PIC toothlessness’

The government has submitted a bill to replace the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) and the Customs Integrity Commission (PIC) with a single ‘National Integrity Commission’ (NIC) with greater powers.

The PIC, set up in 2009 investigates public complaints regarding police conduct, but cannot take punitive measures. It is only authorized to make recommendations to the home minister. The NIC, however, will have a wider mandate.

“We held extensive consultations in drafting the bill, especially with the PIC. They shared a lot of concerns, and the shortcomings in their current functioning is worrying. Although recommendations are given, there appears to be no compliance with a single recommendation,” deputy Attorney General Ismail Wisham said.

The new oversight body for the law enforcement agencies – including the Maldives Correctional Services and the immigration department – will investigate alleged violations of laws and regulations by employees, take administrative action, and forward cases for a police investigation to pursue criminal prosecution.

The commission can also recommend changes to regulations and procedures and assess the effectiveness of the law enforcement agencies.

“The NIC will cure the current toothlessness of the integrity commissions. There is really no use to a commission without powers. The new bill has provisions that will empower the commission,” Wisham said.

Fathimath Sareera, the chair of the PIC, was not available for comment at the time of going to press.

According to the PIC annual report for 2014, the commission investigated 141 complaints.

The CIC was established in January 2014. The commission investigated just one complaint in 2014, according to an annual report.

In a recommendation to reduce expenditure in December 2012, the parliament’s public accounts committee had advised merging the PIC and CIC to form a national integrity commission (NIC) with oversight over all state institutions.

Both the PIC and CIC have five members while the NIC will be comprised of five members. If the law is passed, the PIC and CIC will be dissolved and its staff will be transferred to the NIC.

The new commission will also take over pending cases. It will have the authority to form task forces, seek expert assistance from other state institutions, and summon witnesses.

The proposed law states that the five members must have experience or educational qualifications in five areas: legal affairs, governance or public administration, commerce or business administration, human resources, and the economy.

Commission members must also have a first degree and seven years of work experience and must not have parents, wife, husband, or children serving in a law enforcement agency.

The president will appoint members to the commission for a five-year term in consultation with the parliament. The draft legislation does not state that nominees must be put to a vote for parliamentary approval.

The president’s office said the bill was submitted to the parliament last week. The purpose of the new law is to strengthen the functioning of law enforcement agencies and lay out procedures and rules for investigating complaints.

Other independent institutions include the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, the Judicial Services Commission, the Anti- Corruption Commission, the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Auditor General’s Office.