Police arrest four men for abducting, drugging and gang-raping 16 year-old girl

Police have arrested four suspects for the abduction and gang rape of a 16-year-old girl in a guest house in Male last weekend.

The girl was grabbed by the men while she was walking down the road around midday on December 11, forced into a car and taken to a guest house, Head of the Police Child Protection Unit, Superintendent Ali Shujau told the press on Thursday.

She was drugged by the men and gang raped, he said, adding that the men filmed the crime.

The four suspects were identified by the Police as 20 year-old Azmeel Ahmed of Hithadhooge, Seenu atoll Hithadhoo, 25 year-old Mohamed Azum of White Sea, Seenu atoll Maradhoo-Feydhoo, 19 year- old Ismail Muneez of Maafannu Hiyama and 21 year-old Ahmed Nabeeh Moosa of Maafannu Fennairu.

They all were arrested withing 34 hours after the police were alerted to the crime. All the suspects have previous criminal records for drug abuse and assaults, Shujau added.

According to the police the family reported the crime after the girl went home and told about it. Police did not reveal how the victim reached home.

Shujau noted that the girl could not give a clear statement of the attack, although she identified two of them by their “gang names”. He also added that it is too soon to say whether the attack was directed to her.

A similar case was also reported in March 2010, when group of 15 men abducted, drugged and gang raped a 20 year old girl on the island of Hithadhu in Addu City.

Shujau had earlier told the press that police investigations have revealed that school children aged 14 to 18 were being lured to guest houses by adults.

Police found that minors were sexually abused at guest houses after being lured through the internet, he said.

The reported sexual assaults on young girls, women and even female expatriate workers, has been on the rise at an alarming rate this year.

Police confirmed on Wednesday, that they had arrested four men on accusations of attempting to sexually assault a 15 year-old girl on Nolhivaramfaru in Haa Dhaalu Atoll. The girl fortunately escaped with no injuries, police said.

In October, police arrested two men and a minor on suspicion of raping an Indian nurse working in the island of Gulhi in Kaafu Atoll.

In another attack in September, group of five men including the chairman of an anti-drug NGO allegedly drugged and raped a 15 year old girl on the island of Guraidhoo in Kaafu Atoll.

In August police also arrested five men on the island of Innamaadhoo in Raa Atoll for allegedly raping a 16 year-old girl. While in the same month, an Indian gynecologist working at Hoarafushi Health Centre in Haa Alifu Atoll, was also attacked by a group of masked men at her house in August. She fought with the men and was able to escape.

A group of five were also arrested in May, on suspicion of gang raping an 18 year-old girl on Maabaidhoo in Laamu Atoll.

A 74-year-old woman was brutally raped by an alleged 19 year old on Hithadhoo in Addu City. She had to undergo surgery after the incident.

A 2006 study by the then Ministry of Gender and Family found that one in three Maldivian women aged 15-49 have experienced physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lives, while one in five women in the same age group reported experiencing this from an intimate partner.

Moreover, one in six women in the capital Male’ and one in eight countrywide reported experiencing childhood sexual abuse under the age of 15 years.


Assistant registrar files complaint against Supreme Court

The former Assistant Registrar of the Supreme Court, Fathimath Latheef, has filed a case against the court in the Employment Tribunal accusing the court of unlawful dismissal.

According to her lawyer Mohamed Fareed, Fathimath was performing the tasks of a full Registrar prior to her dismissal on September 15.

Fareed claimed that the court did not give her termination notice prior to her dismissal and paid no compensation, accusing the highest branch of the judiciary of breaching the Employment Act.

He also alleged that the court decided to sack Fathimath following a complaint she filed with the Department of Judicial Administration, concerning the sudden transfer of her duties to a newly-appointed Secretary General – an individual who Fareed claimed was the wife of a Criminal Court Judge and member of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC).

“Because of the transfer, Fathimath no longer had the right to perform the duties of a Registrar, which was legally entitled to her under court regulations. She wrote to the judges at the Supreme Court regarding the issue, however the matter was not resolved,” Fareed said.

He also accused the Supreme Court of abusing its authority in appointing the Secretary General to the court, adding that the case had already been forwarded to the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC).

Deputy President of the ACC, Muaviz Rasheed, confirmed the case is now under investigation.

Minivan News is currently seeking a comment from the Supreme Court but the office was not responding at time of press.


Police arrest four men for attempted sexual assault of 15 year-old girl

Police have arrested four men on accusations of attempting to sexually assault a 15 year-old girl on Nolhivaramfaru in Haa Dhaalu Atoll.

According to Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam, the girl was attacked by the four men on Sunday night. The girl escaped the attempted assault with no injuries, he said.

Local news outlet Sun reported that the girl was attacked while “out on a date with her boyfriend” around midnight. The pair tried to escape but the girl was caught by the group and threatened with a knife to perform sexual acts.

The girl reportedly escaped from the clutches of her attackers while they were taking her to an isolated location in the island’s jungle.

This year has seen increasing reports of sexual assaults on women and children, including gang rapes.

In October, police arrested two men and a minor on suspicion of raping an Indian nurse working in the island of Gulhi in Kaafu Atoll.

In another attack in September, group of five men including the chairman of an anti-drug NGO allegedly drugged and raped a 15 year old girl on the island of Guraidhoo in Kaafu Atoll.

In August police also arrested five men on the island of Innamaadhoo in Raa Atoll for allegedly raping a 16 year-old girl

A another group of five were arrested on suspicion of gang raping an 18 year-old girl on Maabaidhoo in Laamu Atoll.

The Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) and the Department of Gender and Family Protection Services had earlier strongly condemned the recent “atrocities” of sexual violence against minors, women and persons with special needs.

In an earlier press release , HRCM noted that the prevalence of sexual violence against the most vulnerable members of society, such as the elderly, under-age children and the disabled has “reached worrying levels.”

“We call on the government, state institutions, political parties, civil society organisations and all citizens to work together with renewed courage to stop such inhumane actions, save the community and establish a secure environment,” reads the HRCM statement.

According to Sub-Inspector Shiyam, police investigations have revealed a similar trend in most of the sexual assault cases.

Shiyam said that the girls are were attacked after being “lured by their boyfriends or friends to an isolated location at late hours”. In some cases girls were “lucky enough” to escape from the perpetrators, although in a few cases they were gang raped, he added.

He urged parents to be “more responsible with their children” adding that it is not advisable to let girls hang around outside with their boyfriends at late hours.


Police summon protest organiser, Adhaalath Party President, for questioning

Police have questioned President of the Adhaalath Party, Sheikh Imran Abdullah, and Abdullah Mohamed, head of the NGO coalition  organising a religious rally on December 23, regarding slogans calling for the murder of “anyone against Islam”.

The slogans published on the website, 23December.com, were subsequently removed by the organisers who attributed them to “a mistake on the technical teams’ side.”

Sub-Inspector of Police Ahmed Shiyam told Minivan New that Abdullah and Sheikh Imran were summoned to the police headquarters at 1:00pm on Tuesday concerning a case under investigation. He did not reveal any further information.

However speaking to the press after police questioning, Abdullah and Sheikh Imran’s lawyer, former State Minister of Islamic Ministry Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, confirmed that police asked them about the slogans published on the website.

Shaheem said that slogans calling for murder were not on the website when it was launched, adding that the “content were manipulated by some people spying on the website”.

Abdullah who is the lead organiser of the the protest, also told Minivan News on Tuesday that they had not seen the slogans calling for murder until the day after the launch. “We corrected the mistake as soon as it was brought to our notice,” Abdullah said.

He said the slogans were earlier attributed as a “mistake on technical team’s side” after they identified some loop holes in the website security, adding that their “suspicions were confirmed” when the website was hacked on Tuesday morning.

The hackers replaced the website with green skulls and a statement reading “We’ll come out against you with machetes if you protest.”

Abdullah restated that the protest will be a “peaceful gathering” and they would ensure “no violence takes place from their side”.

However, he raised concerns over the attacks on their website and groups opposing the protest noting that “they might create violence during the gathering”.

Speaking at a Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) rally last night Mohamed President Nasheed has promised that should the protests target Maldivians, “The government and MDP will come out in defence of the people. We’ll not come out on the streets with the defence forces but with bare hands. No one can confront us on these streets,” Nasheed was reported as saying.

MDP national council has meanwhile passed a resolution today, to stand against the religious rally.

The resolution was passed with 45 votes out of 52 members who participated in the council meeting.


High Court backs Gahdhoo Court order for AG representative to appear

The High Court has backed a summon chit sent by Gaafu Dhaalu Gahdhoo Court to the Attorney General Abdulla Muiz.

Gadhoo court ordered AG Muiz to appear on December 11, stating that he had failed to send a representative from the Attorney General’s Office (AG) concerning a case filed by a person claiming state pension for a 13 year tenure at a 100 percent state owned company.

The AG however appealed the case in High Court.

High Court noted that the Gadhoo court had sent four notices to the AG requesting to send a representative, prior to the summon chit sent directly to AG Muiz on December 4.

According to the High Court, a recipient of the summon chit must appear in court,  however noted that the AG is exempted, under the article 133 (c) of the constitution.

The article 133 (c) states, “The Attorney General has the right of audience in all courts of the Maldives, and the State shall be represented in all courts by the Attorney General or by a person delegated by him, except for those matters deemed to be the 49responsibility of the Prosecutor General in this constitution”.

Therefore the court decided that the Gadhoo court’s summon chit cannot be terminated as it does not “force” the AG to appear adding that he holds the right to send in a representative.

According to the local media, the Gahdhoo Court Judge claimed that AG Muiz was  guilty of contempt of court and requested the Prosecutor General to take action against him, and said that no exemption would be made if Muiz defied the summons.

The court has the authority sentence a person to up to three months for contempt of court.

Attorney General Muiz was not responding to calls at time of press.


Government expresses concern over protest’s call for “slaughter and murder”

A coalition of religious NGOs and opposition parties organising a religious protest on December 23 have launched a social media campaign and website, which this morning contained a list objectives including to “fight against all un-Islamic ideas” and to “slaughter anyone against Islam”.

The website, 23December.com, was launched by the President of the Adhaalath Party Imran Abdullah and includes news updates on the protest and religious articles aimed at promoting the event.

The list of slogans published on the site initially included statements such as: “Today’s law is to slaughter anyone against Islam”, and a call to “take the life” of anyone who challenged Islam “regardless of their party affiliation”.

The calls for violence were subsequently removed from the website, but not before the government expressed “deep concern” that “some people are using religion as a tool to call for murder and violence.”

“They are calling for slaughter and murder,” said President Mohamed Nasheesd’s Press Secretary, Mohamed Zuhair, urging “relevant authorities” to take action.

The organisers of the protest have accused the government of conducting many activities “with the motive of erasing Islam from the country”, claiming that they were “left with no other choice but to protest to protect Islam.”

The coalition claims that 100,000 people will join the December 23 protest “to protect Islam”, and called on “all Maldivians to take part”.

The website includes a list of grievances concerning the government’s religious credentials.

Zuhair meanwhile rejected the accusations and said that the government had no intention of erasing Islam or introducing other religions to the Maldives.

He noted that it was Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) that had introduced the concept of freedom of assembly to the Maldives, and that the government will always “welcome the people to gather and raise their voices on matters that concern them”.

“But I am being informed this particular demonstration has been called for political purposes with a hidden agenda to topple the government,” Zuhair said.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam told Minivan News that police had received a complaint about the slogan on the website calling for murder. However, he did not comfirm whether police were investigating it.

He did not reveal whether police intended to take any special security measures during the protest.

Protest organisers said today that the slogans were uploaded “by mistake”, and insisted that the protest itself would be non-violent.

“It was a mistake on the technical teams’ side. We will take every [measure] to ensure the security during the protest and I assure that there will be no violence propagated by our side. It will be a peaceful protest,” Minivan News was informed.

Speaking to Minivan News, Former State Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed said that the slogan calling for murder was “not good”, adding that “Islam is a religion of peace, not of violence”.

He acknowledged that “There are things I do not agree with when it comes to the government’s religious policies,”  however said that he believed the President Nasheed would correct matters if the public called for change.

He noted that he was not playing a lead role in organising the protest, but said he always supported peaceful assembly to voice the concerns of the people. He added that people must only speak of religion based on the Quran and Prophet’s Sunnah.

The Maldives has recently come under increasing international scrutiny following an apparent rise in religious intolerance.

Police investigating a violent attack on a ‘silent protest’ calling for religious tolerance, held at the Artificial Beach to mark Human Rights Day on December 10.

Several monuments gifted to the Maldives by other SAARC countries during the recent summit in Addu have been defaced or stolen on the grounds that they were idolatrous. Islamic Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari has condemned the monuments while the opposition has hailed the vandals as “national heroes”.

Protests also erupted last month after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay spoke in parliament calling for the government and the judiciary to issue a moratorium and debate on flogging as a punishment for extra-marital sex.

“This practice constitutes one of the most inhumane and degrading forms of violence against women and should have no place in the legal framework of a democratic country,” Pillay said.

“The issue needs to be examined, and therefore I called for a countrywide discussion. It is much better if the issue is transparent and debated.”

Pillay also stated that requirement under the Maldivian constitution that all Maldivians be Muslim ”is discriminatory, and does not comply with international standards. I would urge a debate again on the issue to open up entrance of the constitution to all.”

The following day protesters gathered outside the UN building, carrying placards stating “Islam is not a toy”, “Ban UN” and “Flog Pillay”, and called on authorities to arrest the UN High Commissioner.


ACC rejects Gayoom’s accusations of political bias

The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) has condemned former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom for saying that the corruption can be eliminated by “saving the ACC from intimidation and influence of the government”.

In a rally organised by the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) on Saturday night, Maumoon forwarded a speech in which he raised concerns over what he alleged was an alarming increase in corruption in the past three years – alleging the top government officials are involved in bribery, fraud and abuse of authority for personal gains.

In a press release issued on Sunday, President of the ACC Hassan Luthfuee denied the commission had been influenced by the government or any other party.

“We have not faced any intimidation in executing the commission’s responsibilities,” the statement read.


HRCM marks human rights day with reception

A society with no respect to human rights will inevitably plunge into social chaos and economic decline, said the head of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), Mariyam Azra, speaking at a reception held on Saturday night to mark International Human Rights Day.

In the ceremony attended by President Mohamed Nasheed and senior officials, Azra noted that much has to been done in guaranteeing the rights given to all individuals, groups and societies.

Highlighting the increased physical, sexual and emotional abuse of children in Maldives, Azra said that the regulations have to be formulated to identify and protect them.

She also encouraged people to end domestic violence and the stigmatising of women, providing them equal opportunities in social, economic and political fields.

“The state also needs to provide better protection to people with special needs, ” added Azra.

She noted the importance of implementing a monitoring mechanism to oversee the rights of the expatriate workers, which currently accounts for one third of the total populace.

“The authorities need to monitor their living conditions before giving the work permit, as well during their stay here,” Azra said.

Minivan News recently reported a steep rise in human trafficking, which was calculated to be the second largest contributor of foreign currency to the Maldives at US$123 million.

In 2010, the United States’ State Department listed the Maldives second on its Tier 2 Watchlist for Human Trafficking, following a report that Bangladeshi workers were being exploited in high numbers by fake companies promising work permits.

Azra highlighted the need for the formulating the laws and regulations, to establish legal framework to follow the international declarations the government has signed, and urged parliament and other institutions to support the process. A report on the practice of human trafficking in the Maldives is pending.

Azra also noted that the commission had faced several complaints concerning the decentralised healthcare system, urging the government to ensure better health services in islands.

Speaking at the ceremony, President Mohamed Nasheed accepted that a lot of work had to be done by the state to ensure human rights, and reiterated the importance of investigating the torture of inmates during the former government.

He had earlier criticised HRCM for failing to conduct a full investigation of torture faced by inmates at prisons in the country.

Speaking at the ceremony, Nasheed also restated his position that human rights is not a strange concept in Islamic Sharia. Safeguarding the dignity of the human being was a fundamental obligation of Islamic Sharia as well, the President added. The punishments and rulings of Islamic Sharia were not inhumane, Nasheed said, claiming that confusion arose in interpreting those rulings.

He also said the Maldives had missed an opportunity to demonstrate “the nobility of Islamic Sharia” to the world, after it reacted “in a Jihadi spirit” to controversial statements made by visiting UN human rights chief Navi Pillay last month.


Sri Lankan men sentenced for illegally importing alcohol in Reeko Moosa’s car

Three Sri Lankan nationals involved in the case concerning the discovery of hundreds of bottles of cheap alcohol in a car belonging to Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Parliamentary Group leader ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, have been sentenced to one year in jail.

The Criminal Court identified the three men as Isru Priyankara Disilva Nufehevage, Niroshan Don and Muhaidhee Mohamed.

The four  men were arrested in February last year, while loading 168 bottles of whiskey and menthol gin into a car registered to Moosa, on the same day controversial liquor licensing regulations were unveiled by the Ministry of Economic Development.

Moosa, who was in Singapore at the time of the incident, has maintained that his driver was bribed and the bottles were planted in his car to attack him politically.

Moosa observed at the time that television station DhiTV “has been showing the incident non-stop for 24 hours.”

“The last time I was in an advertisement for a liquid was with my brother in a television ad for Sun-Up,” he said, suggesting that he should now be paid royalties for every bottle sold.

According to the Sunday’s ruling, the expats – including Reeko Moosa’s driver – told the court that the alcohol bottles were “gifts” and that some other people were involved. However, the ruling stated that they were unable provide any evidence to back their story.

Deliberating on the evidence submitted to the court by Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO), the court charged the three men for illegally importing alcohol to Maldives and sentenced each if them to one year imprisonment.

According to the Criminal Court, importing alcohol without a license from the Ministry of Economic Development is prohibited under article 5(b) of Contraband Act of 1975.

Although three men were convicted, the main suspect identified as the leader of the group fled during the police investigation.