MNDF and govt register joint venture for investment including tourism

With plans to generate revenue to fund welfare services for the armed forces, the government and Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) has registered a joint venture company aiming to invest  in various businesses, including the tourism industry.

The “MNDF Welfare Company” registered at the Economic Ministry on Tuesday, is 10 percent government owned, and 90 percent by Sifco, MNDF ‘s cooperative society, which provides welfare services for defense force officers and their families,  including subsidised products and loans.

Speaking to Minivan News about the company, MNDF Spokesperson Major Abdul Raheem said the MNDF have been discussing the idea of expanding the cooperative society’s works through a registered company over the past 10 years.

He observed that the main objective of registering the company was to invest and run businesses, which can subsequently generate revenues to contribute to welfare services provided to the 7000 strong-armed force body.

“The allocated state budget is not enough to fund the welfare services. We are facing several financial problems. Therefore, our plan is to register the joint venture with the government and increase profitable business activities,” Major Abdul Raheem explained.

He added that the MDNF Welfare company was registered within legal boundaries, and the company’s board and other necessary decisions will be taken legally and without discriminating between any officers.

MNDF joining tourism?

Asked about the sort of businesses the company intends to invest in, the MNDF spokersperson responded that the discussions are underway and will be announced soon.

Local media Sun meanwhile reported that the company was targeting investment in the country’s main industry, tourism, and claimed islands have been leased for resort development.

Raheem did not verify these reports but commented: “It is hard to confirm specifically which business  it will do, but I cannot say tourism is not an option.”

Following reports suggesting the MNDF’ is venturing into the country’s tourism sector, government aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP)’s parliamentary group member Dr Abdulla Mausoom updated his twitter saying: ” SIFCO (of MNDF) & Maldives government venturing into tourism business? This will not promote capitalism, tourism or democracy!”

Mausoom told Minivan News that it was “not visible in many places” for military personnel to form joint ventures with the government and start investing in businesses.

“It is a trend observed mostly in communist states, where everything is run by the state,” he added. “This also seems to be going more in that direction.”

“However, my main concern is that the tourism industry is already saturated,” said Dr Mausoom, who has previously served as the Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation under Gayoom’s administration.

He explained the industry was already challenged by the excess supply of resorts, which he claimed had been approved for development without any proper plans.

While several resort islands are now under development at a time when several investors are going bankrupt in the industry, Mausoom suggested that it is “not a good idea for the state to increase injection into the sector through joint-ventures.”

“It may be legal for the MNDF cooperative society to go into joint venture with government and even lease islands without even an open bidding process under the law. However, just because it is legal it does not mean it is the right thing to do,” he contended.


“Come clean” on Grant Thorton’s US$10 million penalty fee, MDP tells AG Shakoor

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has asked Attorney-General Azima Shakoor to “come clean” over a US$10 million invoice from accountancy group Grant Thorton, contending that the charge was a result of the present government prematurely terminating its investigation.

In a statement released today, the MDP contested claims made by Attorney General Shakoor to local news outlets that her office received two invoices totalling US$358,000 and £4.6 million from Grant Thorton. Shakoor claimed that the charges were for legal advice provided to the MDP government, for which it had not even received a report.

She made the comments at a press conference held on Sunday after documents were leaked revealing that President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s government spent £75,000 (MVR 1.81 million) on advice from former UK Attorney General, Baroness Patricia Scotland, prompting opposition criticism against the spending.

She said similar legal advice had  been sought previously and specifically pointed out the Grant Thorton agreement.

The ousted former President Mohamed Nasheed tasked the UK-based accountancy group to uncover large amounts of state funds allegedly embezzled during Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s 30 year-old rule, several of which were flagged in the state’s audit reports.

Attacking the attorney general’s claims, the MDP claimed that the terms of engagement contracted with the UK forensic investigators was “not on a contingent fee basis” and instead, government had agreed to pay the fee as a percentage of the proceeds of the stolen assets that were recovered.

“This type of fee was used because a fee-paying engagement would have been too expensive,” the MDP contended.  “However, given that the firm was not charging any fees, the engagement letter that was signed between the GOM and GT included a penalty clause in the event the investigation was unreasonably stopped by the government.”

Under these circumstances, the party said, the penalty would include retroactive charges for the work done by the GT but also a fine for not proceeding towards a full recovery.

“Thus the invoice for the penalty fees was submitted to the government last month when the government decided to close the investigation rather than continue with the criminal and civil complaints that had been lodged in Singapore Courts,” the statement reads.

The MDP also contended the US$10 million penalty was a “small price” to pay in order to suspend the civil and criminal proceedings reportedly underway in Singapore over a suspected illegal oil trade worth US$800 million, which was allegedly undertaken by Abdulla Yameen – Gayoom’s half-brother – while he was the head of state-owned State Trading Organisation (STO). The scheme was alleged to involve the purchase of subsidised oil through the STO in Singapore, which was sold on through an entity called ‘Mocom Trading’ to the Burmese military junta, at a black market premium.

Yameen however has denied these allegations.

Nasheed’s Presidential Commission on corruption, which had been charged with investigating the STO case was disbanded – one of incoming President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s first acts in power.

Meanwhile, MDPs spokesperson for international affairs has also pointed out that Grant Thorton’s investigators have not submitted a full report because they might decide to litigate in UK courts to recover the US$10 million in penalty fees.

“I believe that GT has not submitted a full report on what it uncovered in stolen assets by the members of the dictatorship because they might want to litigate in UK courts to recover the penalty fees. Clearly, the work undertaken by GT revealed the illegal monies embezzled through the Mocom scam and the existence of secret offshore companies owned by members of the former dictatorship,” Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said in the statement.

“A criminal complaint was ready for filing in Singapore courts in February when the coup d’etat intervened,” he added, alleging that: “the old boys are back in power and the money swindling operations are ready to take off again.”

Following the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012 that saw the ousting of President Nasheed’s government, the case fell silent – despite the matter having been forwarded to the Prosecutor General’s office a week earlier, according to MDP.

However, the Prosecutor General Office confirmed the office had not received the illegal oil trade case for prosecution from the former government and therefore no one had been charged.

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


FAIM’s “Let’s Talk” initiative launches with discussion on sexual harassment and discrimination

When I started inviting people to join the launching session of “Lets Talk” program on Monday night, my expectations for the  turn out were not too unrealistic given the history of people’s poor participation in most social events organised by civil society.

Let’s bring at least 30 people, I told my friends at the Friendship Association of India Maldives (FAIM) ,who backed the concept of “Lets Talk”: a monthly forum with people from diverse backgrounds to have discuss various topics and issues concerning society.

So with the table, chairs, projector and coffee to keep people awake, FAIM was ready at Social Center seminar room, eagerly waiting for its first round of talkers.

As the clock’s hands ticked their way to 9:00pm – the planned starting time – only five or six people had arrived, of which most were the special invitees – officials from Labor Relations Authority, police and immigration. They were prepared to talk and answer any question the  participants had regarding the chosen topic: sexual harassment, abuse and discrimination faced by both local and migrant women working in Maldives.

I panicked. “What if no one comes?” kept dancing through my head. It was indeed a stressful moment.

“Why did you organise it, when people are not coming?” one person asked as I kept ringing the people who had promised to attend the event.

At one point, in a desperate attempt, I almost dragged in a group of women from the gym class next door, but of course they were quite busy with their aerobics.

Fortunately, however some more familiar faces showed. The talkers slowly reached 22. That was fewer than the targeted audience but delighted, I began with the introduction and ice breakers. Soon the participants were all actively engaged in the discussion.

Participants talking at the Let's Talk Forum

Local girls and ladies from Britain, the US, and Holland shared their experiences of being the targets of constant sexual harassment on the streets, and the “helplessness” they felt in such situations.

One female participant asked” “Are we to ignore and just walk away when they call us a “s**y b***h”,”beautiful tits” or ask us “how much?”.

They also complained of lack of police follow up, even after harassment cases were filed.

Though the forum attracted only one talker of Asian descent, the participants unanimously agreed that it was mostly Asian women working in Maldives who bore the brunt of sexual harassment.

A women from the Phillipines working as a resort rep who had talked to me prior to the forum said: “I always get teased on the streets. Mostly by young boys, but old men do it too. They whistle at me, pass comments about my body or ask me “how much”. It’s very difficult to walk on the streets when I know that people think of me as a prostitute. It’s very upsetting.”

Police officers present at the forum acknowledged the “seriousness” of the problems and encouraged the participants to report such incidents, offering assurances that sexual harassment cases would be taken more seriously.

Meanwhile, a more serious concern was raised: the increasing number of migrant women who are being trafficked into the country, exploited by employers, and often forced into sex work.

Responding to the questions on the subject, immigration officers admitted that the lack of legal provisions and non-existence of victim support mechanisms prevented the institution from protecting the rights of those women and other victims of trafficking. The only option was deportation or repatriation.

They explained that institutional efforts were  underway to help victims of trafficking, but without support from the grass-roots level, change was difficult, they said.

“We are witnessing the presence of mass xenophobia in the Maldives. There is a widespread hatred towards foreigners of certain ethnicities. They are not even regarded as human beings,” one officer explained. “We need to educate and create awareness to change people’s attitude.”

Meanwhile, few members from Indian community who participated also highlighted the suffering of Indian expatriates working in Maldives, of whom many are women, and who are being intimidated and exploited by employers.

Their passports are withheld, salaries are not paid and in some circumstances they are not even given the leave to attend the funerals of family members, according to one participant.

Foreign women (and men also) are harassed, mugged and threatened, one Indian participant observed, adding that “if such crimes continue, these women – who are working as nurses, teachers and doctors – will no longer come to the Maldives.”

Despite the low turn out, the honest discussion and sharing of experiences made the soft launch of Lets Talk program a “good start”, if not a success.

UK national Sarah Harvey, who participated in the forum, said: “It was really great that I got the chance to share my own experiences and listen to others as well. Foreign women are facing sexual harassment on a daily basis. It very upsetting and intimidating, and a lot of girls don’t feel comfortable walking down the streets because of it.”

“We are putting effort into adapting to the culture and following appropriate dress codes. I just hope that people recognise that,” the British writer noted.

She also added that foreign women would work in Maldives for longer if they did not keep having these horrible experiences: “It’s one of the major downsides of living here,” she contended.

Marketing director Sanne Wesselman, from Holland, described the forum as “a great effort”, but suggested that “It will take a lot more than these events to raise awareness of the problem.”

Wesselman is right. Following the two-hour long discussions and personal accounts of discrimination and harassment, participants were asked to write one recommended action to solve these problems.

These recommendations included; educating and encouraging a culture of respect for women of all ages and race, and through awareness raising programs, conducting sensitisation program for school students on zero-tolerance of racial discrimination and violence against women and girls. Suggestions also included establishing a helpline for women and girls to report abuse, exploitation and provide counseling advice on request.

Telecasting short advertisements promoting zero-tolerance of harassment and discrimination, hanging posters with such messages in restaurant and streets, and letting respective embassies, high commissions and consulates open safe deposit boxes to keep passports instead of allowing employers to retain the documents were also suggested, among other recommendations.

The Friendship Association of India-Maldives said the recommendations will be forwarded to the Maldivian government through the Indian Embassy, and the NGO will provide support with implementation.

The organisation is meanwhile preparing for its second session of talks, with the hope of attracting a large and diverse group of talkers.

The Friendship Association of India-Maldives (FAIM),is an NGO  jointly run by Indians and Maldivians to build a strong bond between the peoples of India and the Maldives through economic, social & welfare initiatives. Please write to [email protected] to join or support the organisation.


PIC statement “not authorised by me”: PIC President

“I did not authorise the release of the statement”, Police Integrity Commission (PIC) President Shahindha Islmail has said, a day after the police watchdog released a statement dismissing the reports of police brutality and use of excessive force against Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) protesters.

Ismail told Minivan News on Thursday that she did not agree with the point which said police had not used excessive force, and therefore provided clear instructions to revise the draft statement to include the unlawful actions of the police observed by the commission.

However, she confirmed that the statement was released on Wednesday while she was on leave and that none of her suggestions were included, except the point that the protests had turned peaceful since July 21.

“As the protests have changed, I told [the commission members], the time had passed for us to comment on it and it was not a good idea to release the statement now condemning the protesters, as it has a possibility of causing further disruption of the peace,” the PIC President observed.

The contentious PIC statement said that police had not used excessive force to disperse the consecutive protests held by the MDP since early July, and that those protests were only broken up following the “removal of police barricades by the protesters and use of loud speakers after midnight ,and attacks against police with coins, pavement bricks, marble, metal pieces, chili water and plastic water bottles.”

“I did not disagree with the points that the protesters threw water bottles and different things that the police. The main thing I disagreed with was the point that police did not use excessive force. From what I have personally witnessed on the TV coverage and is PIC investigations, it is very clear this is not the case,” said Ismail.

She continued, “There have been several occassions when the police obstructed the protests by putting barricades down, despite the fact that the protests were going on in unrestricted areas. This I believe is a clear violation of people’s constitutional right to peaceful assembly.”

Furthermore, she observed that the “police have been acting in a way it seems to provoke the crowds,” Ismail alleged.

“We saw police officers walk into the crowds [protest] several times. Sometimes, it is to bring the barricades taken by the proterstors or to arrest someone. But, some times it is without any reason. I believe it is a form of provocation from the police side.” Ismail explained.

She added that PIC observers had also witnessed police using foul language with the protesters and sometimes against them: “The police stop it once they realise we are commission observers,” she said.

Asked whether the release of statement reflected attempts by the other commission members to override her authority, PIC President responded: “I don’t think of it as overriding my authority, but they are are trying to undermine me.”

She further claimed that the statement was backed by the commission members who seem to be “biased in favour of the police”. She did not name anyone.

As the watchdog body of the police, Shahinda emphasised that PIC should not take sides between the police and the people, and must always prioritise the role of overseeing whether the police actions were within legal boundaries, and if not, provide instructions of what needed to be improved.

“When the PIC failsto inform police what needs to improved, the police officers who are acting unlawfully will see it as an encouragement to ignore the rule and regulations,” Shahinda contended.

Indicating that it was to late to retract the PIC statement, Ismail noted that the “damage is already done” and “police are likely to participate in further unlawful actions.”


Court fines Shafeeg for defaming Gayoom by publishing book on torture during his rule

Local historian Ahmed Shafeeg has been ordered to pay up to MVR 5000 (US$324) in compensation after the Civil Court on Tuesday found him guilty of defaming former President Mamoon Abdul Gayoom.

Gayoom sued Shafeeg for politically-motivated slander over a book he released in 2010,  in which he claimed that 111 Maldivian citizens were held in custody and tortured under Gayoom’s administration.

The judge ruled in favor of Gayoom in the absence of Shafeeg, noting that the defendant had failed to present himself or a representative to the hearings despite the multiple court summons and attempts by the police to bring him to he court.

Shafeeg has to pay up to MVR 5000 withing one month from the date of the ruling, as a compensation for the damages caused to Gayoom’s character, according to the court.

Chronicles of torture

Shafeeg, now 83, was held in solitary confinement for 83 days in 1995 together with three other writers, including Hassan Ahmed Maniku, Ali Moosa Didi and Mohamed Latheef.

Shafeeg contends that 50 of his diaries containing evidence relating to the deaths of the 111 Maldivians were confiscated during a raid by 15 armed men. He was ultimately released by Gayoom with without charge, and was told by the investigating officer to write a letter of appreciation to the then-President for the pardon.

During the launch of Shafeeg’s book, titled “A Day in the Life of Ahmed Shafeeg”, then-President Mohamed Nasheed observed that he knew the events chronicled by Shafeeg very well.

“Back then, from 1989 and 1990 onward, I spent a very long time – three years in total – in jail. Of that I spent 18 months in solitary confinement, and nine of those months in the tin cell,” he said.

All Maldivian rulers had employed fear to govern, Nasheed said, and he had always believed that Gayoom had him arrested and tortured to serve as a cautionary tale as the former president and his senior officials were already aware of the intent of “a whole generation” to topple his government since the early 80s.

“So the decision to put me through every imaginable torture in the world from the very beginning as an example to all those people was made, in my view, not because of any animosity President Maumoon had towards me personally,” Nasheed said.

He added that Gayoom alone could not be blamed for all the human rights abuses that occurred under his watch.

Nasheed meanwhile also described Gayoom’s decision to take legal action against the historian Shafeeg, who has lasting physical and mental damage from his ordeal, as “going beyond the limits.”

Nasheed said: “I ask President Maumoon very sincerely and respectfully, don’t do this,” Nasheed said. “Go to Shafeeg. Go and ask for his forgiveness. This is not the time to come out and say ‘I’m going to sue Shafeeg.’ If you want to sue Shafeeg now, you will have to sue me. That is because I will repeat what Shafeeg is saying fourfold.”

Together with allegations of corruption in Gayoom’s administration, such as those flagged in audit reports, allegations of torture remain one of the most politically divisive topics in the Maldives.

Since Nasheed took office after beating Gayoom’s 30 year-old autocratic rule in 2008, public opinions – very strongly held – oscillated between a desire for prosecuting Gayoom and his close allies for the torture and corruption and a desire to move on and reconciliation. Nasheed openly supported the latter option to be magnanimous.

However, after his controversial resignation on February 7, which he insisted was forced by an opposition backed military-police coup, Nasheed told Time Magazine that allowing former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom to live in peace following the 2008 election was a wrong decision.

“The lesson is we didn’t deal with Gayoom. That’s the obvious lesson. And my romantic ideas of how to deal with a dictator were wrong. I will agree with that,” Nasheed told Time, in a striking reversal of his magnanimity in 2008.

The court decision in favor of Gayoom also comes less than a week after the UNHRC called for the government to establish an independent commission of inquiry to investigate “all human rights violations, including torture that took place in the State party prior to 2008 and provide compensation to the victims.”


Patients to be charged at private clinics under Aasandha from August 1

Treatment from private hospitals and clinics will be covered under the “Aasandha” universal health insurance schemes  from August 1, with an agreed amount to be charged from people going to those clinics.

According to a statement released by the Aasandha Company on Sunday, private clinics are being included in the scheme after they agreed to a revised price list for health services with the National Social Protection Agency (NSPA).

The scheme will cover the treatments from those private clinics based on the revised price list, while the clinics are allowed to charge their patients to cover any additional costs.

“Therefore, patients will likely have to share the costs of outpatient care and other services,” the company adds.

The authorities have not revealed the amount to be charged, but State Health Minister and National Social Protection Agency (NSPA) Board Chairman Thorig Ali Luthfee told local media that the “charge will not be a burden to the patients.”

“In addition to what is being (covered) from Aasandha, they might charge a small amount from the patient. Once they agree to the price with us, they cannot alter that price,” Thorig told Haveeru.

According to Thorig, four clinics have so far agreed to the prices, and Aasandha services will be offered at the clinics as soon as the agreements are signed.

Price negotiations with several other clinics are still reportedly pending as over 60 private healthcare providers have applied for Aasandha coverage.

According to the Aasandha website, the scheme currently covers treatment from IGMH, ADK Hospital, IMDC Hospital in Addu and other hospitals and health centres currently operated by state-owned health corporations.

Thoriq observed that privately-owned ADK, the second largest healthcare provider in the country, will also have to confirm the revised prices agreed with NSPA to keep providing Aasandha services from next month on wards.

Under the parliament-approved scheme which commenced in January, all Maldivian citizens will receive government-sponsored coverage up to Rf100,000 (US$6,500) per year, including further provisions to citizens who require further financial assistance. Expatriate workers are also eligible for coverage providing their employers pay an upfront fee of Rf1,000 (US$65).

MDP’s critical response

Following the decision to charge patients at private health premises, the former ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) which initiated the universal insurance scheme, under its affordable healthcare pledge, contended that the government’s decision reflects attempts to “restore the tradition of begging to afford health care services”.

According to the statement released by the MDP, the agreement signed between Aasandha company and the government explicitly states that no amount can be charged from the patients.

“The agreement signed by the Finance Ministry, Health Ministry and Aasandha Company explicitly states that no amount should be taken in fees or as any other charge from the people,” the statement reads. “Therefore, we condemn the coup government’s attempts to charge people a fee for healthcare services.”

The party also accused the government aligned Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and coalition alliance of deliberately attempting to sabotage the health insurance scheme.

The MDP noted that while the party was in power it had regularly made the payments to Aasandha company as per the agreement, however, the incoming government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik had not made the payments, pushing the scheme to the brink of collapse.

Aasandha is a public-private partnership with Allied Insurance. Under the agreement, Allied splits the scheme 60-40 with the government. The actual insurance premium is paid by the government, while claims, billing and public awareness is handled by the private partner.

Aasandha Managing Director Mohamed Shafaz told Minivan News last week that the government had failed to cover weekly premium payments as agreed under the Aasandha contract since March 2012.

He alleged that while the scheme was continuing to run, the shortfall in state funding was creating some difficulties for service providers such as hospitals and pharmacies both in the Maldives and outside the country in the wider South Asia region.

Without detailing specifics, State Health Minister Luthfee said that the government was presently involved in consultations to clear outstanding bills. He added that a target of 30 days had been set to try and settle outstanding debts to creditors.


The spirit of Orange Day

Orange has always known to be a powerful color: it stimulates enthusiasm, creativity and symbolises vitality with endurance. It is also said be one of the healing colors.

So what other better color than Orange to show peoples’ solidarity in the fight to end all forms of violence, abuse and discrimination inflicted on millions of women and young girls worldwide in pandemic proportions.

Available country data reveals that up to 70 per cent of women experience physical or sexual violence from men in their lifetime – the majority by husbands, intimate partners or someone they know.

Among women aged between 15 and 44, acts of violence cause more death and disability than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined.  It is one the most pervasive human rights violation that is devastating millions  lives, fractures communities, and stalls development.
The violence takes many forms and occurs in almost all places – domestic violence at  home, sexual abuse of girls in schools, sexual harassment at work, rape by husbands or strangers, in refugee camps or as a tactic of war.

The Global Unite Youth Network, a group of over 40 young activists from around the world working to end gender inequality and violence against women and girls, launched its first action on Wednesday, 25 July: UNiTE Orange Day, under the UN Secretary-General’s campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women.

The young activists, including myself, decided to raise awareness about the issue of violence against women and girls and bring this pandemic to people’s atention, not only once a year on 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women), but every month.

The goal was simple: Generate interest and conversations about the issue, and encourage people to start thinking and talking about how to end violence against women and girls.

On the same day, the UNiTE campaign also launched the new UNiTE Ribbon as symbol for preventing and ending violence against women and girls. The mission is to make this symbol universal.

Therefore, through social media campaigns,the Global Unite Youth Network members, including myself, asked men, women, boys and girls, young and old in our countries to wear something orange on 25 July and wear the orange ribbon, together creating a historical global movement.

Orange Warriors from across the world

Following just almost a week of campaigning, on Wednesday, we witnessed the rise of several hundreds of “Orange Warriors” from beyond borders, nationalities and cultures, ready to stand up to violence committed against women and girls.

From Bosnia to Bangladesh, France to Sri Lanka, Thailand to Phillipines, US to Russia, Georgia to India – both young and old alike – joined the campaign, uploading their pictures shining with multiple shades of orange to social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

From the Maldives a small butspirited group of individuals also joined the campaign, including my family and close friends, colleagues at Minivan News and staff of UN agencies.

The island nation of 350,000 people gripped by widespread gender-based violence including domestic abuse, harassment and discrimination with every 1 in 3 woman reported to be victim of violence.

UN Staff marks Orange Day

UN Women Representative in Maldives Michiyo Yamada said violence affects not only women and girls themselves but everyone in a community and society. We all need to understand the gravity of the issue and show a commitment individually.

“It is very encouraging to see young people taking a lead to advocate to end violence against women and girls, as they are a key agent of change.” Yamada noted.

She added: “We hope everyone will join this campaign and say NO every day to emphasise zero tolerance to VAWG.”

Next Orange Day is scheduled for August 25th. Will you wear orange and Say No?


Civil Court dismisses ruling of own watchdog body against Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed

The Civil Court today dismissed a decision by its own watchdog body, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), to take action against Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdullah Mohamed for violating the Judge’s Code of Conduct.

An investigation into a complaint of ethical misconduct against Judge Abdulla was completed by a JSC special committee which recommended in the final report to the commission that action be taken against the Judge for violating the Judge’s Code of Conduct – specifically, by making a politically biased statement in an interview with DhiTV.

However, during the period given to Judge Abdulla to respond to the report, he instead obtained a Civil Court injunction against his further investigation by the judicial watchdog.

The JSC appealed the injunction on January 24 of this year, claiming that the Civil Court had disregarded the commission’s constitutional mandate which allowed it to take action against judges, and argued that the court did not have the jurisdiction to overrule a decision of its own watchdog body.

But the appeal was rejected, concluding that the commission had not provided the court “any substantial reason to terminate the injunction and that the High court cannot make a decision on the case while the case is pending at a lower court.

As the final verdict on the case came out today, the Civil Court overruled the the decision stating that Judge Abdulla was not given an opportunity to respond to the allegations during the investigation.

According to the decision, providing a chance to submit any complaints after the investigation is completed cannot be deemed as an opportunity for the Judge to present his defence.

Like all other state institutions the JSC must also be held accountable in front of the law, the court noted, addding that party who believes to have suffered damages due to a decision by the commission have the right to litigate  matter to protect his rights.

Furthermore the Civil Court concluded that action cannot be taken against the Abdullah under the Judge’s Code of Conduct, because the said violation predates the regulation.

Charges against the Judge

Apart from the ethical misconduct complaint, the JSC revealed that a total of 11 complaints have been submitted to the commission against Judge Abdulla Mohamed, among which are serious allegations of corruption and abuse of authority.

The first complaints against Abdulla Mohamed were filed in July 2005 by then Attorney General Dr Hassan Saeed – now Dr Waheed’s political advisor – and included allegations of misogyny, sexual deviancy, and throwing out an assault case despite the confession of the accused.

Among the allegations in Dr Saeed’s letter was one that Judge Abdulla had requested an underage victim of sexual abuse reenact her abuse for the court, in the presence of the perpetrator.

In 2009, those documents were sent to the JSC, which was requested to launch an investigation into the outstanding complaints as well as alleged obstruction of “high-profile corruption investigations”.

The JSC decided not to proceed with the investigation on July 30, 2009.

Former President’s member on the JSC and whistleblower Aishath Velezinee for several years contended that Abdulla Mohamed was a central, controlling “father figure” in the lower courts, answerable to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and a key figure responsible for scuttling the independence of the judiciary under the new constitution.

Central figure in Nasheed’s downfall

Abdulla Mohamed was also a central figure in the downfall of former President Mohamed Nasheed, following the military’s detention of the judge after the government accused him of political bias, obstructing police, stalling cases, links with organised crime and “taking the entire criminal justice system in his fist” to protect key figures of the former dictatorship from human rights violations and corruption cases.

Judge Abdulla’s arrest sparked three weeks of anti-government protests starting in January, while the government appealed for assistance from the Commonwealth and UN to reform the judiciary.

As protests escalated, elements of the police and military mutinied on February 7, alleging Nasheed’s orders to arrest the judge were unlawful. A Commonwealth legal delegation had landed in the capital only days earlier.

Nasheed publicly resigned the same day, but later said he was forced to do so “under duress” in a coup d’état. Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has taken to the streets in recent months calling for an early election.

Judge Abdulla was released on the evening of February 7, and the Criminal Court swiftly issued a warrant for Nasheed’s arrest. Police did not act on the warrant, after international concern quickly mounted.


“Crime is more important than party” says PPM, after suspected cop killer is revealed to be member

The crime is more important than the political party the criminal is from, the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) has said during a press conference, after it was revealed that the suspect arrested in connection to the murder of Lance Corporal Adam Haleem murder is a registered member of the party.

In the wake of police officer’s murder, government-aligned parties including PPM and cabinet ministers have vociferously blamed the ousted former President Mohamed Nasheed and his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) for the murder, claiming that MDP’s ongoing protests against the police in the capital Male’ provoked the attack on Kaashidhoo island.

The MDP have held consecutive demonstrations since the controversial resignation of former President Nasheed on February 7, who contends that he was forced to do so “under duress” amid a police and military-backed coup.

The protests often have led to multiple arrests and violent clashes between the security forces and protesters, with rising concerns of police brutality, torture and human rights violations.

However, in response to the accusations, the MDP released a photo of the arrested suspect Mohamed Samaah, 22, and a screenshot of the Elections Commission’s party registry showing him listed as a member of the PPM.

Local media reports said that Samaah, from Suvaasaage of Kaashidhoo, has a multiple criminal records including drug, assault and theft.

PPM’s Council Member Ahmed Saleem today contended at a press conference that “Party is not important. What’s important is the crime committed by the criminal,” after a reporter asked him to verify the claim.

“We have also heard people say that he is from PPM. But we have not checked if it’s true. The reality is that MDP members have been registered under other parties by mistake,” Saleem added.

“But, whatever party [the suspect] is from, no police officer or citizen should be attacked,” he noted.

Meanwhile, the MDP has also alleged that the suspect was a key supporter of Jumhoree Party (JP) MP Abdullah Jabir, who won the Kaashidoo constituency in the recent by-election with official endorsement from PPM.

The MDP  today released another photo with the suspect allegedly standing next to Jabir, while JP leader Gasim Ibrahim is seen nearby giving a speech.

Jabir’s wife Dhiyana Saeed, the newly-appointed Minister for Gender and Human Rights, is also pictured in the image.

Speaking to Minivan News today, Jabir rejected any possible links between the suspect and his party, accusing the MDP and media sources including Minivan News of propagating false rumours.

“This suspect has nothing to do with the JP,” he said.

Conversely Jabir said that the suspect had actually been working with MDP candidates at local elections, as well as being mentioned in a police report at the time for attacking a member of the JP’s own campaign personnel.

“There is evidence of this and reports of the incident with the Kashidoo police.  Anyone can check this,” he added.