Members of the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) have told Parliament’s Executive Oversight Committee (EOC) that unlawful actions committed by police officers on February 6, 7 and 8 last year were criminal activities that needed to be prosecuted.
Parliament’s EOC is currently reviewing the report produced by the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI), which looked into the controversial transfer of power that took place on February 7, 2012.
The committee is also assessing the progress of institutions in following the recommendations stated in the CNI report. The committee on Wednesday evening summoned the PIC along with members of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) and Prosecutor General (PG) Ahmed Muiz.
Speaking to the committee, PIC Vice President Haala Hameed said that actions of police officers during the period of the controversial transfer of power amounted to crimes and should be prosecuted by the PG.
She claimed that the PIC had identified 29 cases of police misconduct, out of which cases concerning six police officers had been sent to the PG for prosecution. Furthermore, the PIC revealed that it had urged Home Minister Mohamed Jameel to suspend the officers immediately.
Hameed said the commission had failed to identify the police officers in five of the remaining cases while 11 other cases lacked supporting evidence. She also said the PIC was still investigating seven cases of police misconduct during the transfer of power.
“These are not disciplinary issues, but crimes. Aside from sending cases to the Prosecutor General, we also recommended the Home Minister suspend these officers, because of the delays in prosecution. We believe these officers should not be serving in the police,” Hameed said.
However, PG Muiz disputed Hameed’s claims, suggesting that the actions of police officers did not amount to crimes but were “disciplinary issues”.
“I am not deterred or afraid of carrying out my duty. I am not influenced by anybody. By the will of God, I will continue to carry out my duty. I would have sent cases to court if there had been sufficient evidence needed for a successful prosecution,” Muiz said.
“We did not investigate those cases as a disciplinary matter. Those are criminal cases. We investigated a crime,” Hameed responded.
When a committee member asked about the police officer Ali Ahmed – who was promoted twice after the PIC recommended he be dismissed from the police force and prosecuted, Hameed said Home Minister Jameel had given a “deaf ear” to the commission’s repeated requests.
Former Chair of the PIC Shahinda Ismail earlier revealed that officers the PIC had recommended for suspension were in instead receiving promotions.
“It is really upsetting for me, a huge concern, that the police leadership is permitting a trend whereby unlawful officers are acting with impunity. This can only lead to further violence,” Shahinda said at the time.
Meanwhile local newspaper Haveeru quoted Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed as saying that the cases of police officers which the PIC recommended be dismissed had been sent to the police disciplinary board.
Jameel said that the Police Act and the regulations made under the act were very clear as to how a police officer could be dismissed or disciplinary action be taken. He claimed that he would uphold the law and would not violate the Police Act.
“The PIC is an institution formed under the Police Act. I can’t simply remove a police officer simply based on a recommendation by the commission. That is why I sent the cases to police disciplinary board as soon as I got the [PIC]’s letter,” he told Haveeru.
Jameel also said that it would be an unfair dismissal if the court acquitted a police officer who had been dismissed prior a verdict being reached.
However, Hameed during the committee meeting, claimed there was sufficient evidence needed for successful prosecution of those officers which it had recommended be dismissed.