Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz has claimed “certain” parliamentary select committees are purposefully attempting to discredit the police institution and tarnish its public image.
Riyaz made the remarks during a ceremony today to open a police station on Fenfushi in Alifu Atoll.
The commissioner said that some parliament members were attempting to harass specific police officers of different ranks in the name of “holding the police accountable”. He further said that such practices are not accepted in modern democratic states.
“Some parliamentary committees are very clearly trying to discredit the [police] institution. That is not something I will accept,” he said.
Riyaz said it was the parliament’s ‘241 Committee’ to which the police should be accountable.
“The constitution clearly states that the police should be accountable to parliament’s ‘241 committee’. I have discussed this with several legal practitioners. They also say that police should be accountable to the said committee. Last week, we have requested advice from the attorney general on this issue,” he said.
Riyaz’s comments come at a time where Parliament’s Executive Oversight Committee (EOC) – which has an opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) majority – has again sent a notice requesting the commissioner appear before the committee.
Previously, he was summoned before the EOC over a leaked video showing the death of a bystander after police attempted to stop a speeding motorcycle suspected of being driven by thieves to flee a crime scene.
Commissioner Riyaz also contended that the police were working independently and “without any political influence” stating that he had never seen a police institution as independent as his in the last two governments.
“I have been in this field for almost 24 years. During my time, I have never seen a more independent police institution than the current one, where police are allowed to carry out their operations independently and free from political influence,” he said.
Speaking to Minivan News, EOC member MP Ahmed Easa dismissed Riyaz’s claims, stating that police had already lost the public’s respect and the confidence once held in the institution, and that there was “no point Riyaz talking about it now.”
“The police lost credibility among the public the day they came out on the streets, toppled an elected democratic government and brutalised the people they were supposed to defend and uphold,” Easa said.
According to the Kendhikulhudhoo MP, the police, especially Special Operations (SO) officers, had become a “mob gang” instead of a respectable police force.
“The SO police now come out on the streets with the sole intention to torture people. They possess dangerous objects which could seriously harm a civilian. We have got video footage to support this claim,” he said.
Easa suggested that parliament’s Privileges Committee look into Riyaz’s “defamatory” comments against parliament and take prompt action on the matter.
He also contended that the EOC had the mandate to summon any individual from the executive branch for questioning, and that this was very clearly mentioned in the parliament’s regulations and the constitution.
“If he does not believe what has been clearly set out in the laws of this country, that means he is no longer fit to be the commissioner of police. He should be listening to the attorney general, not just a bunch of lawyers who tells him things the way he wishes to hear,” Easa said.
Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz, Parliament’s Counsel General Fathimath Filza and Parliamentary Speaker Abdulla Shahid were not responding to calls at time of press.