The Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to the Maldives, Sir Donald McKinnon, has described the report by the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) as a “turning point for the country to leave the past behind and move forward.”
The report, focused on the events of February 6 to 8, claimed there was no evidence to support allegations by former President Mohamed Nasheed that he was ousted in a coup d’état, that his resignation was under duress, or that there was any mutiny by the police and military. It also urges action be taken against police for human rights abuses committed on February 6-8.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed accepted the report, subject to reservations, but criticised it as leaving the Maldives “in a very awkward, and in many ways, very comical” situation, “where toppling the government by brute force is taken to be a reasonable course of action. All you have to do find is a narrative for that course of action.”
In a statement, McKinnon said “The Commission’s report provides key recommendations on issues that need to be addressed to strengthen democratic practice in Maldives. I am heartened to hear the commitment of the government to take forward key reforms to strengthen democratic institutions.”
Home Minister Mohamed Jameel has meanwhile said responsibility for investigating and taking action against police lay with the Police Integrity Commission (PIC).
However President of the PIC Shahinda Ismail has publicly expressed concern over the commission toothlessness.
Article 44 of the Police Act states that any parties handed recommendations by the PIC can choose not to act on them if they inform the commission of the decision in writing.
“[Jameel] is not really bound by the act,” Ismail said, stating that this clause had already resulted in the Home Minister ignoring recommendations forwarded to him.
The PIC chair gave the example of a case involving police officer Ali Ahmed, whom she said had been adjudged unfit to continue to serve by the commission. Shahinda claimed the case had been forwarded to the Home Minister.
“I know for a fact he is still a policeman and was promoted after this incident” she said.
“It is really upsetting – a huge concern – for me that the police leadership is showing a trend where unlawful officers are acting with impunity. This can only lead to further violence.”
Amnesty International – which has published its own report into police brutality and human rights violations of February 6-8 – echoed Ismail’s concerns. The report was slammed by Home Minister Jameel as “biased” and “one-sided”.
“Government officials have frequently shrugged off their own responsibility to address human rights violations, saying it is the purview of the Human Rights Commission (HRCM) and the PIC,” said Amnesty’s researcher in the Maldives, Abbas Faiz.
“Without an end to – and accountability for – these human rights violations, any attempt at political reconciliation in the Maldives will be meaningless,” Faiz said.
In his statement, McKinnon urged that “Democracy is not just the responsibility of the government, but also of every institution and all citizens. Democracy is not a destination, but a journey. I hope that every institution, political party and individual citizen will make it their business to be part of that journey.”
The Maldives meanwhile remains on the agenda of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), the international body’s democracy and human rights arm. The matter is expected to be reviewed at the group’s meeting on September 28-29.