Human Rights Commission alleges police intimidation of its staff

The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) has alleged that the police are attempting to intimidate commission staff members following the start of its investigations into what they maintain is police obstruction of the October 19 presidential election.

“The commission believes that what we are facing now is serious, unprecedented and unjustifiable intimidation from the police. We will continue the investigation, while also ensuring that we continue protecting every one of our team members,” HRCM member Jeehan Mahmoodh has told Minivan News.

Jeehan stated that, after criticising the police for acting outside of their mandate when obstructing the Elections Commissions (EC) efforts to conduct the presidential election on October 19, they have been facing what the commission believes to be attempts by the police to intimidate its staff.

Jeehan said that the police had requested the HRCM provide “complete details” of the staff members who witnessed the police’s actions outside of the EC on the morning of October 19.

“In the history of HRCM, we have never before had such a request, where details of individual staff are asked for in relation to an investigation. This just cannot be done,” Jeehan said.

“We responded, invoking Article 27 of the HRCM Act and informed the police that the commission will not compromise the safety of any of our staff members. We also explained that as this is an ongoing investigation we cannot compromise it by providing detailed information regarding the matter,” she continued.

Article 27 of the HRCM Act has two parts, with part (a) stating that, “No criminal or civil suit shall be filed against the President or Vice- President or a member of the Commission in relation to committing or omitting an act in good faith whilst undertaking responsibilities of the commission or exercising the powers of the Commission or the powers conferred to the Commission by a law”.

Part (b) of the same article says “The Commission can only be questioned or a suit can be filed against the Commission in court regarding a component in a report published by the Commission following an inquiry, should sufficient evidence be available to prove the component is false”.

Speaking out on human rights violation is our duty: HRCM

After Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz tweeted saying, “HRCM to seek information after findings revealed!!”, Jeehan’s response echoed the HRCM statement released following the police’s initial suggestions that the HRCM had not made a balanced assessment.

“This is definitely not the first time HRCM has made comments in the instance that we observe a breach of human rights, regardless of who the instigators are. If a human rights violation becomes apparent to the commission, then we have both the right and the responsibility to promptly share this with the general public,” she said.

“For instance, after the events of February 8, 2012, HRCM immediately made a public initial statement on the matter…The police are well aware this is the norm,” she continued.

“Putting it in a different context, let’s say the police see a crime being committed, and arrests a person red-handed at the crime scene. They don’t wait for their full investigation to end, and nor does their investigation end there. But since they saw it happen, they get to make a stand. Similarly, when it is evident that a human rights violation has been committed, the commission will take a stand,” she said.

October 19

Jeehan also spoke to Minivan News about the HRCM’s work on October 19, the date intended for a fresh round of elections after the initial September 7 poll was annulled by the Supreme Court.

“Our team – it’s full strength including the commissioners – was on duty by 5:30am on October 19, as we were ready to carry out election observation. We then received reports of police obstructing EC officials, and immediately dispatched investigators to the EC offices. Our staff spoke with the EC Secretary General Asim Abdul Sattar, as well as a number of police officers there. Thereby, our staff are witnesses to the events that took place that day,” she explained.

“HRCM Vice President Tholal was in charge as Commission President Azra was away on hajj pilgrimage. Tholal tried multiple times to reach the police focal point – incidentally the same as the focal point for the EC – Assistance Commissioner of Police Ali Rasheed by phone, and finally sent a text message. ACP Rasheed did not respond to even the text until nearly midnight,” Jeehan continued.

“Tholal then called the Acting Home Minister [Ahmed Shafeeu], who is in effect the oversight over the police force. He asked the minister, and I quote, “why have police obstructed elections?”. The Minister informed us that the obstruction is not a police initiative or decision, and that they are following orders after much deliberation. Contrary to some media reports, the Home Ministry’s statement did not deny our claims that we contacted him and got this response, but rather confirms it,” Jeehan said.

“Police did not act in their own accord”: Home Minister

A press statement of the Home Ministry reads, “As the letter sent by the HRCM to the Police alleging that the police obstructed the elections scheduled for October 19 reveals that when they contacted the Acting Home Minister via phone and asked him why police had obstructed elections, he responded that the police had not acted out of their own accord but on orders that they had received, this ministry feels we must clarify what happened.”

“On the 19th of this month, in a phone conversation, Vice President of HRCM Ahmed Tholal asked why the police had acted in a manner against the government’s statement that it will provide cooperation to holding the election.”

“In response, the Minister had said that the police had not acted on their own accord, and that it had been in accordance with the advice of the relevant government bodies which was based on the verdict of the Supreme Court,” the statement concluded.

Police asks HRCM to identify officers they spoke with on October 19

Jeehan said that the police had also requested the HRCM provide identification details of the police officers that the commission’s investigators had spoken with on the morning of October 19.

“This is information that the police must have. They ought to know which of their officers they dispatched there, and what they did in their line of duty. That was the commission’s response to them, shouldn’t they know who it was?” Jeehan asked.

Jeehan also said that the commission has requested the police to provide an incident report on the events of October 19, as well as copies of all communication they have exchanged with any other institution after the date of the initial annulled election.

“It isn’t at all like the police are claiming on various media. We are not asking for information after reaching a conclusion. We made that initial statement that police obstructed elections based on our observations, and the fact that our staff were witness to it. We are now conducting a procedural investigation of the matter,” Jeehan explained.

“Furthermore, we have asked for copies of any communication between the police and any other institution from beyond the date of the obstructed election for an investigation that is based on other additional information we have received. We cannot yet reveal the details of this as it may compromise the investigation, but it will be made public upon completion,” she continued.

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12 thoughts on “Human Rights Commission alleges police intimidation of its staff”

  1. (1) Riyaz is on the back-foot and is trying hard to lie his way out of this.

    (2) Fortunately, HRCM had its officials personally witnessing the events that unfolded and caught the police red handed in their illegal act of stopping the election.

    (3) HRCM is absolutely right in refusing to reveal the details of those employees. Why would the police want to know their identities except for very sinister purposes? It doesn't matter who they were. What matters is what they saw and reported.

    (4) It is also highly irregular for the police to demand from HRCM as to who they spoke to. The police should have full records of who went where on that day and who was in charge and what communications took place. They clearly have it, but they are trying to hide what happened to the best of their abilities now.

    (5) The police clearly breached the Constitution of the land and their is a penalty for that. That has to be handed down to those responsible. This should be a harsh lesson in order for these sorts of acts to be never repeated again.

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  2. This is dreadful.

    I take an alternative view. Rather than being on the back foot, it seems the police are even willing to threaten Human Rights Organisations. Do not be surprised if they even issue summons to police headquarters for all the HRCM staff.

    These actions are of powers that are confident of no threat from any quarter. They do not fear the UN nor India or even care about International opinion. They expect China to disapprove of any nation taking direct action. Any attempt of a UN resolution will be vetoed by China. India will not challenge china and make a unilateral attempt at intervention. India is out of the picture.

    Likewise they know they can suppress public unrest. If there are riots they use water cannon and pepper sprays. If the crowds become violent they will use plastic bullets or even real ones if necessary. They will impose curfews and restrict any public gatherings and arrest any groups of more than 4-5 people.

    There is nothing that can be done except withdrawal of labour in a mass and synchronised manner.

    There is nobody to help you, but yourselves.

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  3. I am reading and re-reading the above news article in total disbelief. Sometimes, I think I have not read it properly and that it cannot be true. The police actually want to obviously detain and harass the HRCM employees into recanting their evidence. These were the tactics of the KGB and STASI.

    The police obviously feel they are totally and utterly 'fireproof' . Of course, if they are ever brought to account they will simply blame that fool Waheed. His protests that the PPM/Gayoom forced him to do it will not be believed.

    I am seriously wondering whether or not he has fled.

    The Maldives is like a soap opera. Each and day there are more and more outrages against its citizens and democracy. It happens so fast it makes one dizzy.

    Is there a loose cannon in the Police or are they being specifically instructed by the NSC and in particular by Waheed? Is Gayoom directing from his bath chair?

    There is NO HOPE here of any right minded individual or organisation outflanking these criminals through any legal or moral channels.

    These channels are being eroded and undermined on a daily basis. Very soon there will be NO tangible opposition party (MDP) to challenge the PPM as they will all be in jail or the party will be deemed outlawed.

    This is truly dreadful.

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  4. @Private Tourist on Sun, 27th Oct 2013 11:14 PM

    "These actions are of powers that are confident of no threat from any quarter. They do not fear the UN nor India or even care about International opinion."

    I am not so sure. The reasons being:

    (1) If regime officials come under travel restrictions, they'll face huge hurdles. Imagine even an ASEAN travel ban. That'd bring all those Singapore trips to an abrupt halt. This will bring some very significant inconveniences to the regime and its officials who are all tycoons running their own private businesses!

    (2) Freezing overseas bank accounts. A very significant threat. Most of these guys hide their illicit money abroad.

    (3) Any action by the international community will be watched by travelers. The Maldivian tourism industry cannot survive on just Chinese tourists!

    (4) All of these things can spiral into a vicious negative cycle in pretty short order. Maldives is a near 100% import reliant country with a GDP largely dependent on foreign visitors. This is not a situation where you can play macho games with the international community. So far, the international community has been patiently advising not to escalate things further whilst the regime has been pushing its luck further and further. There'll come a breaking point.

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  5. And where is our president when this is going on? Oh! I forgot! Away on holiday because he doesn't want to be held responsible for the mess he helped create.
    The police is way out of line- just as it was under Gayoom's regime.Oh! Silly me. I forgot again! The regime is back too.

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  6. There is no human rights in Maldives. We have a commission for Criminal rights?

    HRCM never raise thier voice for the people who had not committed any crimes and they become active when a person commits a crime.

    I called upon everyone to form another commission called " animal right commission" since for HRCM , people become a human when they commit a crime.

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  7. @Ahmed Bin Addu Bin Suvadheeb
    A good argument.
    I can only assume then the JP/PPM are going for broke to totally destroy the MDP.

    That is, they know if there is a genuine election they are finished and subsequently their hefty incomes from the resorts will suffer by increased taxation or.. Even some resorts being nationalised. They are perhaps gambling that the tourist industry will recover once they have succeeded.

    I cannot see the International community freezing bank accounts for this level of autocracy, only if atrocities are committed. They will only place do not travel advisories if the airport and/or resorts become compromised through riots or strikes.

    I think the outlook is totally gloomy.

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  8. I saw this in Wikipedia regarding India and the Maldives.

    “Bilateral relations between the two countries hit an all-time low after the GMR row. Indian government froze its US$25 million aid to the island nation. Construction of a national police academy in Maldives has also been put on the back burner besides other infrastructural commitments that India had made to Maldives earlier. The ties between the two countries strained after the cancellation of the GMR airport contract, the largest single Indian investment in the island nation, but the real reason for New Delhi's anguish is said to be the anti-India sentiments being aired by some parties in President Mohamed Waheed's coalition”

    There is much International comment regarding the elections in the Maldives. The UN, UK, India and the USA have all expressed strong opinions. China however is conspicuous by its relative silence.
    China’s influence seems to be growing. It already occupies the highest building in Male and, yes, right next door to the PPM headquarters I understand.

    One can imagine the hardship if India ‘pulled the plug’ but I suspect this hardship would be short-lived and that China would ‘pick up the tab’. There has to be a reason why Gayoom/PPM/JP would court world condemnation and possible financial disaster by imposing what is now an almost total autocratic and dictatorial political environment. China has no problem with this as it too exercises a similar regime.

    India could interfere with the fish exports to Sri Lanka and elsewhere but China would open other markets. It would give aid to fill the shortfall. In supporting the Maldives, China stands to gain a massive strategic advantage politically and militarily. It would lease partial use of Gan and therefore have a base smack right between British Indian Ocean territory and the Gulf as well as placing it closer to East Africa.

    If you look around the world, China is tolerant and even supportive of Islamic countries and especially when they are in conflict with the West. The UN Security Council is a typical example.

    Gayoom and his underlings really have nothing to lose by trying to remove Nasheed from the Political Arena. If it goes badly wrong, they can throttle back and give concessions but only if The International Community cries “Chicken”.

    This was seen in the South Asia Monitor

    “Chinese established their embassy in Maldives last year just before the SAARC Summit. They also played an observer role in the Summit. Authenticate anonymous source at Maldives National Defense Force assures that Maldives renewed the defense agreement with Beijing before the Summit but had it covered with withdrawing Chinese Project in Huvadhoo Atoll.
    India was concerned about Maldives ties with China developing. Former President HE Mohamed Nasheed explains to Delhi, “India does not have to worry about China” and assures moderate diplomacy and relationship. India became Nasheed’s right hand with Indian GMR on the scene.”

    Therefore it is in “someones” interests for Nasheed to be prevented from being President.

    For this is what is happening here. It’s more than local politics. There is a BIG International Player calling the overall shots and giving Gayoom and Co, the incentive and encouragement to go for broke.

    China!

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  9. Eight Ways to Identify Religious Brainwashing
    1.
    The first step in controlling the mind of a person is to control his or her environment
    Many cults encourage or require members to live communally so that leaders can control their members. Members may have to ask permission to visit family members, make a phone call to a relative, or send a letter to a friend. Leaders may ask to monitor any such conversations or demand to censor correspondence. Members are told that they are not yet wise enough or mature enough to discern between harmful and benign outside influences. Leaders discourage genuine dialogue and instead encourage one-sided proselytizing and scripted stilted encounters with family members.
    2
    Submitting to abuse. Once a cult leader has garnered total devotion from his or her followers, abuse becomes likely. This is because the group leader places his or her mission above the needs of the people. As Stephen Martin writes, the group members “eventually accept and endorse the ‘importance’ of the mission as their own, even coming to the point where they feel it is necessary to submit to pain and abuse by the leader or by his commands in order to fulfill the ‘higher purpose.’” To the member, this higher purpose likely includes his or her own salvation. They feel that the stakes of submission to the leader are ultimate.2
    3
    In many unhealthy groups, leaders set up a standard of extreme purity which they requires of true believers. In these systems, the narrow path of scripture is sharpened to a razor-edge. Followers teeter precariously on this razor path of purity, cutting their feet to ribbons as they try desperately to avoid falling into chasms of “sin.”The problem with this system is that “sin” is defined so broadly that “good” becomes an almost impossible thing to attain. Indeed, cult leaders often teach that even a person’s natural desires are evil—love of ice cream, for example, or wanting to spend time with natural family—and that in order to follow God they must crucify such desires. The group leader constructs a polarized system of right and wrong, black and white, with no room for personal preference or natural inclination. People who subscribe to such a system make themselves susceptible to a leader’s manipulation and control, since it is the leader who interprets right or wrong.
    4
    Exploitation of Weakness
    Religious brainwashing is all about control. A person in a place of power misuses their position to meet their own needs instead of tending the people entrusted to their care. Very often, the people under their care are emotionally or intellectually fragile. The abusive spiritual leader controls them by exploiting that weakness to manipulate their actions.
    5
    Leaders in such environments frown upon critical-thinking, since the teacher is an “expert” on the subject matter and the audience can presumably contribute little to his or her understanding. The leader encourages a spirit of submission and unity—actually uniformity—instead of discernment and occasional disagreement. When a member of the audience raises his or her hand to point out an error, the leader may sound frustrated and angry with them. “You don’t have the training that I do,” says the leader. “You need to trust me because God has specially gifted me and prepared me. Someday you’ll understand. Until then, you need to follow me by faith.”
    6
    Over-Active Mental Filters
    In order to isolate their followers from outside influences, leaders of unhealthy groups create buzzwords which shut the door on truth and outside input.
    For example, such leaders define any negative feedback about their group as “persecution,” and they call the source of such feedback a “slanderer.” Instead of stopping to consider whether the criticism is true, group members are taught to treat negative comments about the group leader as a threat.
    7
    “Doctrine over Person” means that a group leader puts his or her interpretation of scripture above the needs of the people in the group. While this may sound good at first—after all, God’s Word should be our highest priority, shouldn’t it?—in reality this practice is harmful because the leader’s interpretation is not the same as scripture. The result is a cloning of the leader’s personality and opinions.
    8
    “The totalistic environment draws a sharp line between those who have a right to exist and those who do not. They claim that those outside their group have no right to exist, or at least say that those outside their group are inferior. The group thus has an arrogant and elitist mentality, considering themselves superior rather than having equal rights as other humans. Those who do not conform to their path of existence are targets of rejection or annihilation.”

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  10. Another little tit-bit.

    A UK M.E.P. has told a EU commission that:
    “I am sure that no regime there [Maldives]would find it comfortable if governments began advising their citizens not to visit as tourists because of the dire state of human rights including particularly women’s rights and the lack of basic democratic freedoms.”

    What a load of nonsense.

    This indicates how effective International pressure will be. NIL.

    No Travel advisories would be issued on such grounds. The only grounds for travel advisories are for the safety and security of a county's tourist citizens while in the Maldives.

    Until tourists are seriously inconvenienced, threatened or harmed no such advisories will be issued. This would probably only occur if the airport became compromised.

    That is the level of European Union Political competence. The rest of the Western World is just as bad.

    No wonder Gayoom and Co feel empowered.

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  11. As you can probably tell from my frequent and intense posts, this business in the Maldives is totally infuriating me. As I have mentioned before, its like watching a train wreck in slow motion and not being able to warn the driver.

    If its bad for us on the outside it must be even worse for you people living there.

    Every day, several times a day there is a travesty of democracy and now the AG has gone sick too.

    I cannot see a solution other than the population rising up en-masse. If that happens many innocent people are going to get hurt.

    No legal or democratic solution is now available to the people of the Maldives. As you have seen from my previous post the International Community is full of hot air and stupid suggestions.

    Disgraceful.

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