IFJ calls on government to speed up investigation into Rilwan’s disappearance

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) together with its affiliate the Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) has called on the government “to speed up investigation to clarify of whereabouts journalist Ahmed Rilwan Adbulla, who is missing since August 8.”

In a joint statement, the MJA called on “all relevant authorities to make an extra effort to clarify the whereabouts of Abdulla,” while the IFJ said the disappearance was “deeply concerning.”

“We call on the authorities to undertake a full investigation up to and including the time of his disappearance, conducted with the upmost seriousness, with all findings released to the public. The disappearance of journalists is a serious matter and full support must be provided to the family,” said the IFJ.

The MJA meanwhile expressed “grave concern over recent incidents of threats sent through text messages to local journalists.”

The MJA also called on “all parties to refrain from obstructing a free and independent media in the Maldives.”

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) meanwhile put out a statement last night expressing concern with the police investigation and efforts to locate Rilwan, which it contended were “inadequate”.

The main opposition party noted that Rilwan disappeared at a time when journalists were facing intimidation and receiving death threats.

The MDP referred to the party bringing to the government’s attention the abduction of alleged advocates of secularism by a vigilante group in June.

“However, we note with regret that the government has taken no action concerning [the abductions],” the statement read. The party also referred to previous threats against journalists and the arson attack against the opposition-aligned private broadcaster Raajje TV.

At the time, the party claimed to have “received information that some religious extremists have kidnapped young people claiming they had committed irreligious acts.”

The MDP said the public was anxious following Rilwan’s disappearance due to the government’s failure to share information and updates regarding the investigation.

“And we note with concern that especially Rilwan’s family and independent journalists are facing extreme anxiety and sadness due to the [disappearance],” the party said.

The party called on the government and the relevant authorities to step up the investigation as well as efforts to find Rilwan with more focus and attention than at present.

The statement concluded with a prayer for success in the efforts by Rilwan’s family and friends to locate him.

Both the Human Rights Commission of Maldives and Home Minister Umar Naseer have expressed concern at his disappearance, while the police’s efforts to locate Rilwan are ongoing.

Police have launched an official appeal for assistance, requesting that anyone with further information call the Police Hotline 332 2111, or Serious and Organised Crime Department at 9911099.

A team of around 30 friends and family members focused efforts on the more isolated areas of Rilwan’s island of residence Hulhumalé yesterday.