The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) delegation sent to Maldives to tackle alleged human rights abuses of MPs will be holding a press conference tomorrow to discuss their findings.
The IPU’s human rights mission to Maldives comes after increasing reports of political intimidation and turmoil following former President Mohamed Nasshed’s removal from office earlier this year.
The three-day mission from November 20 to 22 includes Philippine Senator Pangilinan from IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians and IPUS’s Human Rights programme head – along with two other IPU delegates – conducting several high-level meetings at the invitation of the government.
The talks will include discussions with President Mohamed Waheed, government ministers, the Speaker of the national parliament and other high level parliament and judicial authorities.
Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP for Galohu North Eva Abdulla, who participated in the meeting of IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians on October 21, said that the IPU has already condemned the attacks and continued harassment of MPs, whilst “expressing concern” at the delay in the investigation and prosecution of wrongdoers.
“What this trip will highlight to the IPU is that MPs are under even more threat now. Not only has not a single case against the police has not been prosecuted, but instead we are seeing that almost every single MP who filed a case with the Human Rights Commission (HRCM) or Police Integrity Commission (PIC) are they themselves being prosecuted in return.
“In addition, the government is targeting the parliament as a whole, as well as individual MPs,” Eva told Minivan News.
According to a press release issued by the IPU on Tuesday (November 20), currently 19 Maldivian MPs from the MDP have lodged cases with the IPU Committee over allegations of “excessive violence, arbitrary arrests, intimidation and criminal charges believed to be politically motivated”.
The IPU also mission intends to address incidents involving the arrests and intimidation of other MPs in the past few days.
Two MPs, along with other senior figures in the MDP were recently arrested for the alleged possession of drugs and alcohol on the island of Hodaidhoo in Haa Dhaal Atoll.
Whilst police said that they had found large amounts of “suspected” drugs and alcohol upon searching the island, MDP alleged the arrests were a politically-motivated attempt to disrupt parliament ahead of a no confidence motion against President Waheed, and an amendment to voting procedure to make such votes secret.
Jumhoree Party (JP) MP Abdulla Jabir – who was arrested during the raid, but has since been released – alleged the way in which the police conducted the raid was like that of a “terrorist killing operation”.
A press release from MDP on November 19, regarding the treatment of former SAARC Secretary General and Special Envoy to former President Nasheed, Ibrahim Hussain Zaki, who was hospitalised as a result of the police operation, claims that the “attack” is part of a pattern which has seen opponents of Mohamed Waheed “regularly imprisoned and/or beaten by police”.
Speaking about the case, MDP’s international spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor – also arrested and allegedly beaten alongside Zaki – said: “The attack against Zaki is an attack against democracy and against India. It is a further example, if one were needed, of the Maldives’ descent into a police state – where the security forces are beyond criticism, and can act with complete impunity”.
In the build up to the vote on taking secret votes in no confidence motions against President Waheed Hassan Manik and other cabinet members, further allegations made by Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Ali Azim claim that the president and other senior members of the executive had approached him, offering to cancel the court summons if he agreed to vote for the secret balloting in a way they preferred.
Days prior to the secret voting motion, DRP MPs Mohamed Nashiz and Azim had been ordered to appear in court over the the failure of Funaddoo Tuna Products to repay loans worth MVR 117 million (US$7.5 million) to the Bank of Maldives.
Azim alleged that in addition to Waheed, his Political Advisor Ahmed Thaufeeq and Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza had called him and made similar statements.
The decision by the IPU to carry out the mission was decided at IPU’s 127th Assembly in Quebec City last month in a series of resolutions recommended by the IPU Committee.
According this week’s press release, the committee expressed “deep concern at reports of renewed ill-treatment, detention and harassment of the MPs by law enforcement officers as well as shock at the killing of MP Afrasheem Ali in early October”.
The press release further states: “Maldives has been in political crisis since February when incumbent President Mohamed Nasheed was replaced by his Vice-President Mohamed Waheed. Since then, there has been growing international concern at the political intimidation and serious outbreaks of violence in the country.”
In March, the MDP parliamentary group submitted cases alleging police brutality against the former ruling party’s MPs to the IPU’s human rights committee at the 126th Assembly held at Kampala, Uganda.
The cases concerned targeted police brutality against MDP MPs on February 7 and 8, in particular on the latter date during a heavy-handed police crackdown on an MDP protest march that left scores injured and hospitalised, including former MDP parliamentary group leader and Hulhu-Henveiru MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik and Maafanu South MP Ibrahim Rasheed ‘Bonda’.
Three classified reports by the IPU concerning police brutality against MDP MPs have been shared with parliament and the executive since the transfer of presidential power on February 7, the party revealed last month.
The IPU is a global organisation of parliaments, established in 1889. It works to foster coordination and exchange between representative institutions across the globe. The IPU also offers technical support to affiliated nations. The Maldives has been a member of the organisation since 2005.