Legal wrangling begins over MDP camp seizure

The seizure and dismantling of the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) camp in the south-east coast of the capital by security forces has sparked debates over the legality of their actions.

The camp, often referred to as “Justice Square” at Lonuziyaaraiy Kolhu had served as the base for MDP protests since the resignation of former President Mohamed Nasheed in February.

During a press conference at Iskandar Koshi last night, Police Superintendant (SP)Ahmed Mohamed noted that the “operation [at the camp] was executed with regard to complaints received that major illegal activities were taking place”.

Following the raid, police displayed a case of beer cans and a barrel of home brewed alcohol – reportedly seized from the camp – to local media.

The SP also cited constitutional obligations which include the maintenance of law and order in the face of criminal activities as a reason for the dismantling of the camp.

“The violence in Male’ was also linked to the protesters who started the demonstrations from the Lonuziyaaraai area,” Mohamed alleged.

MDP’s response

Meanwhile, the MDP has denied all allegations about the camp and filed a civil suit against the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and the Maldives Police Service (MPS) arguing that the security forces had acted unconstitutionally on a number of counts when dismantling the party’s camp.

In the first hearing of the case last night, the Attorney General’s (AG) Office justified the raid.  She argued that the raid was executed without a court order, on the grounds of suspected criminal activity in the camp, according to the head of the MDP’s legal team, Hissan Hussian, in an interview with Minivan News today.

According to the AG’s office, the suspected illegal activities negate any need for a court ordered warrant.

Hisan explained that the MDP’s defence calls on Article 19 of the constitution, amongst others.  These articles provide freedom from restraint in any activities unless the activities’ restraint is expressly authorized by law.

Should the veracity of the police’s suspicions be supported, they could provide the legal cover necessary to nullify this aspect of the MDP’s argument.

Additionally, the apparent discovery of alcohol at the camp yesterday may jeopardise the MDP’s defense under Article 19 which does not guarantee protection of any activities prohibited under Shari’ah.

The finding of alcohol has been questioned by the MDP, which has argued that a media blackout immediately following the military occupation gave time for such evidence to be planted.

Hissan claimed that basic rights to private property had been infringed due to the actions of security forces.

MDP spokesman Hamid Abdul Ghafoor meanwhile has complained that property belonging to the party members were seized during the raid and “nothing has been returned”.

“They [police] have even eaten the food [at the camp].” Ghafoor alleged.

Police however have stated that all property owned will be returned to the rightful owners and that officers “had not inflicted any damage to any item confiscated from the area.”

The other “reasonable limits” to which the constitution’s basic freedoms are subject to will no doubt form a major part of the next hearing which is scheduled for Wednesday at 4pm.

Ownership debate

Should the MDP’s constitutional arguments prevail, it is likely that they will still have to overcome the issues of jurisdiction regarding the camp area.

Attorney General Azima Shukoor was reported as having told local media yesterday that the area around the tsunami monument belonged to the Maldives National Defence Force, invalidating any deals made between the MDP and the Maldives City Council (MCC).

This argument has been used before by the Defense Ministry who have argued that 3,800 square metres of the south-eastern corner of Male’ were granted to the MNDF in 1997 owing to its strategic significance. State Minister Muizz Adnan confirmed to Haveeru on March 14 that this was the case.

This claim is disputed by Hissan who felt this agreement was superseded by the 2010 Decentralisation Act, under which the land was transferred to the MCC. The land was then leased to the MDP, with the lease running until the end of July.

This view has been corroborated by Mayor of Male City, Ali Manik, who also told Haveeru that the council had not been informed of the security forces’ intentions.

The Attorney General’s Office explained during the court hearing on Monday night that the reason a court order was not required was because the space was a public one.  Attorney General Shukoor referred Minivan News to the police for further comment on the issue.

Hassan Latheef of the MDP’s legal team doubts that this argument is “watertight”.

“Ninety-five percent of Male’ belongs to the state, so this is a questionable policy. There should be a warrant. One should not go into private property,” said Latheef.

Controversy over the area’s use has been building for some time. The decision to extend the MDP’s use of the area until the end of July was contested, with Council member Ibrahim Shujau in particular feeling that it was unfair that one group monopolise a public space for such a length of time.

Local media recently alleged that the MCC had denied a medical emergency helicopter from using the area’s helipad.

Similarly, there have been reports of complaints being made regarding the noise created by the camp and the disturbances caused to local residents.


12 thoughts on “Legal wrangling begins over MDP camp seizure”

  1. Nothing can be done in Male' by one resident without disturbing another resident. The houses so close to one another that a fall of an article to the floor in one house can be heard in the next house. The walls of these houses normally very small are either sharing or touching. If one house is to be demolished it had to wait until a wall is built of the other house. So, the residents being disturbed by the activities by the MDP at the Justice Square (the Raalhugandu Area) was a reason insignificant for the police to crush the activities carried out there.

    As far as the evidence of illegal activities like the cans of beer and condoms is concerned, the police must have acted more cautiously by accompanying the media with them as witness to what they found there. However, they went into the area and having taken time enough to have fabricated the so-called evidence and the media shown that saying it was collected from the site and blamed the previous occupants. This is irresponsible and unconvincing.

  2. Baagee Waheed(BW) said his government will not do anything against the law. But we are seeing everyday is your "salaamathee baaruthah" doing

  3. The planting of alcohol is pitiful and very unconvincing, especially as there are reports that the beer cans were cold!Isn't this dismantling just vandalism in another name? Would go with the brutality and thuggery that this regime promotes, pure Yameenism.All this hoohaa about alcohol yet its ok to torture and murder inmates in jails. Shame shame

  4. @ninaa.Im not a ppm thug but Im a MDP thug. Here Im dropping some lines of what I truly believe as a MDP member. I understand its hard for some MDP members to quietly read these lines until the end.

    As a MDP member for 7 years I'm shocked by some members of avoiding to listen the thoughts of one another which I believe is so naive and undemocratic. Averring to the situation we cannot ignore what we see and what we want to believe.

    I strongly believe that we are not on the right track, We can never avail by the decisions MDP is taking. We are been demoralized and falling apart by these acts. Not to mention the names we need to bring out positiveness rather than chaos. What we are seeing here is a hatred of oneself through failure.

    It is the facts that sources the value not the blindness to create disorder among the Security and forces whom also has the right to vote as a majority.

    We are creating slickness of failure within the party. We are slowly killing ourselves.

    Lets call upon understanding rather than egoism. I free stand as a MDP member and call the front line of 3 or 4 MDP members to side walk and hand over to the others who can raise up strong to bring the party on line.

    Closing, I know followed there will be comments below chasing this lines to avoid the though of reality. .

  5. Yellow Akuru, I have to say that you are being very honest if you are an MDP supporter. I have been a member from almost the day it was formed( well soon after it was formed in Colombo) and I have to agree with you that this is not the MDP I joined or supported.

    This does not mean that I agree or accept this current government or what it is doing. No in fact I am calling for them to have an open and transparent inquiry with the support of the Majlis headed by a Supreme Court Judge of the calibre of Muathasim Adnan. This inquiry would have the power of subpoena people and get them to give evidence under oath.
    This is the only way we can save Maldives now.

    As for the violence and destruction created by my party I am ashamed. People like Maria Didi come on Raaje TV and tell the supporters blatant lies that not even a child would believe yet a lot of MDP members believe her.

    What is happening to Maldives? Isn't there anyone in MDP or for that matter outside of MDP who can save us from these people like Gayoom and Nasheed?
    Forget about Waheed. he is no body.

  6. I also voted for MDP in the general elections. I honestly believed then that Nasheed stood for the common mans rights and would advocate for the people's rights. I believed that MDP was a peoples party.

    After February 7th, i have begun to witness the true colors of MDP. Torching of govt buildings, create unrest, throwing bricks at people and police, inciting violence with hate speeches by MDP leadership, marches and protests held with people chanting "Hang Waheed, Hang Waheed".

    Is this what a party that represents the People are supposed to represent ? Are these not Maldivians that MDP is attacking ?

    Are these not Maldivian places that MDP is torching ? Are these not human beings that MDP is chanting to be hanged ?

    How can Maldivians trust a party that incites so much hatred, and committs such horrific violence against our brothers and sisters ? Is the presidency the most important goal for MDP ? Does MDP not care about the thousands of Maldivian people whose lives MDP is ruining with their violent acts and barbaric actions ?

  7. @Concerned
    The only corruption today is with the new regime and the puppet traitor!

  8. @maink. Hang on to your tendency to believe the reality. In fact I see a minority of MDP members are willing to open their views. Most of them came to talk what they believe is politics only 8th February 2012.

    We have been following the directions they lead for over 45 days. What is the result? How long should we have to stay? Other than pressuring or violence what else do we have? Are we (MDP) the only people living in the Maldives?

    I may sound like a BAGEE for some people who are reading this, however I will remain to be a MDP member and I will be also take part in altering the party line which I believe will happen very soon. Ripley s believe it or not.

    Ps leaders of MDP, consider some key leaders to side walk and open the democracy for us to digest others view rather than "LAARI LAARI BAGEE BAGEE"

    Accept the Self insecurity and revenge upon failure.

  9. Yellow Akuru, You should be congratulated in your views. I sincerely hope that we have the right people in MDP who can save us( Maldives) from this disaster.

    I have seen the behaviour of the a number of my parties MPs in the Majlis. I remember in 2009 Ameen Faisal was censored by the then opposition parties for calling the MPs a bunch of animals. I wonder what Ameen Faisal now thinks of his own MPs?

    What we should raise in front is our country and not any party. Why destroy our country now? What is wrong in being in the opposition and winning the next election peacefully?
    I feel the policies of the MDP leaders is that if we cannot rule them we would destroy the county.

    What we all should realise is that it is due to the way Anni ran the government that he got so unpopular. As for people claiming " where is my vote" I really am puzzled. Didn't they vote of a piece of paper that had both the name of Nasheed and Waheed?

  10. Are the police now following lawful orders? On 7 th Feb they they mutineered disgracing the whole armed forces saying that they had to follow unlawful orders. The problem is armed forces are hwpeavily politicized . And now to uphold the illegimaye gov they are following these orders. Before seizure all or some reporters were chased out and all of a sudden allegations were made of criminal acts. These cronies of maumoonism has robbed power to hide 30 year old corruption and to fabricate things about the lawful government that they had robbed off

  11. @Aish. Im a MDP member and I was arrested during Maumoons regime and also was blind folded for 16 hours. I was scared, but I'm no longer feeling the terror to read, write, speak, walk, express or work like those times.

    I'm wondering how you people are defining that 30 years regime is back. These people are always back. They are back in MDP even. Can u please define the meaning of what you are trying to say. Maybe you didn't missed it or was not born to compare the situation which I cannot help.

    When there is time can u please explain it to me and please dont mix your frustrations to define the meaning.


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