MDP concern over stalled Majlis investigation into Ibthihaal case

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has voiced concern over the slow pace in which the Majlis investigation into the death of 3-year-old Mohamed Ibthihaal has been proceeding.

MDP MP Rozaina Adam said that, despite the government oversight committee receiving reports from the relevant authorities a week ago, a meeting has not been scheduled.

“We have been pleading and begging with the committee chair Riyaz Rasheed to schedule a meeting,” said Rozaina. “This investigation is getting stalled because a meeting has not been scheduled.”

The motion to investigate the death of the boy from Vaavu Rakeedhoo-year-old, who was found dead on January 28 with signs of severe physical abuse, was proposed by Rozaina, fellow MDP member Ahmed Falah, and Jumhooree Party MP Moosa Nizar.

Government oversight committee chair Riyaz Rasheed, of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives, was not responding to calls at time of publication.

He explained last week that the first hearing into the case had been adjourned after most members of the committee requested more time to analyse the recently received documents.

Commenting on the reports given by the police, Rozaina said that the details given consisted only of events which occurred after Ibthihaal’s death, and did not have any details of the events leading up to his death.

Rakeedhoo island councilor Abdulla Rasheed had previously told Minivan News that the council had informed authorities Ibthihaal was being abused prior to his death.

Rozaina also said that the reports revealed police had not informed the Family Protection Agency (FPA) of the case, as required by Article 14 of the Domestic Violence Act, which states that the police shall inform the authority if any member of the police is present at the scene of an incident of domestic violence or when the incident is reported.

She said that the FPA has been facing severe budget constraints as it has not been able to obtain finances, since money was not allotted to the authority by the parliament as per Article 55 of the Domestic Violence Act.

“The PPM majority budget committee did not hold meetings with the FPA. In addition, the FPA has informed us that it is being run by only two to three staff members,” she said.

FPA staff have confirmed to Minivan News that they have only three technical staff members, with Policy and Advocacy Director Aminath Leena Ali saying this was “not even close” to enough staff to deal with the current workload.

She noted that there had been an increase in reports of abuse since news of Ibthihaal’s death broke. NGO Advocating the rights of Children has described the rise in reported incidents as the “tip of the iceberg”.

MP Rozaina went on to accuse the government of negligence, saying that the gender ministry has no parliament-approved minister. The ministry has been headed by Attorney General Mohamed Anil since its creation in July last year.

In addition, she said that the gender ministry’s child helpline 1412 has stopped functioning, and is not picking up calls.

“Ibthihaal’s murder illustrates when the government does not adequately address social issues,” said the Meedhoo MP.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) – who is also conducting investigations into Ibthihaal’s death – released a press statement last night urging media outlets to not publish articles which might hinder its investigations or mislead citizens.

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