The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has filed a case in Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) alleging corruption involved in Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM)’s delay in releasing its findings concerning a police crackdown on protesters on February 8.
In a press statement released (Dhivehi) yesterday, the MDP alleged that HRCM was “deliberately delaying” the release of its findings for “political interests”, despite stating in local media that it had completed the investigation process.
“Human Rights Commission of the Maldives has stated in the media that they have finished compiling the report following their investigation into the violent police crackdown on protesters on February 8, after the toppling of the legitimate government by a coup d’état,” the party said.
“This party condemns the commission’s delay in releasing the report, which we believe is because of political interests,” read the statement.
The MDP alleged that the actions of HRCM were in violation of the regulation on right to information, and claimed that despite the commission’s statement to local media stating that it had released the report, it was not publicised anywhere.
“When [we] requested a copy of the report, the commission responded saying that a copy of report would only be made available after the commission decided on the matter during a meeting held on Wednesday, August 15, and said that they had sent the report to MDP office. But as of now, no such report has been received,” read the statement.
The MDP in the press statement said that these actions suggested that “members of the commission are involved in corruption – the use of power and authority for the benefit of certain parties”, and that therefore MP Ibrahim Rasheed would submit the case to the ACC on behalf of the party.
The MDP also called on the commission to immediately release its report to the public without delay.
Following MDP’s statement, the HRCM released a counter statement explaining the procedures it follows after releasing a report.
“This commission acts in accordance with the stipulations of article 24(c) and 24(d) of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives Act. Therefore, it includes issuing of the investigation report to the party that filed the case, and we also share a copy with those that we feel are responsible and the authorities,” read the statement.
Article 24 of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives Act (Act no. 6/2006) dictates the procedures which the commission has to follow after completing its investigations.
Article 24(c) states: “The commission should present a report of the investigation to the party that filed the case to the commission and to those which the commission believes should take responsibility.”
Article 24(d) states: “The commission should present its investigation report to the relevant authorities, and must advise them on way to which issues concerned in the report be not repeated again.”
HRCM in the statement said that the publicising of an investigation report would be decided after meeting held by the members.
The commission also claimed that the investigation into the events that took place on February 8 was “not an investigation that was initiated following a case filed to the commission” but rather a “self-initiated investigation”.
The commission also claimed that the report had been sent to concerned parties on May 28, and had also shared “necessary information” with the public during a press conference on July 18.
Minivan News understands that the report has been submitted to the government, but has not been otherwise circulated.
On February 8, thousands of protesters who took to the street in peaceful protest following the controversial toppling of former President Mohamed Nasheed were met by a violent crackdown by police.
The political chaos was triggered after Nasheed rallied MDP supporters, declaring that his resignation had been under duress, and called for the freshly-appointed President Mohamed Waheed Hassan to step down and call for elections.
“Yes, I was forced to resign at gunpoint,” Nasheed told foreign reporters after the rally. “There were guns all around me and they told me they wouldn’t hesitate to use them if I didn’t resign.”
Nasheed’s supporters then clashed with police and military forces near Republic Square, and were repeatedly tear gassed by the police. Dramatic footage of the crackdown has been shared on social media. More videos uploaded showed police kicking and beating protesters on the ground.
A Minivan News reporter was injured following what he described as a baton charge by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s ‘Star Force’ officers.
“They were beating old women with batons,” he said. “It was just like the old days.”
Police also confirmed at the time that there had been injuries to protesters.
The HRCM condemned the police brutality against civilian demonstrators.
“We highlight the fact that a lot of civilians and police officers have inflicted injuries of varying degrees during the demonstrations organised by the MDP, which became a confrontation between police and protesters,” a statement read at the time. “With regards to the demonstration, this commission is in the process of investigating the matters under its mandate.”
Addressing police forces and the public, the commission requested both parties to safely support the rights guaranteed in Article 32 of the constitution, which provides for the freedom of assembly.
“We advise the police to maintain their actions to standards that would not lose the public trust on the police service and we call the public to support and assist the police in executing their duties,” read the statement.
On May 29, HRCM stated that it had completed the investigation of the event and stated that its findings were sent to the authorities including the Prosecutor General’s office and parliament.
HRCM member Jeehan Mahmoud at the time said all but one of its investigations into the government changeover in February, and the events that led up to it, had now been completed.
One more report into the alleged human rights abuses conducted by police on the day of February 7 was left to be completed, she added.