Parliament on Tuesday voted out President of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) Mohamed Fahmy on charges of sexual harassment against an employee.
The 70 members who partook in the vote were split 38 for removing Fahmy, 32 against and 2 abstentions.
The parliament debated on the report on the case submitted by the Committee on Independent Institutions prior to the vote.
Chair of the Committee, Independent MP Mohamed Nasheed, said that in addition Fahmy himself and the employee who had submitted the complaint Aminath Shahma, other members of the CSC and staff members had been questioned by the committee.
Nasheed said that other staff members, including Fahmy’s personal secretary, had made statements which backed Shahma’s allegations, while Fahmy’s defense had nothing to support it. He added that the committee had asked both Fahmy and Shahma if they were willing to repeat their statements under oath, to which Shahma had agreed while Fahmy refused to respond.
After much debate by MPs with opposing views on the parliament floor, Nasheed responded saying the the Committee on Independent Institutions had oversight mandate over the CSC, and that it did not need to conduct a criminal investigation to remove Fahmy from his post.
“What we applied are widely accepted civil standards. Based on our findings, 7 out of the 10 committee members decided that it was more likely that Fahmy had committed this act than that he did not. And that is enough to remove him from his post,” Nasheed said.
He added that this had no relation to Fahmy’s role in the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) – of which the CSC president is by default a member. He also clarified that unlike the claims of some MPs who had spoken in Fahmy’s defense, the Prosecutor General’s office had not sent the case back to the police but rather had asked for additional clarifications.
Workplace harassment: a common problem for women
Many MPs, including independent, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MPs, spoke in favour of removing Fahmy from his post.
DRP MP Rozaina Adam, MDP MPs Eva Abdulla and Mariya Ahmed Didi spoke of workplace harassment being a common issue faced by Maldivian women.
Although MP Visam Ali stated that the matter needed further investigation and submitted an amendment asking for parliament to postpone Fahmy’s dismissal until the authorities looked into the matter more deeply, Rozaina stated that the parliament was not mandated to run a criminal investigation and that it should remove Fahmy as he was believed to have committed an act unacceptable from a man in his position.
“Honour is not something we get just by addressing each other as ‘Honourable MP’, as stipulated by the regulations. We need to prove to our constituents that we work in their interest,” Eva Abdulla said.
“Even the former Auditor General was removed because this parliament through its findings believed him unfit for his post. It was not done after a police investigation.”
“In the JSC, Fahmy actually voted in a way that benefited [the MDP], by voting that the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court is illegal. The MDP will work with principles and not a political mindset,” Ali Waheed said.
“Shahuma stood up and shared this issue with a lot of courage. We cannot turn our backs on this,” he went on, “And this HRCM report – They say they can neither prove whether he has or has not done anything. What have they found? What’s the point of releasing this one day before the vote?”
Removing Fahmy may lead to more allegations
Members of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) mainly spoke in defense of Fahmy, alleging that this could “possibly be a politically-motivated allegation”.
Most of them stated that since a criminal investigation was involved it was better to let the police and courts come to a decision on the matter before the parliament voted on removing him.
PPM MP Shifaq Mufeed said, “Let’s not turn this parliament into an investigative body”, adding that the police were more qualified to run a professional investigation.
“We might be faced with an unrecoverable loss if we remove Fahmy, as he is a member of both the CSC and the JSC. If we remove Fahmy, there may come planned false allegations against other members of independent commission,” he said.
“To Shahuma, I have to say: ‘be patient, madam’. Let the police investigate. We are not going to incriminate Fahmy and take Shahuma’s side, nor are we going to incriminate Shahuma and take Fahmy’s side.”
Adhaalath party member and MP Ibrahim Muthalib also spoke against removing Fahmy in parliament today.
“If we are to make our women nude and exposed, and then send them out to mingle with men, then why speak of protecting them? Honourable Speaker, this cannot be done in this manner. If a man and a woman are in a room alone, Satan will be there as the third person and will encourage sinful activities,” Muthalib said.
“Their place is in their houses, to serve their husbands and look after children. If we give them the opportunity to go out and mingle then we can no longer talk about their dignity and protection. It is people who harass women who are now speaking in their defense here today,” he further added.
Cannot confirm whether or not the harassment happened: HRCM
Meanwhile on Monday, a day ahead of the vote against Fahmy in parliament, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) released a report on the case.
HRCM claimed that they had not received enough evidence to prove whether or not Fahmy had harassed the employee.
The report further said that although Fahmy had sent a text to Shahuma with an apology, it was unclear what the apology had been meant for.