The Police Integrity Commission (PIC) has published a summary of one of its three reports concerning the February 2012 events on their website.
Of the three separate reports the PIC has said it will release, the one published today (in Dhivehi) covers the events the investigation carried out to see if the police had committed any unlawful acts during the events of February 6 and 7, which led to the controversial transfer of power in the Maldives.
The report highlights nine different incidents. In five of these, the report states that the commission will further investigate the role of the police and take necessary legal action.
It explains that the investigation was carried out with reference to videos downloaded from the internet, CCTV footage, interviews and phone logs. It emphasises that all conclusions were reached in the light of information uncovered from the above-mentioned means and the existing legislative framework.
According to the report, all conclusions were reached with the unanimous agreement of all five members of the commission.
Regarding the matter of police withdrawing from and returning to the Artificial Beach on February 6, the report states that the order to retreat was given by then President Mohamed Nasheed. It goes on to say that in refusing to obey this command, the police in the area had been acting in accordance with provisions in the constitution and the police act, while concluding that then Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh, Deputy Commissioner of Police Ismail Atheef, Chief Superintendent of Police Farhad Fikry, Chief Superintendent Mohamed Hameed, Superintendent Ibrahim Adnan Anees and Superintendent Ahmed AbduRahman had acted against these laws, namely Article 244(a) of the constitution, Article 6 (8) of the Police Act and the official police oath.
The report states that the commission believes that police occupying Republican Square had made valid and justifiable demands. It details these demands to have been for the Commissioner of Police to meet them, agree to not give them any more unlawful commands, and to provide a guarantee that no action would be taken against the officers for the events of that night.
While highlighting that police themselves have a constitutional right to go on strike, the report notes that it was wrong for them to have remained in the Republican Square after civilians joined the area and the gathering turned into a politically-motivated one. The report notes that it was some among these citizens who called for the resignation of then President Mohamed Nasheed.
With reference to the damage caused by officers to the police headquarters, the report says: “With reference to the videos and accounts reviewed by the commission, we have found that some among the police officers gathered in the Republican Square on February 7 entered the [police HQ] Shaheed Hussain Adam Building, damaged property, broken the panes of a window, took down the police flag, threatened senior officers and committed violent acts against them. These are disciplinary and criminal offences which should not have been seen from police officers.”
It furthermore states that these will be treated as separate offenses and legal action would be taken against those involved.
In contrast to the general account of events, the PIC in its report states that supporters of MDP and other civilians had marched into the area where the police were chanting their mission statement. The report claims that this led to clashes in which persons from both sides sustained injuries. It notes that the MDP were allowed to approach the police because MNDF officials who were tasked with cordoning off the area had retreated.
The PIC further claimed that its investigations had uncovered that police had entered the MDP ‘Haruge’ only with the intention to catch some individuals who had attacked the police at the Artificial Beach, and then run to the Haruge to hide. It also noted that people and property in the Haruge were attacked by both police and “some other persons”, stating that the commission would further investigate the role of the police in the incident, and take any required legal action.
On the issue of the takeover of the state TV channel, MNBC One, by police, military and opposition demonstrators, the report observed that the police went to the channel’s offices under the orders of an unnamed senior level commander. It states that they went to “provide protection to the channel” since it had received information that some civilians had entered and were vandalising state property within its premises.
The report states that police had been able to enter the MNBC premises after two attempts because a group of civilians were attacking them with sticks and stones outside the building. It describes the police entry into MNBC:
“Tear gas was used as police were unable to enter the MNBC premises due to attacks from civilians outside. The gate was locked, so police fired teargas with a riot gun into the premises through an opening in the gate. The police are authorised to use this weapon. Tear gas was fired inside in case there were people inside who might again attack the police. The gate was opened merely by thoroughly shaking and pushing it.”
The report notes that although the police used a “strict attitude” which “checking” the station, they did not commit violent acts against the people there. It also says that the police did not in any way attempt to influence the channel’s broadcasting. It states that the police checked the premises to see if any outsiders were there, and then retreated from the building. The PIC defends police’s actions in this matter by stating they were in accordance with Article 2 and 4 of the Police Act.
As a final point of investigation, the report notes that some police officers were injured in clashes between the officers of MPS and the MNDF. It holds then Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh accountable, quoting negligence, and states that the commission will take legal action against him.
The only recommendations in the report are directed for action from the Minister of Home Affairs. The recommendations are that the police institute remain free from political influences, and for the establishment of a working environment where the police could work without bias and with equability and fairness.
“A noble request can be made in an unlawful environment”
President of the Police Integrity Commission, Shahindha Ismail, speaking to Minivan News today expressed concern that some local media were misinterpreting the PIC report.
“The PIC does not collectively call the actions of the police on the 6th and 7th of February constitutional.”
“A very noble request or demand can still be made in an unlawful environment. This is what we are saying. The demand by the police to not give them unlawful commands was within the boundaries of law. But that they had remained there, with civilians, as part of what had escalated into a politically motivated gathering is wrong.”
Shahindha further said that the fact that many of the incidents highlighted in the report called for more investigation and action against police, confirming that the PIC did not endorse police action of the days in question as lawful.
PIC has previously said that it meant to release the reports before the CNI report. Shahindha said that the delay had been due to complications during the in-depth investigation.
President Nasheed’s nominee to CNI, Ahmed ‘Gahaa’ Saeed, when sharing his reservations with the press, had expressed disappointment that the CNI had not received the PIC report during the inquiry phase.