Police Integrity Commission Chair resigns citing institution’s failure to hold police accountable

Former head of the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) Shahinda Ismail has resigned from the Commission claiming “major difference of opinion” with other the reasons behind her decision to resign from the institution yesterday.

“For me, the commission is not heading in the right direction – when you look at the commission’s work of late, I didn’t feel it was working towards objectives stated in police act,” she said.

Article 19 of the Police Act charges the PIC with promoting police officer’s respect for law, to independently investigate any unlawful activities, and to enhance trust and confidence in the police.

“I don’t believe that sitting there would enable me to do anything good for this country,” said Shahindha, who questioned whether any of the country’s public institutions were helping the people of the Maldives.

“If police are allowed to act like this – there will never be an end to this,” said Shahindha who expressed her concern that repeated excuses made on behalf of the police will not bring an end to brutality or the abuse of power.

“What I’ve seen in the actions of institutions is that they have been giving a lot of space for the police to act with impunity.”

Shahindha’s resignation comes just days after the release of the second of three reports looking into incidents of police misconduct that surrounded February’s transfer of presidential power.

The recent report into instances of police brutality during the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) February 8 protests, included an addendum with Shahindha’s opinions after she was unable to agree with the conclusions of her fellow commission members.

The main point of disagreement emerged over the legality of the police’s breaking up of the protests, and the extent to which senior officers should be culpable for the ensuing violence.

Shahindha stated in the report that she saw acts of police on February 8 to have been against the law, and that she observed no valid reason for police to have broken up the MDP demonstrations in the manner they did.

She also stated that the Assistant Commissioner of Police Abdulla Fairoosh and then Acting Head of Police Specialist Operations Department Ahmed Shameem must be held responsible for not having carried out the responsibilities of their posts in a sufficient manner.

The remainder of the committee said that the police acted within the contours of the law and that acts of brutality were the sole responsibility of individual officers.

Shahindha stated that she could not understand the reason for these differences of opinion as she had no access to any information that was not seen by the other commission members.

“I really wouldn’t accuse anyone of any political activity or anything specific. People just don’t see things the way I see them,” she said.

The PIC’s Vice Chair Abdullah Waheed was unavailable for comment when called today. Waheed requested to be called back but was not responding to further calls at the time of press.

Waheed told Haveeru today that he believed Shahindha’s resignation was due to her husband’s departure to study in the UK.

“Since middle of July, Shahindha kept saying that she would leave the Commission as her husband was leaving abroad… So her statement to the media that she was resigning due to divergence of opinion comes as a real surprise,” said Waheed.

Shahindha’s husband, Hussein Shameem, confirmed to Minivan News that he had left his post as Deputy Prosecutor General in order to pursue further education in the United Kingdom.

Asked about the timing of her resignation, Shahindha said that she felt a strong responsibility to continue on the commission, despite ongoing problems.

“I waited mainly because this is the most important event ever involving the police. I was there when the incident took place. I played a vital role – I believed it was my responsibility,” she said.

Although she acknowledged problems with the commission before February 7, Shahindha described a more stark change in the atmosphere since February.

“The commission is in dire need of capacity building and I hope the state can provide necessary funding in order for the PIC to bring out sound conclusions. It needs capacity building in terms of its investigations,” she said.

Shahindha had previously expressed her scepticism over the ability of the PIC to handle the magnitude of the investigations following the release of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) report.

Despite finding that February’s transfer of power fell within constitutional limits, the report did acknowledge acts of police brutality and called for “assistance and encouragement” of institutions such as the PIC in order to increase “effectiveness and general performance.”

Shahindha stated that the Home Minister, who announced that the PIC would be tasked with investigating the abuses, was empowered to ignore PIC recommendations and had already done so.

Commenting on the arrest of former President Mohamed Nasheed this morning, Shahindha questioned the prioritisation of his case when cases of murder, rape and child abuse awaited trial.

Former Chairman of the MDP Ibrahim ‘Ibra’ Ismail has raised the same issue in a recent blog post, pointing out that there are currently over 2000 cases awaiting prosecution.


9 thoughts on “Police Integrity Commission Chair resigns citing institution’s failure to hold police accountable”

  1. Good on you Shahinda for your constant efforts to hold the police accountable. I do wish though that you hadn't resigned. That's making life too easy for the corrupt. But then again, can understand how tiring and frustrating it must be, being the only one with the guts to do what is right while the rest of the members just go with the flow of what happened on the 8th. Shame on the rest of the PIC members. Real shame.

  2. I don't think people need any further examples about the fact that the police are not made accountable for the many atrocities they continue to commit in this country. No institution is acting to make them accountable. This is of course confirmation of the failure of the State in general. The Human Rights Commission is at the top of the list among those that are incapable of making police accountable for their terrible human rights violations. So what do we have left?

    The arrest of President Nasheed today is a perfect example of their lack of accountability and credibility as a police force. In fact, the MPS doesn't seem to even have men who are professional and have enough courage, let alone integrity, to abide by their own laws, and show their faces or be identified when they go about their business. This is because they are engaged in law breaking, rather than upholding the law. Their outfits and the weaponry they carry, as they go among unarmed and peaceful communities are intended to cause terror among civilians. Another example of the lawlessness and impunity that exists among the police. So who will make them accountable? Not the PIC, with its members who seem to have tunnel vision, that much is clear! Perhaps that's why Shahindha happens to be the odd one out. She must have the capacity to understand the meaning of "integrity", the requirements of the Police Act and the mandate of the PIC, to name a few essentials to qualify to be on that Commission.

    The article says that -
    "The PIC’s Vice Chair Abdullah Waheed was unavailable for comment when called today. Waheed requested to be called back but was not responding to further calls at the time of press."

    But then, he had time to talk to Haveeru, of course!
    Doesn't much sound like a very 'independent' man, does he?
    Perhaps typical behaviour among people who don't have the capacity to be accountable, independent or are appropriately qualified to serve the public interest.

  3. Shahinda- Maldives need more people like you- people who can act ethically in difficult situations. Like Mariyam I am sad that you have decided to step down because the power of one should not be underestimated. I hope your resignation is not the end of your interest in justice for all Maldivians.

  4. First & Foremost I would like to record my appreciation for a balanced article. Reading the article I cannot help but be alarmed with what has been said. As a layman I am out of depth with the technicalities of the problems raised. What I do know is that after 30 years of authoritarian rule we have embarked on a mission to democratize our nation. Lets not forget that the transition has been in relative terms overnight - even though the process started around 2003. In 2008 we had our first multi-party (for the most part) free elections and in principle got 3 independent arms of the state and the independent institutions supposedly to provide the checks and balance of the branches of the state. This system was in festering crisis resulting in tensions in all 3 branches of the state.

    The Police are by law mandated to maintain law and order and has its role to play in us enjoying civil society. That on the night of 7th Feb there was a serious break down of law & order is undeniable. That the law and order breakdown snow-balled into a situation where President Nasheed was left without a country to be president of and so resigned has become clear from the many reports compiled on the events that night. That night the MDP haruge was destroyed & some policemen were allegedly seen there.

    The following day was a day of unrest called by the MDP with a militant cry to reclaim their Haruge and to force the new President to Resign. The mob was stopped about 500m to 1Km from the Police HQ. After several warnings the Mob was dispersed. The Police stand accused of brutality.

    My plea is would someone supply the statistics. 1). How many deaths occurred on that day? 2).How many serious loss of limb or injury occurred & how many were hospitalized? 3).How many fires did the police action result in? 4). How many Businesses were damaged by the police action? 5). How much Rf damage resulted in the action? 6), How many citizens were dragged to the prison? 7). What was the strength of the mob what were their mood and condition? 8) How many litres of blood was transfused?

    I haven’t read detailed stats anywhere except that Riko & 1 else had a scalp wound each with some cuts and bruises. One would expect a scalp wound to be bloody if it connects the right way with a ping pong ball smash connecting on Reek’s thin skull!

    Yet the Police stand accused of Wanton vicious police brutality.

    Let’s not forget the context of the violent mob that has just lost their cult President and was on a roll with their Gang members and all out to reclaim the not so long ago vacated seat of power.

    My contention is that the mob would have descended on the police HQ and to be sure met with an equally motivated opposition Gang. Where the previous day bloodshed was avoided (a miracle! Thanks be to Allah)this scenario could have ultimately lead to very serious loss of life and limb and riots in Male just like in Addu with arson attacks and a frenzy of looting, with catastrophic losses to the nation.

    But then I’m an ignorant layman and Madam Shahinda is the expert and she is a noble lady! A soru like me who sits on his brains most of the time thinks “all rubbish”. Oh yes! And the most urgent consideration in this moment of time when the Ex-President has proclaimed both nationally and internationally that he and his party won’t accept the jurisdiction of a Court in Maldives and in the glare of International publicity openly is in contempt of court, the more pressing problem of this nation RIGHT NOW, is the case of Don Manik stealing Aisa Manikes 3 chicken! And mind you this has been endorsed by none other than Dr. Ibra.

    Indeed this IS THE junction to Proclaim to the whole wide world that it’s so horribly bad with this brutal administration with its equally brutal police that Madam the Chief Commissioner records her protest. May God bless You Mi lady!

    Thank you the Maldivian Police Service. Thousands and Thousands simple folk out there asks Allah that you, the pride of this nation be Blessed. Thank you for a job well Done, You are the living heroes that saved this country in 2012.

    Let the powers be give you the very best in Education, the very best in Training and May you pray and take your lessons from your sacred texts and serve these beautiful islands that is our motherland – Maldives -in all humility and with discipline with the interests of the citizens of our motherland!

  5. She left after her husband, the deputy PG, Hussen Shameem got a scholarship to study in the UK. they are both leaving to the UK. She just wanted to make it something and portray herself as a person of integrity.

  6. shahinda and husband shameem just doing a show ! shameem got a scholarship and shahinda following him to UK. if not she wouldnt be saying all this and resigning. otherwise she would have resigned months ago not now

  7. Ah mad, you are trying too hard to prove how heroic the Police are...don't worry we all saw everything on TV and with our own eyes, and the Police continue to show their mighty power hiding behind masks and using batons and pepper spray at their will. Yep, real heroes indeed 😉

  8. @ Mariyam

    We both watched the same TV and walked the same streets that morning in front of the police HQ and we have perceived what we saw differently. It does not matter because are free and each entitled to our views. Believe me that I take no pleasure in my ex President portrayed in the News of the world as a fugitive. This could have been avoided and something tells me that the ex President is advised very poorly. It begs to ask the question who does all this senseless confrontation benefit. Certainly not the ex President - neither for his image nor his person.

    As for the Police action do not forget that its a cinder-box like situation. The slightest misstep could lead to very serious loss of life and limb. We have the Police to thank for the fact the biggest injury on camera shown live on twitter was the 1-2 mm scratch on the MDP host relaying live on twitter. The Police moved with lightening speed, clinical precision and overwhelming numbers to completely rob the intended propaganda coup to the well prepared MDP activists.

    The world was watching and the Police won Maldives the day. President Nasheed was treated with the respect and decoram he deserved and even stopped to buy him his favourite B&H cigarettes. That President Nasheed is treated well and given a fair transparent and equitable trial with due process as per our laws should be the wish of Maldivians. Rest assured dear Mariam that we all are the losers in this. Every single one of us. However for the sake of children & their children the rule of law should prevail. May Allah Bless you my sister!


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