Police stopped election illegally, in violation of constitution: Human Rights Commission

Police blocked the Elections Commission (EC) from conducting the re-vote of the presidential election on October 19 in contravention of the constitution, the Police Act, and the Elections Act, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) has said.

The commission said in a press statement yesterday (October 22) that it had replied to a letter sent by the Maldives Police Service (MPS) seeking to clarify which laws the police had violated and whether its claims on local media that police stopped the election were based on an investigation.

Police said on their website on Monday (October 21) that claims of the police acting outside their law enforcement mandate were “misleading” and were made “without considering the truth of the matter at all.”

The HRCM said in its reply that an investigation had been launched “immediately” upon learning that police had obstructed the EC on the morning of October 19 – an hour before polls were due to open.

The commission’s staff went to the EC offices, made inquiries and sought information from the EC secretary general as well as police officers.

“It was established with certainty through the commission’s inquiries that [police] stopped the Elections Commission from taking anything out [of its office],” HRCM said.

Announcing the cancellation of the polls on October 19, the EC said in a statement that its staff were told by police officers that “no document relating to the election can leave the commission’s offices”.

As HRCM deputy chair, Ahmed Tholal, was unable to contact the police focal point until 11:45am despite repeated calls. The commission’s letter dismissed as “false” the police’s contention that the HRCM’s condemnation in the media was made “without any consideration [of the facts].”

The HRCM also revealed that Acting Home Minister Ahmed Shafeeu told the commission that police had “acted upon an order given to them”.

Moreover, the HRCM noted that “the police stand” was made clear in a press conference by Chief Superintendent Abdulla Nawaz on the morning of October 19, in which he said that the police decided not to provide cooperation to the EC as it had not followed the 16-point guidelines imposed by the Supreme Court judgment that annulled the September 7 election.

Following the HRCM statement, former President Mohamed Nasheed tweeted today that he believes the prosecutor general should prosecute Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz for blocking the re-scheduled vote.

Appearing before the parliamentary Security Services ‘241’ Committee on Monday, Riyaz had however denied that police had blocked the election, insisting that the MPS only refused to provide security and cooperation.

Constitution and laws

The HRCM statement meanwhile listed the articles of the constitution and relevant laws that the police violated by obstructing the EC.

By blocking the election, the police “deprived all Maldivian citizens of the right to vote stated in article 26 of the constitution”.

Police also prevented the EC from carrying out its constitutionally mandated duties specified in article 170, which states that the powers and responsibilities of the commission include conducting, managing, supervising and facilitating all elections and public referendums, ensuring the proper exercise of the right to vote, and ensuring that “all elections and public referendums are conducted freely and fairly, without intimidation, aggression, undue influence or corruption.”

Consequently, the HRCM contended, “the Maldives Police Service on October 19, 2013 robbed the Elections Commission of its legal status”.

The commission noted that article 237 specifies the responsibilities of the security services as protecting the nation’s sovereignty, maintaining its territorial integrity, defending the constitution and democratic institutions, enforcing law and order, and rendering assistance in emergencies.

The HRCM argued that the proper role of the police on election day should be “acting upon the advice and consultation” of the EC to prevent the possible intimidation or aggression referred to in article 170.

Relevant laws, MoUs, and Supreme Court guidelines

The HRCM further contended that police violated article 7 of the Police Act (Dhivehi) by obstructing the election and “blocking the basic right of citizens to vote” as the law states that police must respect and protect the fundamental rights of citizens in the performance of duties.

Moreover, since article 13 of the police law states that police powers and discretions are derived from and restricted by the constitution, relevant laws and regulations, and court orders, the HRCM stated that on October 19 police acted “outside the bounds of the law and without a court order to stop the election”.

While police claimed that security and cooperation was withdrawn because the EC breached point five of the Supreme Court guidelines, “as point five of the guidelines does not definitively order the Maldives Police Service to do or not do anything, this commission believes that the police violated the aforementioned guidelines.”

As the Elections Act does not authorise any institution “to exert influence or power” over the EC’s work, the HRCM letter stated that police obstructed the EC in violation of the election law and “in a way that undermines the independence of the Elections Commission guaranteed by the constitution.”

The HRCM also noted that police breached the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the MPS and EC on September 3, which specified the role of the police in assisting the EC with election-related security.

As police were asked to maintain security and provide protection to the EC, the MoU “under no circumstances gave the power to police to obstruct the Elections Commission.”

The HRCM also argued that police contravened the Supreme Court guidelines as the first point ordered the EC and all state institutions to ensure that the first round of the presidential election was held by October 20.


13 thoughts on “Police stopped election illegally, in violation of constitution: Human Rights Commission”

  1. (1) This is a very significant development. It opens the way for prosecuting those responsible for violating the rights of more than 200,000 people in one fell swoop.

    (2) It shouldn't be the individual police men/women, but their superiors and their political masters who should be held accountable for this crime.

    (3) We now have the very first case to start off a long awaited process of 'cleansing' up the Maldivian state of corruption and nepotism. Make this as an example, and follow up with others.

  2. While HRCM has been a bit clumsy by reaching beyond its mandate (not a surprise given the general incompetence of its Commissioners) the general point made is correct.

    No police force should be given the right to halt elections. They were merely a tool in this case but that tool in the future should be given the strength and political independence to stay within the confines of the law.

    This can only be done by changing the process for the appointment of the Police Commissioner as well as the main body to which it must answer. A police force that answers directly to the President will be politicized no doubt about it.

    The pity is that all political parties still intend to continue the current situation just so they can have their own paramilitary force if they come to power.

    Case in point - please refer to the almost unanimous rejection of the Police Reform Bill proposed in Parliament by MP Mohamed Nasheed.

  3. This police commissioner is also a disgruntled crony of former dictator Maumoon and a fool who thinks he is smart. He is sticking his neck out in to everything and getting a noose tightened day by day by doing unconstitutional things and saying stupid things. He is one peice in this chess board of power that would be sacrificed very soon.

  4. @Hussain on Wed, 23rd Oct 2013 6:06 PM

    "This police commissioner is also a disgruntled crony of former dictator Maumoon and a fool who thinks he is smart. "

    (1) Those who THINK they are smart are indeed not so smart. Find me a genius who themselves thought they were smart!

    (2) This guy was questioned in Majlis recently and thought he could outsmart the assembled MPs, but failed miserably.

  5. #Ahmed Bin Addu Bin Suvadheeb23rd Oct 2013 5:36 PM

    Its significance is purely dependant upon which court will hear the case. Can you honestly expect any court in the Maldives to handle this case? I don't and especially the SC.

    The only hope is for the Chief of Police to be sacked by the President and I cannot see that happening either.

    However, more encouragingly, the rope is running out for the crooks. They are going to have a real hard job scuttling the election next time without serious reprisals from the people and the International community.

    Waheed can see the writing on the wall. He wants out before the s**t hits the fan.

    I predict as a last resort by the police, SC, JP and PPM that they will find some way to exclude Nasheed from the election probably by having him arrested on some trumped up charge. They may also try and over ome their differences and come up with one candidate and with a little bit of vote rigging may even it all up to a complete stalemate.

    Do not see any democracy unfolding just yet.

  6. What will King Henry II of the Maldives do when he realizes that his unscrupulous plans to halt the election might finally fail?

    Perhaps he'll mutter "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?" to his rustily-armoured henchmen?

    I hope Anni is surrounded by his own knights, their burnished armour glistening, who will ensure his physical safety.

    Or the Maldives brave attempt to achieve democracy is doomed.


  7. This certainly is a turning point, the whole premise the police coup was justified was the alleged unconstitutional orders, with this the lower rank and file was manipulated, along with stirred up religious fervour.

    Since the field leaders are now incriminated in unconstitutional acts at grand scales and backed by established watchdog institutions means the rank and file realizing the game which was played.

  8. ....and now they are trying to say police did not stop the elections, when it happened right in front of our eyes. Just like the coup that happened right in front of our eyes...

  9. how can there be an election which is only recognised by one candidate and against the supreme court?

  10. @Private Tourist on Wed, 23rd Oct 2013 6:48 PM

    "Can you honestly expect any court in the Maldives to handle this case? I don’t and especially the SC."

    No, not with the current idiots in place. I was talking about the day democracy finally returns. When that happens, a whole series of 'clean up' operations has to take place as a matter of priority.

    (1) Inform Interpol that Riyaz can no longer travel on his Interpol Passport (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interpol_Travel_Document).

    (2) Immediate travel restriction on all those who aided and abetted the 7th February coup.

    (3) Send Ali Hameed by boat to Siberia where he can enjoy all that Russian and Russian girls have to offer, if he ever reaches there.

  11. @tsk tsk on Wed, 23rd Oct 2013 5:42 PM

    "While HRCM has been a bit clumsy by reaching beyond its mandate..."

    (1) What mandate would that be? Perhaps they have a reason to be involved when the universal rights of more than 200,000 Maldivians are being snuffed?

    (2) Talking about "reaching beyond", didn't the Supreme Court reach way beyond its mandate in issuing "guidelines" to the Elections Commission on how to conduct its affairs?

  12. It's elections what is going on dictators act only like that police should only take the responsibility of safety that's there part any thing else become interrupt and a violent decent and truth is not there responsibility

  13. Before Human rights commission said that they were sure without any doubt that police was responsible for the halt. Now they are asking the police to clarify whether the police had any hand in the disruption?????? Bogus human rights commission??Now the stupid thing is the police is also asking the Human rights commission to clarify what they have done to disrupt the election??? Is this what "Dheboageri" means??


Comments are closed.