The Attorney General’s Office has submitted a case claiming that causing public disturbances in the name of political protest is against the constitution.
The case, submitted in September, requests the Supreme Court to rule that such protests are against some articles of the constitution.
This includes disturbing the public, using foul language, protesting in a manner that instills fear into the hearts of children and the elderly.
Deputy Leader of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Dr Abdullah Mausoom said that people should have the right to the protest, but argued that Maldivians also “don’t want their daily lives disrupted.”
“We have such polarised parties here that are from one extreme to the other, it is expected that people protest.
“However when it disrupts the lives of people, like how the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) camped in one of the parks for weeks, it’s not right,” Mausoom added.
Earlier this year, the MDP set up a protest camp in the surf point area of the city following former president Mohamed Nasheed’s controversial resignation.
In March, security forces cleared the area in response to the violence that had engulfed the city on the morning of the raid, a police spokesperson told Minivan News at the time.
Police alleged that people had been committing crimes and threatening police before retreating to the MDP camp. The MDP claimed the action was a clamp down on freedom of assembly.
Police completely cleared the tsunami monument camp after Attorney General Azima Shukoor told the press that the area belonged to the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), and claimed that Male’ City Council did not have authority to give the area to the MDP.
In May, a second MDP camp at Usfasgandu was raided by police after a search warrant was obtained from the Criminal Court.
Reasons for the search as stated on the warrant included: “suspected criminal activity”, “damage to public property”, and “suspected black magic performed in the area”.
President’s Office Spokesman Masood Imad, told Minivan News that the government fully supports the right to protest, but it needs to be done in such a manner that does not negatively affect the lives of others.
He said: “A protest should be about changing something. A protest conducted in residential areas has nothing to do with parliament. Public protest and public nuisance are two very different things.”
The MDP meanwhile likened the move to Bahrain’s recent efforts to outlaw protesting.
“The MDP strongly condemns efforts to restrict freedom to assembly by the government. One of the most fundamental clauses in the new constitution is the right to protest and we are witnessing democratic gains fast slipping,” said MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor.
The AG office details that the activities detailed in their case breached the right to live, the right to privacy, the right to freedom of expression, the right to form political parties, the right to assembly and the right to provide special protection to children and the elderly.
All Supreme Court judges will be on the bench presiding over this case. The hearing has now been scheduled for Monday.