Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s daughter and current Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dunya Maumoon, in a press conference today dismissed the international human rights NGO Amnesty International’s report on the Maldives.
The report titled “The other side of paradise – a human rights crisis in the Maldives” chronicled the human rights abuses in the country that took place following the controversial transfer of power.
The report detailed a number of incidents of police brutality on February 8, including attacks on Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs Eva Abdulla and Mariya Didi.
“The overall objective of these violent attacks has been to silence peaceful government critics and stifle public debate about the current political situation,” said the report.
“Based on Amnesty International’s interviews with survivors of these violent attacks, it appears that many were targeted by security forces because they were MDP ministers, parliamentarians or supporters,” it read.
The report recommended that the Maldivian government “ensure prompt, independent, impartial and effective investigations into allegations of violence by officials.”
“Those suspected of offences involving such violations, irrespective of rank or status, must be prosecuted in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness,” the report read.
Speaking to members of the press – who did not include opposition-aligned Raajje TV – Dunya stated that the majority of the allegations stated in the “heavily biased” report were not true
“I am not saying that nothing happened. There were incidents that took place. But the report did not highlight on the arson attacks that took place in Addu City on February 8,” she said.
She further went on to stress that Amnesty must verify information that they receive before deciding its factual accuracy.
“Instead of just listening to just one party, Amnesty must thoroughly observe the happenings that take place in the Maldives,” she stressed.
Furthermore, the state minister stated that it was not the government’s wish to comment on “reports like that”, but “said it does not mean that government is dismissing all the reports that came out, concerning human rights abuses in the country”.
However, Amnesty’s researcher in the Maldives, Abbas Faiz, had a dissenting view.
“Without an end to – and accountability for – these human rights violations, any attempt at political reconciliation in the Maldives will be meaningless,” he said
Meanwhile, Minister of Home Affairs, Mohamed Jameel Ahmed earlier made similar remarks on the report as Dunya, criticising Amnesty International for failing to seek the comments from the government.
“They had not sought any comments from the Maldives government. I’m extremely disappointed that a group advocating for fairness and equal treatment had released a report based on just one side of the story,” Jameel told local media at the time.
“An international group of the caliber of Amnesty should have heard the other side as well. But they had failed to obtain our comments,” Jameel said.
The Amnesty report recounts sustained and pre-meditated beatings of protesters with a variety of weapons during the violent crackdown.
Some of those interviewed reported people being attacked in their hospital beds, whilst others recalled torture and further degradation whilst in detention.
Whilst Amnesty stated that several of its human rights recommendations were reflected in the Commission of National Inquiry’s (CNI) report, which was released on August 30, but Jameel argued that the CNI had highlighted misdemeanors of protesters which did not make it into the Amnesty report.
“CNI (Commission of National Inquiry) report had clearly highlighted the actions of demonstrators during protests in the Maldives. The foreign observers labelled the actions of demonstrators as cowboy tactics,” Jameel told Haveeru.
In their closing observations, Professor John Packer and Sir Bruce Robertson, advisers to CNI appeared critical of the anti-government protesters.
“Some would want to call an example of the rights of freedom of expression and assembly. In reality it is rather more bully boy tactics involving actual and threatened intimidation by a violent mob,” reported Packer and Robertson.
“The demonstrators undermine the peace and stability, carry out attacks while being inebriated, carry out attacks with sharp objects and damage private property. Even internationally such actions are regarded as violence. However, the Amnesty report has ignored all such things. It is extremely one sided and unjust,” said Jameel.
However, in relation to Jameel’s remarks, Amnesty International’s spokesperson rebutted the claims contesting its impartiality.
“Amnesty International is an independent and impartial human rights organisation without any political affiliation. We are not alone in highlighting the human rights violations since the transfer of power this year,” he said.
He also dismissed Home Minister’s remarks that the NGO had failed in getting the remarks of the government.
“In compiling our report we talked at length with government and police officials in Malé and Addu during our visit to the country in late February and early March. On the occasions they responded we have included their comments in our documents,” he said.