Transparency International “gravely concerned” about safety of Maldives staff, volunteers

Transparency International has expressed “grave concern” about staff and volunteer safety and “alarm” over the intimidation and public allegations threatening its Transparency Maldives chapter.

“Transparency International is gravely concerned about the safety of chapter staff and volunteers following an attack on one of its volunteers and telephone threats received by chapter members,” the international anti-corruption NGO highlighted in a press statement issued today (October 7).

“There appears to be a negative campaign in the local media aimed at undermining the effectiveness of Transparency Maldives’ anti-corruption work. Last week a senior member of the cabinet publicly threatened to close Transparency Maldives down,” Transparency International noted.

“Transparency Maldives has always played an active and constructive role in advocating for government transparency and accountability. We call on the authorities to ensure the safety of its staff and volunteers,” stated Transparency International.

Transparency Maldives is part of the Transparency International anti-corruption movement that includes more than 100 chapters worldwide.

Death threats and street attack

“An elections program intern was attacked on the street and had her phone snatched away,” Transparency Maldives’ Advocacy and Communications Manager Aiman Rasheed told Minivan News today.

Death threats were issued to Transparency Maldives staff by an unknown caller who contacted the organisation’s office, explained Rasheed. Both incidents occurred within five day period, during the last week of September.

“During every election these things occur, it’s not abnormal. However, the situation in the country has worsened since the 2008 [presidential] election,” said Rasheed.

“At that time, murder was unheard of and stabbings were rare. Now the threats seem more real in the current environment [with tensions escalating],” he added.

Today a death threat tweet stating “We will slaughter all of you goats until there are none left” was directed at Transparency Maldives and the Maldives’ former UK High Commissioner Farah Didi.

In regard to the “negative media campaign” aimed at undermining Transparency Maldives’ anti-corruption work, Rasheed noted that the Maldives Media Council (MMC) and Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) “will be aware of this” given their participation in the Elections Commission’s National Advisory Committee.

It is unclear whether MMC or MBC have taken actions to address these local media issues, but given the “general environment… a lot needs to be done in this situation” by regulatory authorities, he continued.

“Keeping [Transparency Maldives] staff and volunteers safe is our number one priority,” Rasheed declared.

In light of the recent death threats and attack of an intern, Transparency Maldives is urging staff and volunteers to be more careful, he explained.

“We are monitoring the environment and updating all our people,” said Rasheed.

Staff training has been conducted as part of Transparency Maldives’ security priorities, and the organisation’s electronic equipment and office are closely guarded, he explained.

“All [election] observers and volunteers are trained to remove themselves from any situation if any violence occurs,” he noted. “Their purpose is to observe whether violence has occurred, not to determine who hit whom.”

Transparency conducted an extensive election monitoring program, fielding a team of 400 election monitors during the first round of September 7. The organisation stated that the process was fair and credible and that incidents observed on the day would not have had a material impact on the outcome of the election.

Transparency Maldives called on all parties to act with restraint and uphold the constitution to allow for a run-off election to take place.

The Supreme Court on September 23, however, issued an indefinite injunction halting the second round of the presidential election, which had been scheduled for September 28.

Following the Supreme Court injunction, Transparency Maldives noted that the failure of parliament and the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to address alleged integrity issues of the Supreme Court judges have “created avenues for political and other actors to question the conduct, injunctions and verdicts of the Supreme Court”.

The following week, State Minister for Home Affairs and the Registrar of NGOs Abdulla Mohamed declared that Transparency Maldives and the Tourism Employees Association of the Maldives (TEAM) were under investigation for “unlawful acts” and warned the NGOs that organisations acting outside of law would be dissolved.


8 thoughts on “Transparency International “gravely concerned” about safety of Maldives staff, volunteers”

  1. Well, confronted with a properly trained security specialist, we can show them what a sacrificed goat looks like. This sort of bravado from machete wielding rats needs to be met with uncompromising force.

    All over the world, there's one lesson that's being learned over the ages. Overwhelming force is the only way to stop acts of cowardice and terror.

  2. Ahmed Bin Addu, I strongly disagree with using innocent goats to make a point.

  3. Well said and expertly done. I commend the young team at TM who has proved that Maldives has the human resource to build a solid democracy.

    I urge PPM, JP etc. to make some appointments based on merit and to sponsor and patronize young persons who can truly contribute something to your respective parties rather than cheap yes-men who would cuss their mother in return for lunch money.

    I know reasonable people within those parties will know what I am talking about. Yes even MDP employs the likes of Baarashu Shifaz and Goathivagu Sappe.

    BUT MDP has made a real change in this country by making positive engagements with young persons such as Aiman Rasheed and ensuring that he neither has to serve in the party nor to its whims but only in ways that favor its ideology. Meanwhile he can proudly claim that he is not a whipping boy for MDP either.

    Ilham Mohamed is another young woman who although no doubt follows the advice of an extremely influential man whom I will not name here, still maintains her independence and pride while serving in her current post.

    I urge PPM, JP et. al. not to attack organizations and persons who others spent time, money and effort on building. Just do the same. Sponsoring and developing credible civil society organizations who can be utilized at crucial times and in subtle ways to turn the tides in favor of a certain political ideology is part and parcel of civilized democratic politics. Don't hate the players just play the game.

  4. @tsk tsk, biased much? Every organisation that stands for truth n democratic values somehow end up being part of MDp in your eyes. You forgot HrcM that has also said vote was free n fair n all the international observers as well, I guess they were all also MDp stooges in your eyes.

  5. What is not understood by the coup members including the so called Supreme court judges is they cannot hold the youth of this country from standing up against their cowardly inhuman acts of treachery against the constitution and our people. Our constructive youth may turn destructive if they are pushed to the limit so people like Maumoon who may be have a couple of years at the most to live, better stop destroying the future of our youth by orchestrating repeated coups with the help of his ruthless cronies who defy the whole world.

  6. @Hathim:

    I think you have failed to understand my comment.

    There are two aspects to everything that is done in politics. One is the value-based aspect which in business terms is referred to as marketing. This is meant for mass consumption and involves varying degrees of deceit depending on the circumstances.

    Then there is the realpolitik behind it which in business terms would be the number-crunching done before making any decision.

    I have no ill will nor bias towards or against TM or any civil society organization in the Maldives. Rather I believe civil society is the best forum for activism and the most ideal tool to focus public outrage against morally contentious issues in the political sphere. Political parties have too much at stake to engage in reform movements. Hence my commitment to the need for NGOs and the space for those organizations to operate in.

    However what the common man may not always know is that well-funded well-established civil society organizations focused on governance or civil and political rights almost always come into being through the good offices of political parties and interests. The true test of the vested interests behind the formation of the civil society organization is whether they have the foresight not to sacrifice those organizations on the political altar when times get tough. Civil society organizations developed by political interests must be allowed to maintain the appearance of impartiality and professionalism at all times. Or else they will become discredited in the long run.

    I praise the interests who helped establish TM in the Maldives for letting the organization and its staff keep their pride intact.

    PPM has so far only managed to set up Hope for Women as a flagship NGO which favors value-based ideologies which favor the party. However Hope for Women also suffers from the fact that it is led by political personalities. A successful civil society organization must ideally be headed not by politicians but by carefully groomed proteges who have gained the trust of the people.

    Although you fail to understand my words dear Hathim I am sure both Aiman and Ilham will comprehend them perfectly.

  7. As for the vote it is a pity dear Hathim but it is obvious that aside from the empty bravado and hollow rhetoric even MDP and its presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed have very much endorsed the annulment of the first round of voting. Their actions speak much louder than any words could.

    Therefore the powers that be have decided and so unless you plan to start an outlaw rebel movement somewhere in the waters between Huvadhu and Fuvahmulah, then there is nothing we the people can do when all our political leaders agree on an issue.


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