Commissioner and home minister voice concerns about difficulties facing police

Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed has stated that the police are facing difficulties in providing services due to the lack of sufficient resources.

Speaking at the 81st police anniversary celebrations held on Sunday night, Waheed opined that there is a need to revise the services of the police as the criminal environment has changed and is now inclusive of crimes involving increasingly dangerous weapons.

“We are seeing the use of swords, knives, and machetes in the crime scenes and this is something we must keep in our highest consideration when we are bringing changes to the police services,” he said.

He noted that in addition to not having suitable weapons and equipment to use for defence, the force also did not have vehicles or basic equipment like computers in some islands.

“It is proof of the high regard police officers give to national service when it is on their own private motorcycles that they go to major crime scenes, and do patrolling,” he said.

He said that the damage caused by “a group of citizens who destroyed and damaged police property during the events of February 8, 2012” have still not been overcome.

Home minister welcomes constructive criticism

Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer responded to Waheed’s claims during the same event, stating that the incumbent government will ensure that the damage caused during the events of February 2012 is repaired.

The minister further stated that the work of the police is a matter that is often criticised by the public, alleging that every such criticism results in being taken as encouragement by criminals. He stated that the current government will not allow any persons to incite hatred and mistrust against the police force.

“Due to the free and open media of today, it is possible to closely observe the work of the police and criticise it. The police will always welcome constructive criticism, and bring changes in their light. The police are not a force that will resist positive change,” the minister stated.

“However, there are some instances where in the guise of such criticism, hatred is incited against the police force. My wish is that no persons take things to this level. This is because every news or every comment presented in a manner that creates hatred against the police proves to be encouragement for criminals to commit further crimes,” he continued.

Minister Naseer revealed that in 2011, 60 police vehicles were damaged, while in 2012, 166 vehicles were damaged. In the last year, another 49 vehicles were damaged by members of the public.

“The question is, whose property is being damaged here? It is in fact property brought from the money of Maldivian citizens to provide a service to the same Maldivian citizens. People need to realise this,” he said.

Commissioner Waheed further said that the lack of a suitable training institution for police officers also presented additional challenges.

The commissioner also called on the newly elected 18th parliament to expedite the pending bills concerning the police, noting that the lack of required legislation proves to be another obstacle in reaching their goals.

Fighting crime

Despite revealing the challenges faced by the police force, the commissioner asserted that the force will be working tirelessly to fight crime, and will be willing to make whatever sacrifice is required of them in the fight against the drug trade.

He stated that those involved in the trade will be brought to justice adding that, if need be, officers will be deployed abroad for this purpose. He noted that the discovery in early March of the 24 kilos of narcotics that were being smuggled into the country was an exemplary operation.

The commissioner assured that police will not hesitate to bring to justice any persons who break the law, regardless of their status -whether they are powerful politicians, wealthy individuals, or otherwise powerful persons.

Nevertheless, the commissioner said that in order to become free from the problem of drugs, all citizens need to cooperate sincerely with reintroducing addicts into society.

He further referred to the recently unearthed cases of possession of illegal and dangerous animals, stating that the police will, in the near future, uncover the tactics used by smugglers of such animals and bring it to an end.

He then stated that it is crucial to bring an end to serious and organized crimes, saying that doing so is necessary to strengthen the country’s economy.

Home Minister Umar Naseer also added that the current government intends to introduce police services to every single inhabited island in the Maldives.

Both Naseer and Waheed noted the economic benefits that would accompany a reduction in organised crime.

“Although sometimes, it gives rise to international criticism when a country is seen as a place where laws are implemented, implementation of laws is necessary to increase investor confidence,” said Naseer.


Fisheries minister reveals details of fishermen’s allowance

The Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture has compiled procedures under which fishermen can apply for the government’s scheme for an allowance of MVR10,000 (USD 649) for fishermen during lean months.

Provision of MVR10,000 to fishermen ‘regardless of catch’ was a campaign pledge of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) during the 2013 presidential elections.

Speaking at a press conference held on Sunday, Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Dr Mohamed Shainee stated that the scheme will commence from Tuesday, April 1.

“The objective of this scheme is to further aid the fisheries industry to become a main pillar in strengthening the country’s economy. We are trying to give support and assurance to fishermen that they can maintain their careers in fishing,” Shainee stated.

“More than a form of social protection, this scheme is more a means to further develop the fisheries industry economically. Through this scheme, we are assuring an income for the fishermen”.

The minister stated that only tuna and yellowfin tuna fishermen are eligible to participate in the scheme during its initial stages.

“However, we are at the moment unable to include other forms as we do not have the statistics on how much they generally earn. Nevertheless, other fishermen will also be able to participate in the scheme,” Shainee added.

Under the newly comprised procedures, the ministry categorised tuna and yellow fin tuna fishing vessels into three categories: vessels smaller than 45 feet in length, vessels between 45 and 65 feet in length, and vessels larger than 65 feet in length.

Under the scheme, fishermen working on vessels smaller than 45 feet in length are to get an allowance of MVR3500 (US$227) in return for a monthly premium of MVR350 (US$23) paid to the state.

Fishermen working on vessels between 45 and 65 feet in size are eligible to receive an allowance of MVR5000 (US$324), while needing to pay a monthly premium of MVR400 (US$26).

Those working on larger vessels – over 65 feet in length – will be given the full allowance of MVR10,000 (US$649), and are required to pay a premium of MVR500 (US$32).

The premium fees are to be paid up front for a year in order to participate in the scheme. The minister stated that the government is working to arrange the receipt of payments through island councils.

“As over 90 percent of Maldivian fishermen work in vessels of over 65 feet in size, we have targeted the full amount of MVR 10,000 for them,” Shainee told press today.

“However, this government has not neglected any fisherman. By this I mean that, although our pledge says MVR10,000 for fishermen on all lean months, we have made the scheme inclusive of even the remaining 10 percent of fishermen,” Shainee explained.

Minister Shainee expressed confidence that the scheme would encourage fishermen to engage in fishing even during the lean months.

It was further revealed that discussions are currently being held to hand over the management of the scheme to the National Social Protection Agency.

It was noted that 722 fishing vessels are currently in the state registry, while 11,894 fishermen are registered as working on these vessels – only 5 percent of them are listed as working on vessels less than 45 feet in length.

According to the ministry, over 80 percent of the registered fishermen work on vessels larger than 65 feet in length. In a previous interview with Minivan News, Dr Shainee had noted that encouraging fishermen to use for economically sized vessels would improve the industry’s profitability.

On Saturday, President Abdulla Yameen revealed at a political rally that application forms for the scheme will be available from April 1 onwards. He further stated that the allowance will be released to fishermen before the end of May.

Yameen further revealed that discussions are being held between the State Trading Organisation (STO) and the Indian government to arrange the supply of petroleum products at a lower price.


Comment: EC crisis ends, polls as scheduled

The crisis that sought to engulf the March 22 parliamentary polls has ended as quickly as it appeared, with parliament unanimously filling an existing vacancy in the Election Commission (EC), ensuring the constitutionally-mandated quorum of three after the Supreme Court had disqualified two members – including EC President Fuwad Thowfeek and his deputy Ahamed Fayaz.

Of the three individuals nominated by President Abdulla Yameen to fill three vacancies – including the two ordered vacant by the Supreme Court – parliament cleared Ismail Habeeb to replace Ibrahim Waheed ‘Ogaru’, who resigned last October, citing health reasons.

That parliament was in no mood for any confrontation, either with the judiciary or the executive, became clear early on during the emergency sitting called by Speaker Abdulla Shahid when only 60 of the 77 sitting members turned up. No political party, starting with the the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), was known to have issued a whip on any vote that was considered imminent.

With opinion divided within the MDP on the future course of action deriving from the court verdict, as expected, the People’s Majlis took the relatively honourable  rpute of filling the earlier vacancy and leaving the court-ordered vacancies and the attended issues to be taken up possibly by the post-poll parliament. For now, Speaker Shahid announced – based on a decision by all floor leaders – that parliament would convene only after the scheduled polls of 22 March. This would help end speculation and rumours of every kind during the crucial residue of the run-up to the polls.

Second time in a row

Whatever the cause and justification, President Abdulla Yameen’s leadership – despite heading a diverse ‘ruling’ progressive coalition – has proved to be a better floor manager, twice in four months. Earlier, despite the MDP issuing a whip, the government ensured that the house cleared his 13-member cabinet as required under the constitution, without any confrontation – but cross-voting, nonetheless.

Now for a second time, MDP leader and vote-getter, former President Mohammed Nasheed, repeatedly asserted that any judicial intervention in the functioning of the EC could lead to a total boycott of the polls, the post-verdict national council meeting of the party demonstrated that many, if not most, members did not have the stomach for a showdown. It may be reflective of the national mood after the conclusion of the highly-polarised presidential polls, which also divided families in what is otherwise a closely-knit community.

The MDP’s predicament was summed up when party chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik declared himself against boycotting the polls. Talking to Haveeru after an inclusive session of the national council, he openly indicated that the national council was divided over the question. Having spent their time, energy, and more importantly their money for the upcoming polls, MDP candidates were obviously in no mood to extend their personal agonies any more than absolutely required. That was also possibly the mood within the governing parties.

Post-poll, however, the MDP leadership may be called upon to address the emerging/evolving internal crisis, which could take some form or the other in the weeks and months to come. Possibly taking a cue from the leadership, Speaker Abdulla Shahid – a relatively recent entrant into the MDP-fold – suo moto wrote to the president, the Supreme Court and others, contesting the content of the sack order against the two EC members.

MDP-controlled parliamentary committees also reacted likewise and even declared that the court-ordered sacking of the EC president and deputy was not on. However, when the matter came up before parliament, the mood was different.

Miscalculated, mistimed?

The crisis may have exposed foreign governments and international organisations for their continued lack of understanding of Maldivian politics and political manoeuvres. While sounding altruistic in the cause of Maldivian democracy – for which some of them tend to claim authorship – they refused to understand that the Maldivian polity and society had enough resilience to address internal issues, without blowing it out of proportions, or taking it to the international arena.

Even before the Supreme Court had pronounced its verdict on its suo moto contempt case against the EC, and coinciding with President Nasheed’s threat of poll-boycott, some western governments and institutions had cautioned the judiciary against such a course. They had followed it up with a more direct and more severe criticism of the judiciary and in defence of an ‘independent EC’ as it existed.

In doing so, some of them also called for ‘inclusive polls’, a term that the international community had used ahead of last year’s presidential polls, when President Nasheed faced possible disqualification flowing from a pending criminal case dating back to his presidency. The peaceful conclusion of the crisis may have now shown that they may have miscued, miscalculated, and definitely mistimed it all.

Indian non-interference

At the height of the global reaction to the judicial verdict – including from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon – President Yameen and Supreme Court Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz (he had dissented against the majority judgment) criticised the international community for interfering with the internal affairs of Maldives. Faiz, addressing critics both near to home and further afield, also cautioned that challenging verdicts ‘threatens Supreme Court’s existence’.

Yet, both simultaneously acknowledged the need for judicial reform. President Yameen, in a public rally, declaring his government’s decision to abide by the court verdict in this matter as in others also expressed the hope that the MDP would not have a problem working with his leadership on such reforms. Clearly, all this would have to wait until after the parliamentary polls, whose results, could impact on the future course. Whatever that be, the initiative would still lie with President Yameen and his ‘Progressive Coalition’ leadership.

Compared to the West, the post-verdict reaction from the immediate Indian neighbour was not hurried in coming. When it came, it was balanced. Noting “with concerns the removal of the Chairperson and the Deputy Chairperson of the Elections Commission of Maldives”, a statement from India’s Ministry of External Affairs, welcomed the post-verdict “commitment expressed by the Government of Maldives to holding the parliamentary elections” as scheduled on 22 March.

The Indian statement was noticeable for absence of any reference to the Maldivian judiciary, this time as throughout the presidential poll crisis last year. Traditionally, too, the Indian political class and public administrators have been extremely respectful of the judicial processes back in the country, and have been even more wary of commenting on them.

Independent of their private opinion, if any, on judicial behaviour, processes, and pronouncements, successive governments in India – and more importantly, all legislatures across the country – have been known to honour court verdicts. Where a confrontation had looked imminent, particularly between the judiciary and legislature, the habit has been for the latter to honour the final pronouncement of the former, after what initially might have looked like deadlock.

The discourse and debates on such matters have mostly stopped within the court premises, or within the precincts of the legislatures. Court verdicts have rarely been made subject of public debate or discourse in India.

Even where political, journalistic, or academic criticism has been made, the authors have been circumspect to the point of erring on the right side of the public regard for judiciary as the final arbiter of constitutional issues and public morals. A situation like the one that could have evolved in Maldives just now has had the potential to create a constitutional deadlock, which the Indian leaderships at all levels have consistently avoided in the country – and would not wish on any other country, particularly a ‘friendly neighbour’, where such a course could have threatened political stability for a long time to come.

Era of the unknown

Post-poll, Maldivian polity could be expected to slowly but surely re-position itself for the future, targeting the series of presidential, local council and parliamentary polls that are now due in 2018-19. Among the ever-increasing numbers of young voters, including first-time voters, democracy is here to stay, and purported threats to the democratisation process that commenced at the turn of the century, are in their parents’ memory, possibly still fresh.

Developments, such as the one now confronted, could flag concerns in their minds, but such concerns would come to pass as the crises too pass as fast as they emerge. This could set off a sense of democratic complacency that is commonplace in most, if not all, democracies. They could see motives where altruism may still be the only cause. In turn, this could contribute to, and necessitate in political parties and leaderships a realignment of their policy priorities and programmes over the next five years, in preparation for an ‘era of the unknown’.

Immediately, however, after the conclusion of the last of the series of polls this season, individual parties would be tempted to look internally and take stock, to reposition themselves for the future. Figure-head leaders of every party and group and the parties that they are associated with will (have to) take stock.

In helping the transition to the future, where the adversity of the past decade, requires to be tempered by reason and a collective will to make Maldives peace-loving and prosperous all over again, the government will have to initiate legal and political measures that are aimed at institutionalising facilitating mechanisms for the purpose. Again, the initiative would lie with the government and President Yameen – no matter the parliamentary poll results.

The writer is a Senior Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


Gasim asserts importance of Majlis majority for the Maldives’ development

Jumhooree Party leader and resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim has stated that, in order to lift the Maldives out of its current situation and to ascertain it has a better future, President Abdulla Yameen needs to be given his five years of governance.

Speaking at a campaign event of the Progressive Coalition’s Villin’gili constituency candidate Saudh Hussain, Gasim said that everyone needed to cooperate to provide Yameen with a five year term to make right the current situation of the country.

Gasim added that this will be made possible by ensuring that there is a Progressive Coalition majority in the upcoming 18th parliament, adding that Maldives will find itself in severe hardship if the majority cannot be achieved.

Speaking of the past ten years, Gasim claimed that the development had failed to go according to plan.

“The first five years were spent in establishing democracy within political chaos. In other words, it was spent in the establishment of reasonable norms and democracy within a peaceful environment. However, not much thought was given to economical matters within these five years, and not much was achieved on that front,” Gasim stated.

“The last five years were spent to bring economical stability within democratic norms, but even that failed to go according to plan,” he continued.


EC dismissals: President pledges to abide by court ruling, criticises MDP boycott talk

President Abdulla Yameen has said the government will ensure that rule of law prevails, and that executive will respect and abide by Supreme Court rulings.

“God willing, my government will definitely uphold the rule of law. All entities of my government will abide by the Supreme Court ruling,” Yameen said last night.

Speaking at the campaign launching ceremony of ruling Progressive Party of Maldives’ (PPM) VilliMalé constituency candidate Ahmed Nihan, Yameen stated that it was not acceptable practice in “civilised societies” for other institutions to criticise decisions made by the Supreme Court.

However, when Nihan himself was asked about the courts decision on Sunday evening, the MP expressed his reluctance to make any comment.

“I would have to really think twice before I go ahead and say anything about the Supreme Court,” he said. “The Supreme Court may think that it’s a contempt of law if I said anything.”

Announcing that the President’s Office had called for applications to the vacant posts in the Elections Commission (EC), Yameen reiterated the government’s stand that it would complete all necessary preparations to hold the Majlis elections on March 22 as stipulated by the apex court’s ruling.

“We are working to ensure that we have some names by 3pm on Thursday. God willing, we will complete the work tasked to us by the Supreme Court within the six days they have assigned to us,” he continued.

Yameen stated that his government would not question verdicts released by the Supreme Court and that his administration had complete respect for the judges on the bench.

However, the president did admit that judicial reform must be discussed, adding that “this includes the issue of delays in case completion. Even MDP [opposition Maldivian Democratic Party] members will accept that there are some cases that have been halted midway.”

“Even President Nasheed himself will believe that there are certain cases which do not proceed at all in our judiciary,” said Yameen.

“You can’t achieve results by playing the game off the field”: Yameen

President Yameen further stated that he finds the tendency of first world countries to “interfere” in internal matters of small countries in a manner that contradicts “the lessons in governance that they continue to deliver” to be highly concerning.

“I have even previously stated when I was working in the presidential campaign that in our administration, we will maintain the independence and sovereignty of deciding on our internal affairs in Maldivian hands. God willing, our government will achieve that,” he stated.

Referring to the opposition party’s consideration of boycotting the upcoming parliamentary elections, Yameen argued that “you can’t achieve results by playing the game off the field”.

He called on the MDP members to participate in the elections and join the parliament if they wanted to bring reforms, especially to the judiciary.

“I want to say to all MDP members that the Maldives is a country belonging to every one of us. This is not particularly Adhaalath Party’s Maldives. Nor is it specifically PPM’s Maldives. Nor is it Jumhooree Party’s Maldives. And especially, this is not just the MDP’s Maldives. This country belongs to all of us,” Yameen stated.

He stated that the MDP should not resort to boycotting the elections, and must come out and vote. He added that it is crucial in a modern society to demonstrate via parliament how one should act when power begins from the people.

“Depriving membership for themselves from an institution elected for a five year term – depriving their members from their right to have their feelings expressed – this is not a manner in which a political party would act in a modern environment,” the president said.

Meanwhile, the MDP held a meeting of its National Council yesterday night with the intention of deciding whether or not to boycott the approaching polls.

While the meeting was closed to media, some local news outlets were able to report proceedings.

According to local media, two proposals were made at the meeting – former President Nasheed proposed boycotting the upcoming elections and protest the Supreme Court’s decision, while another unnamed member is said to have proposed that the party protest but that it still participate in the election.

The meeting was brought to a halt by Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik citing differences of opinion, with a follow up meeting to be scheduled in the near future.


Comment: Talking of another possible coup

Former President and opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supremo Mohamed Nasheed has given what may be seen by some as a timely warning to the nation and incumbent, Abdulla Yameen, about ‘another coup’.

In doing so, he has implied that there is an urgent need for institutional reforms if such a course is to be averted. In an interview to MDP-supported Raajje TV, he claimed that some Supreme Court Judges were also behind what he reiterated was a ‘coup’ to oust him from office in February 2012 – but did not elaborate or provide substantive evidence.

That there is an urgent need for ‘institutional reforms’ in democratised Maldives is conceded readily by all sections of the nation’s polity. Most leaders now in the fray were also members of the Special Majlis that drafted and adopted the current 2008 constitution. For them to concede that they may have blundered, without actually having the courage to acknowledge it as such, should be welcome.

There is, however, a need for urgency in pursuing these issues within a more substantive and meaningful national dialogue. Such a dialogue may have to wait for a new parliament to be elected in the 22 March polls. It will be equally interesting to observe what various political players have to say on such issues during the current campaign period.

The various political positions that could be taken by different political parties will in turn be based on their own experience with the existing constitution (as they perceive it), and their expectations (as they conceive it). There is no guarantee that they would not err again, but ‘dynamic societies’ like the Maldives would always have to make constant and continuing compromises – either now or later.

It may become more difficult under different circumstances and under newer players on a distant day to attempt such changes.

Mis-reading, mis-leading

The present reference to ‘another coup’ apart, this is the second occasion in almost as many weeks that former President Nasheed is hinting at a change of national leadership. On the earlier occasion, media reports quoted him as saying that the MDP would move a no-confidence motion against President Yameen in the post-poll parliament, and have him removed at the first available opportunity?

Such reports will sound credible only if the MDP is able to muster the required two-thirds majority in what will become an 85-member parliament, up from the current strength of 77. It also implies that all MPs belonging to the party would stand by the leadership and its diktat, to vote out the incumbent. Whether it would have to be accompanied simultaneously by a no-trust move also against the incumbent vice-president – if the political strategy was to ensure early polls to the office of the president – is a moot question.

Alternatively, the MDP – which is still the single largest party – both within the People’s Majlis and outside, could muster those numbers if, and only if, MPs belonging to the ruling coalition led by President Yameen’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) were to cross floor, either as constituent parties or individual members.

In a country where ‘defection’ has been a password for political survival, both before and after the advent of multi-party democracy, such a scenario is not unimaginable.

In this background, Nasheed’s caution towards the incumbent and the nation is likely to be mis-read and hence misunderstood. Whatever the scenario one were to look at, such a scare has the potential to destabilise the nation’s polity and political administration all over again. In political terms, it could become an electoral tool in the hands of the adversaries of President Nasheed and the MDP, in that order, during the run-up to next month’s polls.

In the ensuing melee, both the MDP and former President Nasheed could be dubbed ‘over-ambitious’ and politically greedy – which need not be the case. The two will have to remember that within the high vote-share for Nasheed in the final-round poll in the November elections, a substantial numbers were ‘non-party’, non-committed voters. Given the turbulent, and at times violent, turn that multi-party democracy has taken since inception in 2008, this section of voters in particular could feel ‘uneasy’ and ‘uncomfortable’.

Going by the second scenario, encouraging defection can cut both ways. The present parliament saw both the MDP losing and gaining from defections. To an extent, it also dependent on the ‘incumbency’ factor. It was among the various factors that helped the MDP become the single largest party after coming second in the 2009 parliamentary polls, and later going on to become the ‘majority party’ as well.

Cross-voting, if not outright defection, also worked against the party’s diktat when MDP parliamentarians more recently helped ensure the mandated Majlis clearance for President Yameen’s cabinet.

It is the third of Nasheed’s possible apprehensions about a ‘possible coup’which should be of greater concern. It is here that his reassurance that he “will do everything” in his “personal capacity” to prevent a coup from taking place assumes significance. Given the context, and the MDP’s claims to his losing power to a coup in the past, it has now become morally, if not legally, binding on both to share whatever details that might come their way, now or in the future, with the nation and the government of the day.

In the same vein, however, Nasheed has possibly reiterated his past reference to a no-confidence vote when telling Raajje TV that “we will work within the legal ambit to ensure that the transition of power takes place through an election”. This may have made the earlier ‘reassurance’ as unsettling as it may be untimely – not only for the nation but possibly for the MDP too.


Civil Court declares former police intelligence director’s arrest unlawful

The Civil Court has declared the Maldives Police Services’ arrest of former Director of Police Intelligence Sabra Noordeen on 16 March 2013 unlawful, unwarranted, and an ‘abuse of power’.

The court has also ordered the police to erase the record of the arrest and to issue a written apology.

Speaking to Minivan News today, Sabra said she had filed the case “because I wanted to set a legal precedent which would make the Police think about the wider rights and responsibilities they have to uphold before they exercise their powers.”

The police arrested Sabra upon her arrival at Malé International Airport on 16 March 2013 on the charge of “inciting violence” against a police officer on 5 March 2013 during the arrest of President Mohamed Nasheed. The police also confiscated her passport.

She was then handcuffed in order to be transferred to Dhoonidhoo prison. However, the police took her to Malé instead, and released her after issuing a summons to appear at the police station at a later date for questioning.

Sabra first appealed the Criminal Court warrant at the High Court and asked for compensation for damages. In August 2013, the High Court ruled the warrant valid, but said that Sabra should seek compensation at the Civil Court.

In yesterday’s verdict, the Civil Court noted the Criminal Court had not ordered the police to arrest Sabra, but had provided a warrant authorising her arrest upon the police’s request.

The court said she could only be arrested under such a warrant if there was “a necessity for her arrest”,  and if such a necessity ceases to exist, she should not be arrested “even if the warrant has not expired”.

The Civil Court noted that the High Court judges had deemed Sabra’s quick release on the day of her arrest to have been an indication of the lack of necessity for her arrest.

The Civil Court has also warned that the police’s abuse of power defeats the purpose for which the institution was founded, and would create doubt and fear about the the institution.

The verdict declared that Sabra’s arrest violated her right to protect her reputation and good name as guaranteed by Article 33 of the constitution, and the right to fair administrative action guaranteed by Article 43. The court also found that the police had acted against their primary objectives underlined in Article 244.

Following her arrest in March 2013, Sabra called for police reform in order for the institution to regain public confidence – including the dissolution of Special Operations unit and holding police officers accountable for misconduct and brutality.

“I quit the Maldives Police Service on 8 February 2012 with a profound sense of sadness for the institution and the colleagues I left behind. I do not believe that everyone in the MPS was involved in the mutiny or the coup and I do not believe in blaming everyone in a police uniform,” she wrote in an article detailing the events of her arrest.

Previously, the Criminal Court had declared the police’s arrest of incumbent Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and the arrest of Ghassaan Maumoon, son of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, as unlawful.

In 2010, the Civil Court also declared the Maldives National Defense Force’s “protective custody” of current President Abdulla Yameen as unconstitutional, while the Supreme Court ordered the immediate release of both Yameen and Gasim Ibrahim (both members of parliament at the time).

Accusations of brutality and misconduct by MPS officers are common and have been confirmed by various independent state institutions. Among them are the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) that looked in to the controversial power transfer of February 2012 and two constitutionally prescribed independent institutions – the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives and the Police Integrity Commission.


Majlis will reconvene to discuss revenue raising measures

The People’s Majlis has agreed to return from recess on Tuesday (January 14) in order to discuss urgent amendments to tax and tourism legislation that will enable the government to raise vital revenue.

Local media has reported that the session will begin at 9am.

President Abdulla Yameen last week called upon the legislature to reassemble in order to facilitate the record MVR17.95 billion budget passed last month – of which MVR3 billion is reliant on new revenue raising measures.

“God willing, when the revenue related bills are passed next week the projects in atolls will speed up”, he said.

The measures include hiking Tourism GST from 8 percent to 12 percent, revising import duties, continuing tourism bed tax for one more year, raising airport departure charge for foreign passengers from US$18 to US$25, leasing 12 islands for resort development, introducing GST for telecommunication services, and obtaining resort lease payments as a lump sum.

Following the Majlis’s failure to extend tourism bed tax before the start of the current recess, Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad told local media that the resulting losses to state revenue would be MVR100 million a month.


President calls on Majlis to expedite revenue raising measures

President Abdulla Yameen has said development projects can only be spoken of after the People’s Majlis passes revenue raising measures.

Yameen said  that in order to speed up the bills, a request for parliament sittings during this recess period had been submitted with signatures of twenty six members of parliament.

“God willing, when the revenue related bills are passed next week the projects in atolls will speed up,he said.

The Majlis in December passed a record MVR17.95 billion budget of which MVR3 billion is to be realised only after the parliament approves revisions to existing legislation.

The measures include hiking Tourism GST from 8 percent to 12 percent, revising import duties, continuing tourism bed tax for one more year, raising airport departure charge for foreign passengers from US$18 to US$25, leasing 12 islands for resort development, introducing GST for telecommunication services, and obtaining resort lease payments as a lump sum.