Police seek criminal charges against 18 year-old pair for refusing to submit to search

Police have requested the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) press criminal charges of “disobedience to an order” against a pair of 18 year-olds who refused to submit to a search by police officers on patrol.

According to police media, officers on patrol attempted to search Hussain Hassan, of Ghaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo Semy, and Ahmed Sanij Sodiq, of Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo Melon House, around 9:30pm on September 26 near the old Jamalludheen School building in Male’ “based on their [suspicious] behaviour”.

The pair allegedly refused to submit to the search and “obstructed policy duty.”

Article 88(a) of the Penal Code states, “It is an offence to disobey an order issued lawfully within the  Shari’ah or Law; a person guilty of this offence shall be subjected to a punishment of exile or imprisonment or house detention not exceeding 6 months or fine not exceeding MVR 150.00.”

Article 47(a) of the constitution however states, “No person shall be subject to search or seizure unless there is reasonable cause.”

While in government, the formerly ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) accused former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom of using his influence on the judiciary to target MDP members using article 88(a) of the outdated penal code, which was drafted in the 1960s.

“What we are seeing today is, quite simply, a concerted attempt by the old guard to reassert itself. Having lost the presidency, and having recently lost control of the parliament, Gayoom and his allies are trying to win back power through the last non-violent channel open to them: the courts,” MDP Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik said in a statement on October 25, 2011.

“Worse, Gayoom’s allies and the courts are using the notorious article 88(a) of the Criminal Code – a broad catch-all provision on ‘disobedience to order’ used by Gayoom when he was President to attack and imprison political opponents. Mohamed Nasheed, now President, was arrested and prosecuted dozens of times under article 88(a), as were many other pro-democracy activists.”

Meanwhile, at a press briefing on Wednesday, Assistant Commissioner of Police revealed that officers on patrol after midnight have questioned 2,930 individuals in the past few weeks and prepared their profiles.

The Head of Central Operations Command explained that police have been “questioning people awake and out on the street without a purpose after midnight” as part of an ongoing operation to curb crime in the capital.

Saudhi also claimed that the government’s decision to revoke licenses of businesses to operate 24-hours has led to a decrease in the crime rate.