Controversial blogger and “prisoner of conscience” released from custody

Ismail ‘Khilath’ Rasheed was released from police custody last night, where he had been held since December 14 without charges while police investigated his role in a peacefully-intended protest held on December 10.

Police confirmed that Rasheed was released on a court order, and said that the investigation into his involvement in a silent peaceful protest on December 10 had been concluded with no findings against him.

Rasheed was arrested on December 14 for his involvement in a protest for religious tolerance held at Male’s Artificial Beach on International Human Rights Day. The group of approximately 30 protestors were attacked with stones, and Rasheed was taken to the hospital with head injuries.

Rasheed’s detention was twice extended by the court, which subsequently launched an investigation into the contents of his controversial blog which was previously blocked by the Islamic Ministry on the grounds that it contained anti-Islamic content.

After Rasheed’s detention was extended a second time on December 27, Islamic Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari requested parliament’s National Security Committee to include a clear, strong punishment for those advocating religious freedom within the Maldives in the new Penal Code currently at committee stage.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International declared Rasheed a prisoner of conscience, and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) challenged Bari’s argument that calling for freedom of religious was unconstitutional within a democratic Muslim society.

“The Maldivian constitution bans the promotion of any religion other than Islam but guarantees freedom of assembly and expression as long as it does not contravene Islam. Rasheed professes to be an adherent of Sufism, which emphasises the inner, spiritual dimension of Islam,” read the statement by RSF.

Minivan News was unable to reach Rasheed at time of press.


Tourism Ministry threatens to revoke resort licenses over payments

The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture is threatening to suspend the operating licenses of a number of resort and hospitality properties unless they pay outstanding government charges and related fines before July 20, Haveeru has reported.

The Nasandhura Palace Hotel and 10 resort properties in the country reportedly owe a combined total of US$16million to the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA), with failure to pay these individual debts expected to lead to a revocation of operating licenses under the Lease Rent Regulation.

Any enterprises that fail to pay these state charges before the 90 day deadline passes on July 20 will be able to have their licenses reinstated once any outstanding government debts are met, according to tourism officials cited by the paper.

Galaxy Enterprises, which rents the Nasandhura Palace Hotel, is facing legal action by the MIRA, who filed a case at the Civil Court this week over claims it is owed some US$265,000 by the company.


Cabinet to decide on matters that could result in the public paying fees

Government offices have been asked by the President’s office to propose any services that could result in the public paying fees or charges.

The President’s Office asked that any information regarding the matters proposed should not be made public until the Cabinet has made its final decision on the matter.

All government offices were also instructed all government offices to execute the Cabinet’s decision on the matter once the decision has been made.

The President’s Office has instructed all government offices to propose any matters that could result in public paying any fee or charge, to the Cabinet through the line ministry. The President’s Office made the instruction in a directive issued today.

The directive state that any information regarding the matters proposed the Cabinet should not be made public before the Cabinet issues a final decision on the matter.

The directive issued by the President’s Office also instruct all government departments to execute the decisions of the Cabinet once the President’s Office informs the relevant ministries of the decision.