Dismissed Brigadier General Nilam files case with Human Rights Commission

Former Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam has filed a case with the Human Rights Commission (HRCM) relating to his suspension and eventual dismissal from service.

A ten-month suspension followed statements made by Nilam to the Majlis government oversight committee in January last year during which he claimed the February 2012 change of government had “all the characteristics of a coup”.

Nilam told Minivan News today that his case – submitted after unsuccessful attempt to take the issue through the courts – was important for both the MNDF and for democracy.

“I strongly believe that if I stay quiet, the upholding of democracy will not be there and subordinate soldiers will continue to get unfair punishments” the 26-year veteran explained.

He maintains that his career was ended in relation to his comments to the oversight committee – constitutionally protected under parliamentary privilege – which were later publicised by committee MPs.

Saying at the time of of Nilam’s dismissal in November that he had been relieved of duty for “violating MNDF duties and disciplinary norms, repeating acts that should not be seen from an MNDF officer, revealing secret information against military regulations, diminishing the honor of the MNDF, and sowing discord in the military”, the MNDF had no further comment to make on the matter today.

Nilam – formerly head of military intelligence – explained that around a dozen other soldiers were dismissed immediately after the February transfer of power, suggesting all of these cases breached the rights enshrined in the 2008 constitution.

“I love democracy – I want this country to be a democratic Islamic country and we are evading from it during the last two years,” he said.

Depending on the outcome of the commission’s report, Nilam pledged to take his case to the the relevant international bodies.

After effects

The fallout from the chaotic events of February 2012 continue more that two years on, with former President Mohamed Nasheed claiming earlier this week that the events had set a precedent that would have lasting effects.

“The legitimate means of changing regimes has been demonstrated in 2012. The Supreme Court has demonstrated how to interpret the constitution. With that legitimacy, both ourselves and those in power, we should not rule out the possibility that another group may overthrow the government,” he told Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters in Malé.

MDP MP Eva Abdulla has also called this week for Attorney General Mohamed Anil to appear before the Majlis in order to explain how his government is addressing the recommendations of the Commonwealth-backed national inquiry.

While dismissing the claims of mutiny among security forces and duress in Nasheed’s resignation, the CoNI report did recommend reform of the judiciary and security services, as well as prosecution of those security personnel found guilty of acts of brutality.

The CoNI was subsequently criticised by legal experts as being “selective”, “flawed”, and having exceeded its mandate, prompting a further parliamentary probe into the presidential transition.

Following its own investigations into the events of leading to Nasheed’s resignation, and the brutal police crackdown on his supporters the following day, the HRCM last December accused institutions of failing to implement the majority of its recommendations.

HRCM Vice President Ahmed Tholal told Minivan News today that the commission was due to release a further report into the extent to which stakeholders have complied with its advice in the coming weeks.

The commission was unable to discuss ongoing cases such as General Nilam’s, he explained.