MPs need more time for Ibthihaal investigation

The Majlis government accountability committee requires more time to determine possible state negligence regarding the death of three-year-old Mohamed Ibthihaal last week.

Committee member Rozaina Adam said that the committee first received documents and reports from the state institutions regarding the case when arriving at today’s sitting.

“The reports were not emailed to committee members before the sitting,” said Rozaina. “We had to read them while at the committee so we did not have adequate time to map out a course of action according to the contents of the documents”.

The Maldivian Democratic Party MP noted that the report sent by the police did not include any information relating to Ibthihaal before his death, only detailing the actions by the service afterwards.

“We have no choice but to ask representatives from police to come and clarify the information to the committee,” she said.

Local authorities and the police and gender ministry were both aware of the abuse prior to the child’s death, the island council has revealed, though the government has assured that Ibthihaal was in a safe environment when officials last visited the island.

However, Rozaina noted today that the Ministry of Law and Gender has no documents to substantiate these claims.

“The gender ministry says they handed the child over to a relative, but they have no records of doing so and the relative denies having been handed over guardianship. There are documents and forms that need to be filled if gender assigns guardianship of a child to another person,” said the Addu-Meedhoo MP.

Closed committee

Rozaina also accused pro-government MPs of hampering the investigation, stating they “do not want to reveal any information that might find the government guilty of negligence”.

She also accused committee chair Riyaz Rasheed of conducting today’s sitting in violation of the Majlis’ rules of procedure by refusing to allow members of the press to witness proceedings.

Responding to these claims, Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Riyaz said that neither a motion to hold a closed door session nor an open one was proposed by any member, with the meeting adjourned before any such deliberations were made.

“At first I did not let media personnel inside the meeting room as some of the institutions requested their reports and documents be kept confidential, and before any committee member proposed to hold a closed door meeting or an open one, I ended the committee as most members requested further time to analyse the documents,” Riyaz stated.

The Vilifushi MP also said that the committee members would receive until next week to analyse the documents, after which he would schedule a sitting to proceed with the issue further.

Documents regarding Ibthihaal were requested from Rakeedhoo Island Council, the Maldives Police Services, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, the Ministry of Law and Gender, and the Family Protection Unit.

Multiple investigations into potential state negligence have begun after the authorities’ prior knowledge of the abuse became apparent.

Meanwhile, the 26-year-old mother of the child, Afiya Mohamed, was arrested in the afternoon hours of January 30, with media reporting that Rakeedhoo Magistrates Court had remanded her for 15 days.

Ibthihaal’s two siblings are currently in the care of family members, local authorities have said.

Related to this story

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Majlis begins investigation into Ibthihaal’s death

The government accountability committee investigation into the death of Mohamed Ibthihaal in Vaavu Rakeedhoo, has decided to collect relevant information from government ministries and other state institutions.

The motion to investigate into the death of the three-year-old, who was found dead on January 28 with signs of severe abuse, was proposed by opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Rozaina Adam and MP Ahmed Falah along with Jumhooree Party MP Moosa Nizar.

Multiple investigations into potential state negligence have begun after it emerged that authorities had prior knowledge of the abuse.

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Riyaz Rasheed, who chairs the government accountability committee, told Minivan News that some opposition MPs had initially proposed summoning relevant authorities to the committee.

“Later, after discussions all members of the committee agreed to collect relevant documents regarding the case to the committee and then to decide on proceeding further”, said the Vilufushi MP.

He also said that a date has not been set for the next committee sitting.

MDP MP Ibrahim Shareef stated that the committee decided to collect information and documents from Rakeedhoo Island Council, the Maldives Police Services, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), the Ministry of Law and Gender, and the Family Protection Unit.

“We will be sending out the letters requesting information tomorrow. After we receive them, the committee will analyse the first hand information,” Shareef stated.

State negligence?

Meanwhile, the 26-year-old mother of the child, Afiya Mohamed was arrested Friday (20 January) afternoon after having spent the previous 48 hours under police watch.  Media reported that Rakeedhoo Magistrates Court ordered 15 days of detention.

On Friday, a protest march circled the capital Malé to raise awareness of child abuse. Authorities are reported to have received record numbers of child abuse reports in the days since Ibthihaal’s death.

After local authorities revealed that both the police and the gender ministry had been aware of the abuse prior to the incident, Attorney General Mohamed Anil has said the child was living in a safe environment when officials last visited.

“He was not living with the mother when our team visited the island. He was in a safe environment. But we acknowledge that the situation was not properly monitored afterwards, which resulted in the child being returned to the mother,” Sun Online reported Anil as saying.

Ibthihaal’s two siblings are currently in the care of family members, local authorities have said.

Other than the government accountability committee’s inquiry, suspicions of state negligence in the case have prompted investigations from HRCM and the Prosecutor General’s Office.

NGO Advocating for the Rights of Children has pointed to deficiencies in the legal, judicial, and social sectors tasked with the protection of the rights of children, while the HRCM has condemned the state’s failure to protect him.

In another development, Haveeru has reported that police are investigating reports that Ibthihaal’s mother was raped three years ago.

Related to this story

Body of abused child found in Vaavu Rakeedhoo

State negligence investigated in death of Rakeedhoo child

ARC condemns “systematic flaws” after death of Rakeedhoo toddler


Budgetary constraints temporarily halt efforts to bring in foreign experts for CoNI report review

Efforts to bring in two international legal experts to review the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) report have been put on hold due to budgetary constraints, local media has reported.

The parliament’s Government Accountability Committee had attempted to seek the legal experts in order to look into the report of the controversial transfer of power in February 2012.

Parliament Secretary General Ahmed Mohamed was quoted as saying that there were no funds available to the committee in order to bring in the foreign experts.

The committee had earlier chosen a legal expert from Denmark’s Copenhagen university and two lawyers to review the report, who were scheduled to start on Friday and work for seven days, local media said.

Maldivian Democratic Party MP Ali Waheed said that the committee will make a decision and set a date based on “what is decided by the Parliament Speaker on the budgetary issues”.

Parliament Speaker Abdulla Shahid is currently abroad and is expected to return next week, according to local media.


President Waheed orders officials “shun” Parliament oversight committee

In a letter sent to Parliament Speaker Abdulla Shahid Sunday (January 20) President Mohamed Waheed stated that cabinet members, government officials, and members of the security forces will “shun” Parliament’s Government Accountability Committee, according to Haveeru.

Waheed stated that until Shahid ensures Majlis and Committee actions are “in line” with the Maldivian constitution and Parliament’s rules of procedure, government officials will not adhere to summons by the Committee on Oversight of the Government, reports Sun Online.

This continues the government’s trend of resistance to the Executive Oversight Committee probe of the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI).

The Committee is currently conducting an inquiry into the controversial transfer of power that took place February of last year. It has so far interviewed senior military officers, police officers and senior officials of both the current and former government. The former Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) chiefs have claimed that former President Mohamed Nasheed had no choice but to resign on February 7, 2012, following a police and military mutiny.

The Committee previously requested President Hassan to hand over statements of key figures of the former government and military officials given to CoNI.


Issue of unratified cabinet members on Majlis agenda

The People’s Majlis will on Monday consider the appointment of the three cabinet members who failed to gain the approval of the Government Accountability Committee last month, local media has reported.

On June 11, Dr Mohamed Muiz, Dr Mariyam Shakeela, and Dr Ahmed Jamsheed failed to gain the approval of the 11 member committee, despite it being dominated by parties from the unity government, although the committee did approve Dhiyana Saeed as the Minister for Gender.

The posts for the new portfolios with the Ministries of Health, Housing, and Environment were left to the full Majlis to deliberate upon after pro-government Jumhoory Party (JP) MP Alhan Fahmy voted with the Maldivian Democratic Party committee members.

Just before the June vote, the JP announced its intention to forward its new President Dr Ibrahim Didi as Health Minister, the post currently held by Jamsheed whilst he awaits his re-appointment to the slightly altered post.


Parliament urged to vote against Bari

The parliamentary committee assigned to review Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari’s reappointment as Islamic Minister has advised against the recommendation.

Nine out of 11 members of the Government Accountability Committee voted against Bari’s reappointment.

According to committee member Villufushi MP Riyaz Rasheed, only four members of ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) voted for Bari’s appointment. Meanwhile, four opposition MPs voted against it. Committee chair Hanimaadhoo MP Mohamed Mujthaz tipped the vote.

Riyaz told Haveeru news that the committee made its decision based on the assertion that Bari earlier resigned from the position without a valid reason.

Bari first resigned as Adhaalath Party’s Scholars Council President on September 29, and then stepped down as the Islamic Minister on October 3 when the party decided to sever coalition ties with MDP. He was reappointed on October 9.