40 Somali castaways sent back home after four years

Police have said that 40 Somali castaways that were found in the Maldivian EEZ on different occasions since December 2009 have been sent back to their country.

The police said that all these people were accommodated in Dhoonidhoo Police Custodial remand centre under police charge during their time in the Maldives.

Police said that the Somalis were successfully sent back after cooperation between the government and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

A joint operation was conducted with police Serious and Organized Crime Department, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Aviation Security to send them back, police said.

According to police, the Somalis were sent in a chartered flight and were accompanied with security officers.

The police said that the 40 Somalis included seven castaways rescued on December 2009, another five castaways rescued in the same month.

In 2010, authorities rescued seven Somali nationals on May 26, six were rescued on June 5, two on July 2, seven on November 28. Three more were rescued on 30 November 2010 and another three castaways rescued on December 2011.

In March 2012, a then-senior government official told Minivan News that the castaways under the custody of Maldivian authorities had refused to return home despite arrangements that were made for their safe repatriation.

According to the government official, who spoke to Minivan News on condition of total anonymity, the government had devoted “immeasurable amount of time and effort” over the past three years to safely repatriate several Somali nationals who have been discovered in Maldivian waters in dinghies lost at sea.

A delegation from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) delegation arrived in the Maldives in 2012 to confirm the Somali’s preferences as no refugee can be repatriated without consent under the international conventions.

The Maldives cannot resort to the option of forced repatriation as Somalia is recognised as an unsafe state.

Maldives has not ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol citing “financial and technical capacity constraints” but the convention prohibits all states, regardless of whether they have acceded it, from returning a “refugee to a territory where his or her life or freedom is threatened”.


Haa Alif Atoll councillors allegedly assaulted in Dhidhoo

Haa Alif Atoll councillors were allegedly attacked yesterday by island councillors of Dhidhoo together with a few young men from the island, following a vote of no-confidence against the chair of the atoll council.

An atoll councillor told Minivan News on condition of anonymity that the dispute between the island and atoll councils centered around the vacant residence used by the former Atoll Chiefs.

“The Haa Alif Atoll Province Office gave us the building to stay in because atoll council members were elected from different islands, and we all had to move to Dhidhoo because that is where the atoll council has to hold meetings,” he explained.

The dispute began after island councillors claimed the building for their purposes but were overruled by the Province Office, he said.

“This has been going on for a while,” he said. “While we were staying there with the authorisation of the state, the island councilors broke in and threw us out, and they changed the locks on the doors. Then we had to wait two days without proper sleep, shelter or food.”

The incident led the atoll councillors to move a motion of no-confidence against the chair of the council, who is from Dhidhoo.

“We passed the no-confidence motion and the island councilors came with eight or nine young people in the island and attacked us,” he claimed. “Three of the atoll councillors were injured, but no major injuries were caused.”

Following the incident, he added, atoll councilors were told by the government to move back to their islands until further notice.

“Now all the councilors have moved back to their own islands and we are thinking of ways to conduct our work even while staying in different islands,” he said.

A Dhidhoo island councillor, Abdulla Waheed, however dismissed the allegations and insisted none of the events took place.

Waheed said the atoll councilors were staying in the ‘Atoll House’ unlawfully and claimed that electricity bills had not been paid for the past eight months.

“It is the property of the island council and it has been a month since the atoll councillors were told to hand the building over to the island council because it does not have an adequate place to work,” he said.

The situation in Dhidhoo was “calm and normal” in the wake of the dispute between the councils, he said.


Two men arrested for secretly filming a couple having sex

Police have arrested two islanders from Utheemu in Haa Alifu Atoll, after they allegedly filmed a husband and wife while they were inside their room having sex.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam confirmed that the arrests was made.

“The two of them were arrested following a report received by police that they had secretly filmed and watched a husband and wife while they were inside their room having sex,” Shiyam said, adding that he could not reveal further information as the investigation was ongoing.

Councilor of Utheemu Asrar Adam told Minivan News that the men were “caught red-handed” at midnight on Monday.

“A person living in the house came out to have a cigarette and saw the two of them trying to watch the husband and wife,” Asrar said. “The next day police arrived on our island and arrested them.”

Asrar identified the men arrested as Mohamed Hassan, 26. and Ali Munaz, 21.

“Islanders of Utheemu have been suspicious that these men have been watching the toilets of houses in the island and have been secretly filming while girls are inside,” he said.

Asrar said police have not officially shared any information with the council regarding the incident, and the council was only aware of other allegations made by islanders.

“No one has officially reported it to the council,” he noted.

He added that one of the suspects, Mohamed Hassan, 26, was the vice president of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s Utheeemu Wing.

Asrar said that the detention period of the arrested pair had been extended by the court, according to information he had received.


Elderly businessman allegedly murdered in Hoarafushi

A prominent businessman and seller of oil and hardware products has been found dead inside an abandoned house on Hoarafushi in Haa Alifu Atoll.

Police believe that 70 year-old Hussain Mohamed Manik may have been murdered.

An official from the island office told Minivan News that the body was discovered by the caretaker of the building last night.

“There were no injuries on the outside his body,’’ said the island official. ‘’He is from another island but has lived in Hoarafushi for a long time.’’

He said the incident had triggered uproar among the islanders.

“I heard that some of the islanders set huts belonging to gangs on fire. They believe that gangs were involved in this,’’ he said.

Local media reported that Manik’s hands were tied behind his back with rope, and that the body was lying on the ground in a prone position when discovered.

The island official said that it had rained heavily last night, and that  “nobody goes out in the rain. The streets would probably have been empty.”

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said police had received the report this morning.

“We are currently investigating the case and it is very difficult to disclose any information,’’ Shiyam said, adding that the team dispatched to the island included Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh, Deputy Commissioner Mohamed Rishwan and a team from of Serious and Organised Crime department.

President Mohamed Nasheed meanwhile expressed concern over the alleged murder. In statement from the President’s Office Nasheed sent “his deep condolences to the members of the bereaved family” and instructed the Maldives Police Service to “thoroughly investigate” the case.


Knife misses boy’s heart by millimetres, says doctor

A 16 year-old boy has been stabbed in the chest in a gang fight between two groups on the island of Baarah in Haa Dhaalu Atoll.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said two boys in connection with the case were under arrest.

”The injured boy has been admitted to Kulhudhufushi regional hospital,” said Shiyam.

Dr Ali Hakim who attended to the injured boy first, when he was admitted to Baarah health centre said that the boy was stabbed ”just a little bit below the heart.”

Dr Hakim said that the boy was still in hospital’s intensive care unit.

”This condition is progressing now,” said Dr Hakim, adding that he expected the boy to recover.

He said that the boy had internal bleeding and that he was stabbed “very deep”.

Councilor of Baarah, Ali Shameem, said the two groups involved were school students.

”They had some problem between them and fought in school also that morning,” Shameem said. ”It heated and they continued the fight that evening.”

Shameem said two boys were injured during the incident.

”One had a cut in his forehead,” he said. ”He was not badly injured but the other boy who was stabbed in the chest was very seriously injured.”

He said police were still investigating the case.


HRCM health survey concluded

In preparation for the Universal Periodic Review, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) has concluded a survey which explores the status of health services in Haa Alifu and Haa Dhaal Atolls, reports Miadhu.

The information was collected in Dhidhdhoo, Kelaa and Muraidhoo in Haa Alif Atoll, and Kulhudhuffushi and Hanimaadhoo of Haa Dhaal Atoll.

The HRCM has gathered NGOs, health facility chiefs and members of the public to produce a report to assess the status of the government’s medical insurance programme and the availability of services in health facilities.

The report is being prepared for the Universal Periodic Review of the Maldives which will be held in September 2010 at the UN Human Rights Council.