Leaked HRCM report questions Supreme Court’s election annulment

A leaked Human Rights Commission (HRCM) report obtained by Minivan News has questioned the credibility of the evidence used by the Supreme Court to annul the first round of presidential polls held on September 7.

It also says that the apex court does not have the authority to delineate guidelines for a re-vote.

The document suggests that the 16 guidelines compromise the independence of the Elections Commission (EC) by involving various state institutions and candidates in the conducting, managing, and facilitating of the elections.

A member of the HRCM has confirmed that the organization carried out an analysis of the Supreme Court verdict, but declined to comment on the report’s authenticity.

The court annulled the September 7 polls, claiming 5641 cases of fraudulent votes – a number that could have altered the election result due to the 2677 vote margin between the second and third placed candidates.

However, the HRCM’s analysis of the 5641 cases show only 1033 votes could be considered irregular.

“The commission does not believe this is a number than can affect the elections results,” the report stated.

The document also noted the Supreme Court is tasked with administration of justice and the People’s Majlis with law making powers, and as such the Supreme Court did not have the authority to compile guidelines on electoral conduct.

“We note that the Supreme Court’s guidelines include obligations that are not present in General Elections Act (No 11/2008) and Presidential Elections Act (No 12/2008) and we believe the Supreme Court does not have the jurisdiction [to issue new obligations],” the report said.

The police halted the Supreme Court ordered re-vote on October 19, saying they would not support the election after the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and Jumhooree Party (JP) had refused to approve the voter registry.

Irregular votes

The four judges making the majority decision contended that 5641 irregular votes were cast. According to the verdict, these included:

  • 773 people with discrepancies in their national identification numbers
  • 18 dead people
  • 7 minors
  • 225 people without national identification numbers
  • Three people who voted twice
  • 2830 people with discrepancies in their addresses
  • 952 people with discrepancies in their names
  • 7 people who were not registered in the Department of National Registration’s (DNR) database
  • 819 people whose national identification numbers had been written down incorrectly by elections officials at the time of voting

In the HRCM’s analysis, only 1033 of the 5641 votes could be considered irregular – a figure which addressed:

  • The seven people whose names were added to the voter registry by pen may have been to ensure an eligible voter was given the right to vote despite not being on the voter registry
  • 3 repeated votes for which the report said it was unclear how many times these people voted and hence, incomplete information should not be used in a verdict
  • 2830 address mismatches: “We do not believe address mismatches can influence the result of this election as this is not constituency specific,” the report said and noted that such information should be used in a verdict only if the individual has used this mismatch to violate another’s right to vote or used the information for undue benefit
  • 952 name mismatches which may have been used to ensure that an eligible voter is not disenfranchised, especially if the voter is given the right to vote when all other information and picture on the identity card matches the person who comes to vote
  • 819 people whose national identification numbers had been written down wrong by elections officials at the time of voting: this may be a human errors and can be crosschecked at the time of voting

The report states that the remaining 1033 cases of irregular votes does not change the outcome of the election.

In contrast to majority four judges, Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and Judge Abdulla Areef found only 473 instances of irregular votes. The two judges said the amount was not enough to invalidate entire election. In case of fraudulent votes, only the result in a specific geographic location can be annulled, not the entire election, the judges said.

The two judges also argued jurisdiction in the matter lies with the High Court, not the Supreme Court.


The HRCM report noted that the Supreme Court guidelines included obligations that are not included in the election laws.

These include obtaining candidate’s signatures on the voter registry, obtaining candidate’s approval for all elections officials active in the polling booths on polling day, and the prohibition on the use of files, phones, handbags or any item that may infringe upon a candidate’s rights.

The EC may find it difficult to implement the guidelines, as they do not state what the commission must do in the event candidates refuse to vet elections officials or sign the registry, the report said.

“Further, the prohibition on the use of phones and files inside the polling booth obstructs the duties of observers, candidate’s representatives and monitors as per article 41, 42 and 43 of the General Elections Act,” the report said.

The Supreme Court also ordered the EC to ensure, along with “relevant authorities” that acts which violate this guideline do not take place. However, the HRCM report notes that the relevant authorities are not defined and hence, “it is not clear what various state institution’s roles are in elections and may create additional issues.”

The HRCM report appears to foreshadow the difficulties the EC was to face in conducting the poll on October 19. On the eve of elections, the PPM and JP refused to sign the voter registry demanding that the EC verify a sample of fingerprinted re-registration forms.

The EC said it did not have the capacity or time to crosscheck fingerprints.

With the PPM and JP refusing to approve the voter registry, the police – mandated by the court to oversee security of ballot papers and boxes – refused to transport materials to polling stations. An hour before polls opened, the police stopped EC officials from leaving the commission’s headquarters with any documents relating to the vote.

The commission yesterday released a statement arguing that the police’s blocking of the vote contravened the constitution, the Police Act, and the Elections Act.

The EC also accused the police of obstructing vote, questioning their mandate to do so. The guidelines only ask police to oversee security of ballot boxes in transit, the EC said.

“The Supreme Court 16 guidelines delineated in the verdict are restrictions. These are locks, blocks. With those locks, it will be very difficult for us to hold elections,” EC President Fuwad Thowfeek has said in an interview to Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC).

“But if we could hold an election according to the constitution, elections laws and presidential elections laws, we will be able to hold a free election.”

After cancellation of polls on Saturday, the government, following international pressure appealed again for an early election date. The EC set a new presidential poll date for November 9, and if necessary a second round on November 16.

Speaking to the press yesterday, Thowfeek has said he hopes the government finds a solution to the Supreme Court’s restrictions in the future.

“Otherwise, holding elections will become impossible and that affects the most fundamental [right] in a democracy,” Thowfeek said. Further, failure of candidates or any other state institution to do what they must to should not affect the citizenry’s right to vote, he added.


‘Leaked’ police intelligence report “baseless speculation”: MDP

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has slammed a leaked police intelligence report circulating on social media alleging election impropriety as “baseless speculation”.

The report (Dhivehi) alleged “some opportunity for fraud” and “illegal voting”, claiming 18,486 irregularities on the voter registry including 588 dead people, 1865 individuals without national identity cards, 39 underage cases and 10,023 address mismatches.

Police have declined to comment on the authenticity of the report, but said such a report could not have been leaked from their offices. Attorney General Azima Shakoor has used the report’s findings in an ongoing Supreme Court case filed by third place candidate Gasim Ibrahim to annul September’s presidential polls.

MDP spokesperson Imthiyaz ‘Inthi’ Fahmy claimed the report’s arguments were “baseless allegations, lies manufactured by senior policemen who overthrew the country’s first democratically elected government.”

President Mohamed Nasheed resigned publicly in February 2012 after sections of the police and military mutinied, took over state media, vandalised MDP offices and beat MDP supporters. Nasheed is now the front-runner in September’s presidential polls with 45.45 percent of the vote. Run-off elections are set for September 28.

International and domestic observers have praised a free and fair election process in the Maldives, and have called for a the second round of polling to proceed as planned.

“Every election will have small irregularities. But none of those highlighted will affect the outcome,” Imthiyaz noted.


The report compared the voter’s registry published on May 30, changes in voter registry on June 29, to the Department of National Registration’s database.

“It is not possible to say with certainty whether people acted on [irregularities] noted, unless we are able to check the list of voters used at voting booths,” the report noted. However, it contends “opportunity exists” for repeated voting, the dead and underage voting and usage of fake identity cards.

The report also raises questions over the high voter turnout, the Elections Commission’s database security, usage of counterfeit ballot papers, and presence of foreign staff at the EC on voting day.

“The election of 2008 was one in which many people desired change and voted. However, polls during this election show a high percentage of undecided voters. Even in the 2008’s runoff election when people wanted change, the turn out was 86 percent. That 88 percent people voted this time can be questioned,” the report read.

Police intelligence had alerted the commission on attempts to hack into its server, but no action had been taken, the report alleges. But, the police are “not certain if compromising information was leaked” but believe the server contained sensitive information.

The report recommends publication of the list of those who had voted on September 7, an audit of the EC’s servers, random sampling of ballot papers to check authenticity, increase in security features on the ballot papers, block foreign staff’s access to the EC on voting day and a recount.

“Based on the above, we believe there are things that may affect results of the election, and therefore believe a recount of votes may assuage doubts and decrease incidence of violence,” the report said.

The EC had previously acknowledged attacks on its server, but refuted claims of security breach and dismissed fears raised by the Jumhooree Party (JP) and Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM)’s fears that foreign IT workers would be given access to electoral databases.

Ongoing court case

Jumhooree Party (JP) candidate Gasim Ibrahim is seeking to annul the results of the first round in the Supreme Court, after narrowly missing the run off with 24.07 percent of the vote.

The PPM has sided with the JP in court, while Attorney General Azima Shukoor has intervened on behalf of the government and called for police to investigate the EC.

The EC has so far disputed allegations of electoral impropriety, noting that allegations raised so far even if factual would have no material effect on the outcome of the first round, and pointed to unanimous endorsement of the election’s credibility by local and international observers.


MDP questions legitimacy of leaked security force reform proposals

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has questioned the legitimacy of a paper leaked on social media allegedly detailing plans to transfer and reform police and military powers should it win the upcoming presidential election.

MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said the party was not aware of having produced any document outlining police reforms as mentioned in local media, despite pledging a ”transitional arrangement” to reform security services in line with recommendations in the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) report.

Sun Online reported today that a policy paper, alleged to have been assembled by the MDP in collaboration with former defence chiefs, had been leaked on social media detailing efforts to “neutralise the powers” of the police and military .

Among the proposals said to be included in the paper are the transfer police to the authority of city councils, similar to the US model, while salaries and allowances of officers would be provided through the Local Government Authority (LGA).

The draft is also said to favour creating a national intelligence agency run from the President’s Office, replacing the current police intelligence department, while police forensic activities would be undertaken at Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) in Male’, according to Sun.

Additionally, the draft reportedly calls for limits to powers granted under the Police Act by limiting the number of branches within the MPS and “dramatically” reducing officer numbers to a force capable of controlling traffic and protests. Local media reported that the report had been compiled to address fears the entire police institution was “anti-MDP”.

MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said he had seen media coverage of the report, but was not aware of efforts within the party to draw up such a document, suggesting its content had been “fabricated”.

He claimed the MDP was presently focused on campaigning for the presidential election scheduled for September 7, while also overseeing what the party called voter protection measures through the use of observers and registration programmes.

While dismissing knowledge of the leaked reform paper, Ghafoor said the party had considered the need for a “transitional agreement” for reforms of the country’s security forces based on recommendations raised in last year’s CoNI report.

“Coup” allegations

The MDP has continued to accuse the country’s security forces of helping orchestrate a “coup e’etat” on February 7, 2012, leading to former President Mohamed Nasheed controversially resigning from office and being later replaced by his then Vice President Dr Moahmed Waheed.

The resignation came after sections of the police and military mutinied against the president on February 7 – a development rejected by the CoNI report, which concluded that the administration of President Waheed had come to power legitimately and not through an alleged coup.

With the CoNI process concluded, Ghafoor accused the Commonwealth and the wider international community of failing to ensure reforms to strengthen democratic institutions called for in the report’s findings were met.

He alleged that the Maldives Police Service (MPS) had failed to fully be transferred from a militarised to civil institution dating back to the administration of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s before the country’s first multi-party democratic election in 2008.

“Gayoom had moved to separate the military and police into different bodies. In the end, he failed to do this adequately,” Ghafoor said.

Despite pledging to reform the police and military, the MDP said it was not planning a “witch-hunt”.

According to Ghafoor, the MDP was instead focused on trying to secure a “huge election majority” in order to carry out reforms with the mandate of the public.

“This will help solve everything,” he said.

Minivan News was at time of press awaiting a response from Police Integrity Commission (PIC) Director General Fathimath Sareera Ali Shareef over the allegations and reforms within the police since last February’s power transfer.

Internal investigations

In June this year, the PIC announced it had concluded investigations into allegations of police brutality against demonstrators of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) on February 8, 2012, submitting six cases for prosecution – recommending administrative action by the home ministry against those officers.

However, the police disciplinary board later decided not to take any administrative action against five officers facing criminal prosecution.

According to a status update from the PIC on June 6, the commission had investigated 29 cases of police brutality before forwarding six cases for prosecution.

PIC Vice Chair Haala Hameed told parliament’s Government Oversight Committee on June 4 that the commission had urged then-Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed to suspend the accused officers immediately.

However, Hameed said that the request was not adhered to and at least one of the accused officers was promoted.

Hameed said the commission had failed to identify the police officers in five of the remaining cases while 11 other cases lacked supporting evidence.

Former PIC Chair Shahinda Ismail – who resigned citing failure to hold police accountable for human rights violations – explained to Minivan News in September 2012 that article 44 of the Police Act allows the home minister to ignore PIC recommendations if the commission is informed in writing.