Home minister and pro-government MPs discuss legislative steps to curb gang activity

Home Minister Umar Naseer has begun meetings with pro-government MPs about necessary amendments to the laws in the initiative to inhibit gang-related criminal activity.

Naseer met with parliamentarians from ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) in Muleeaage yesterday (October 14), as well as meeting with Jumhooree Party parliamentarians at their main campaign offices.

The proposed changes include amendments to the act on stopping gang-related crimes and to laws prohibiting the carrying of sharp weapons as well as a temporary act on stopping gang activity, Naseer told local media.

“The delay in tackling gang related crimes is a deep concern even of parliamentarians. We have now had the chance to confer with them and see what their thoughts on the matter are,” Naseer said.

“Reactions from parliamentarians of both Jumhooree Party and Progressive Party of Maldives were positive to my recommendations. At the moment, I cannot share further details of the suggested changes,” Umar Naseer told Minivan News today.

Earlier in the week, however, Naseer explained to local media some of the changes he proposed to bring to these acts.

Changes include the introduction of “soft curfews” on identified gang members, changes in the process of completing an investigation, in taking the matter to court, and in the completion of criminal cases in court.

“The problem is the period between these two regimes. After police concludes an investigation and the case is sent to court, it sometimes takes from 2 to 3 to even 10 years before the court presides over the case,” he is quoted as saying.

Naseer has previously spoken of concerns about the lack of cooperation between police and the Criminal Court.

On August 4, Naseer stated in parliament that a “special police operation” was ongoing to curb gang violence in the capital following a spate of violent assaults in recent days.

He went on to suggest that the problem was exacerbated by insufficient police resources, revisions being required for certain laws, and drug trafficking.

Special efforts from police resulted in the dismantling of ‘gang huts’ around the capital, before President Abdulla Yameen called a halt to the process, announcing that the government would instead seek more comprehensive solutions to the issue.

Following his unsuccessful campaign in the 2013 PPM presidential primary, Umar Naseer accused fellow candidate Yameen of having links to criminal gangs and the drug trade. Since being appointed home minister, however, Naseer has retracted these accusations.

The home minister announced in September that the police had identified about 30 gangs, with 50 gang leaders and 500 gang members operating in the country, especially on the streets of Malé.

He added that 13 of these 30 gangs can be considered as “highly dangerous”.

He said at the time that the government is planning an ‘attack’ to address the increase in gang related crimes – including assault, murder, and drug offences.

The issue of gang violence has become increasingly prominent in recent years, with stabbings and intimidation of journalists covering these crimes becoming commonplace.

A series of attacks on the offices and homes of journalists and MPs last month prompted concern from the EU at the level of gang activity in the country, while a private investigation into the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan suggested radicalised gangs may have been involved.

2012 study of the Maldives’ gang culture by the Asia Foundation revealed that “political and business elites” exploit gangs to carry out a range of illegal activities including the suppression of opponents and carrying out tasks to help maintain popularity or divert media attention from political issues.


Home Minister fails to attend court, leaves on official trip to source sniffer dogs, body scanners

Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer has failed to attend a second court hearing into charges of disobedience to order.

The Home Ministry has reported Naseer left the country last night on an official trip to the Netherlands to source sniffer dogs and body scanner machines for airport security purposes.

Naseer is accused of calling for 2,000 volunteers to storm the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) headquarters with 50 ladders on January 23, 2012 during two weeks of protests following the military’s controversial detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

Judge Abdulla Didi, who is presiding over Naseer’s case, warned action will be taken against the minister if he fails to attend the next hearing of the case, scheduled to be held on Thursday, June 12.

“I sincerely appeal to you not to force us to have the minister placed under detention and presented to court,” Abdulla Didi said to Naseer’s lawyer, Adam Asif, in court today.

The Home Ministry, however, said it had notified the court in advance that Naseer will be out of the country from June 9 to June 16. The Criminal Court has rescheduled hearings in previous cases if any of the parties are unable to attend.

But the judge stated that Naseer had gone abroad previously on an official trip after receiving summons for the last scheduled hearing.

Although the Home Ministry had sent letters notifying the court of Naseer’s absence from the capital in advance, Judge Didi said he did not accept the justification.

Today’s hearing had been scheduled after the Home Ministry had assured that Naseer will be in Male’ from June 8, Didi said adding that he did not accept Naseer’s absence for an official trip as a sufficient reason for a second absence.

The Home Ministry’s official website has issued statement saying that Naseer will be in the Netherlands until June 16 on an official trip.

During the trip, he will be meeting with OD Security – a company which builds body scanners to combat drugs and terrorism, and the K10 Working Dogs – a canine supplier for global government agencies.

Naseer is also scheduled to visit Abu Dhabi on the trip, where he will be meeting with the United Arab Emirates Minister of Interior Lt General Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.


Home Minister Umar Naseer to run for presidency in 2023

Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer has announced he will run for the presidency in 2023 and has pledged to back President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom for re-election in 2018.

“I am not a political threat to President Yameen. I am ready to work to help President Yameen get re-elected to presidency in 2018. What I may have said before, and the competition that existed between us before is a completely different matter. That has come to an end,” he said in an interview on state broadcaster Television Maldives’ Friday variety show ‘Heyyambo.’

Naseer lost to Yameen in the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) presidential primaries in 2013 and alleged the primaries were rigged. He accused Yameen of illicit connections with gangs and the illegal drug trade and vowed to bring a “white revolution” within the party.

The PPM expelled Naseer from the party and he backed Jumhooree Party (JP) Leader Gasim Ibrahim in the 2013 presidential elections. Naseer was appointed to the cabinet when Gasim’s backing proved crucial in PPM’s second round win.

Speaking on Heyyambo, Naseer said Yameen will “have no reason to contest again” by 2023 and said he himself will run for the presidency then. The Maldives constitution limits presidential terms to two five year terms.

Naseer ran for the presidency in 2008 and won 2,472 votes.

Coalition friction

Naseer expressed confidence that he will be able to sort out any differences within the government coalition, pointing to his prior experience working with Yameen and Gasim.

Friction within the coalition became apparent with Gasim warning the PPM against betrayal in a rally on April 13.

But Naseer asserted that Yameen and Gasim are working together in the national interest.

He also dismissed competitive words exchanged between the two coalition partners in the lead up to the 2013 presidential elections as “an attempt to choose the best leader from among those sharing the same ideology”, and said personal ambition has now “taken a backseat and national interest is what drives [us] today”.

“Although we walked over each other in the race to select a leader amongst those of us who holds the same ideology, once we have come out to the actual national race we have removed our personal jerseys and donned the national jersey. Today we are playing in the national uniform,” he said.

Extradite offenders

Naseer said he will amend laws which require police to present detainees to the Criminal Court with 24 hours of arrest and spoke of plans to extradite Maldivian offenders.

Maldivian offenders will not be able “to hide in any corner of the world,” Naseer said.

“No offender should delude themselves into thinking that they can flee from the Maldives and peacefully live elsewhere. That cannot be done. The first topic of discussion that I take up with leaders, Home Ministers and police leaders of every country I travel to is that in the instance there is a runaway Maldivian offender in the country, they should arrest them immediately and turn them over to the Maldivian authorities.”

He also spoke about a recent police raid where 79 youth were arrested from the island of Anbaraa during a musical festival, where all detained were reported to have tested positive for illicit drugs.

It is permissible for Maldivians to go on picnics, play loud music and have fun, Naseer said.

“But, there cannot be the abuse of drugs or consumption of alcohol. There cannot be DJs. If these kinds of things are being done, the police will go in and stop the activities. What I am saying is, you can party, but you cannot ‘Ambaraa'”.

Referring to the controversial order he had made unto the Maldives Correctional Services to implement death penalty, Naseer asserted that he had done so only on prior discussions with the President.

The Attorney General is currently drafting regulations for implementation of the death penalty on the cabinet’s request, he said. The government would only implement the death penalty if the Supreme Court upholds the sentence, he reiterated.

Speaking on the illegal drug trade, Naseer alleged that “powerful gangs from neighbouring countries” are involved in smuggling drugs into the Maldives.

Naseer identified population dispersion as the biggest obstacle for development and called for population consolidation.

“If the desired development is to be brought about, the approximately 400,000 inhabitants of this country will have to start living on three or five islands. We cannot bring the development otherwise,” he said.


Death penalty implementation “not advisable” without cabinet, parliament approval: AG

Implementation of the death penalty “is not advisable” without cabinet and parliamentary approval, Attorney General Mohamed Anil has told local media.

Last week, Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer ordered the Maldives Correctional Services to prepare for the implementation of the death penalty through lethal injection, despite the lack of laws administering capital punishment.

Naseer said he had sought advice from Anil before signing the order, but Anil refused to comment on the matter.

Instead, he said Naseer’s order had not been discussed in the cabinet. Anil has called for an advisory mechanism within the cabinet stating that the president of a Muslim country bears a personal responsibility in the implementation of death sentences.

“It is crucial that there is an established mechanism through which the cabinet of ministers has a role, and the president gets the opportunity to make an informed decision about the matter. However, the order recently released by the Home Minister was not conducted through such a process,” Anil said.

The best method to implement death penalty is through legislation passed by the parliament, he added.

Although the current legislative framework does not mandate legislation for the implementation of death penalty, Anil said broad and in-depth discussions needed to take place before the change in policy.

Since 1954, Maldives has had a moratorium on the death penalty, with the president commuting death sentences to life imprisonment.

“When we are bringing about such a huge change in policy, there are discussions that we must undertake within the cabinet, as well as with the Parliament. I do not believe it is the best thing to do to implement such a sentence at this moment without first going through these motions,” he said.

Former Attorney General Azima Shakoor had drafted a bill on the administration of the death penalty, but the government does not have a time frame to submit the bill to parliament, Anil said.

Once the parliament passes the bill, the death penalty can be implemented in retrospect, he added.

High crime rates in recent years has lead to widespread public support for the death sentence, Anil claimed.

“The rate of crime is rapidly increasing in the Maldives. This includes crimes of a heavily serious nature. Things are escalating to the point where individuals do not even hesitate when committing crimes,” he said.

“Therefore, I believe that the best medium through which we can get the general public’s view on the matter is through the parliament. It is imperative that the parliament holds a debate and comes to a decision on the matter.”

Anil also highlighted the importance of a responsible justice system, pointing out that implementation of such a sentence is in nature an irreversible act.

Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer said he wished to refrain from commenting on the matter at this stage.

Naseer’s order followed the passing of the death sentence on Hussain Humam Ahmed on charges of murdering the moderate religious scholar and MP Dr Afrasheem Ali in October 2012.

President Abdulla Yameen told local media on Friday that Naseer had released the order under his mandate, but without prior discussion with the cabinet. The cabinet would hold in depth discussions about the matter before coming to a final discussion, he added.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International has called on the Maldives to halt any plans to end the current moratorium on the death penalty, calling such moves “a retrogade step and a serious setback for human rights in the country”.

In May 2013, the UN country team also called for the abolition of death penalty in the Maldives, stating “in view of the country’s more than 50 year moratorium, the UN calls upon the Maldives to take the opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to its international human rights obligations, and abolish the death penalty”.

The last execution in the Maldives was the death of  Hakim Didi in 1954 who was sentenced to death for practicing black magic.


Religion and nationalism key themes on National Day

The government held an event inaugurated by Vice President Mohamed Jameel Ahmed at the Republican Square on Wednesday night to mark the Maldives’ 440th National Day.

The day is marked to celebrate the anniversary of the country’s independence from the Portugese invasion.

Members of the cabinet, foreign dignitaries, members of independent commissions as well as the security forces attended the event.

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom – who is currently in India on his first official trip abroad after assuming office in November 2013 – also gave a pre-recorded national address via the state broadcaster on the occasion.

In his address, the President stated no individual must be allowed the opportunity to take away the nation’s peace for political purposes or to gain personal benefit.

While it is important to view every citizen as a stakeholder in matters of the country, people should not be given the chance to challenge nationalism or conduct any activity that may threaten independence and sovereignty in the guise of freedom of expression or through differences in political opinions, Yameen continued.

“We must instill the spirit of nationalism in the younger generations who will inherit this country in future. The moral we must take away from National Day is for those in power and leading the country, citizens and all responsible leaders to raise national and community interest over personal interest as we work to overcome challenges. This is the example set by Mohamed Thakurufaanu [Maldivian ruler who saved the country from the Portuguese conqueres who ruled the country from 1558 to 1573]. This is the true meaning of his jihad in national interest back on that day,” Yameen stated.

“We must repeat the work our ancestors conducted in rain and shine. The reason we are to take breaths of independence today is due to the glorious jihad and sacrifices they made then for the sake of gaining independence. The country will not be able to take breaths of independence tomorrow unless we succeed in doing major work to overcome economic slavery and establish economic contentment,” he continued.

He pledged to fulfil his term serving all citizens equally and justly.

“I will make this government into one that is kind to its people, and loved by the people. I will bring swift changes as is desired by people and take the Maldives into a new era of development. My team and I will not be deterred in our work regardless of how rough the political seas we must cross become,” he concluded his address.

National Pride

“The spirit of nationalism can be maintained in its purest form only when social justice is established in the country,” Vice President Jameel said, speaking at Wednesday’s event.

The current government would work following the example set by Mohamed Thakurufaanu, Jameel said and called on citizens to protect the country’s independence and sovereignty.

“True nationalism can only be experienced with the improvement of living standards, and the country develops its health and education sectors,” he said.

“The nation must today be covetous of its national pride, of increasing self-sufficience, and should not let go of the national character. Today, if one has love for nationalism, one will not damage the country’s social fabric. One will not give away the country’s economic power into the hands of a foreign party. They will not sell off the national identity to a foreign group with no consideration towards national pride just for political gain. They will not let things go to the point where the country is stripped of the right to speak up about its own internal matters,” Jameel continued.

He appealed to the public to ensure that no one allows any other person to “damage the brotherly bonds between us in the name of establishing democracy, or in things that arise from differences in opinion, or any other cause”.

He then said that the day emphasizes the bridge between nationalism and islam in the country, adding that thus what must be given highest priority is the strengthening religious faith.

“Psychological war against religion, nationalism”

Home Minister Umar Naseer warned in his speech at the same event that there is an “ongoing psychological war aiming to lead astray our faith in Islam, and break up our ties of nationalism, a war that is escalating at a very fast speed”.

He stated that while this is a global danger, the Maldives is not far removed from being in its “line of fire”. Stating that the currently is already being affected by it, he appealed to all Maldivians to refrain from joining the “war” against the nation.

“For a Maldivian son to become a slave of this psychological war is like a cancer cell forming in the body of this nation. It is a huge danger,” he stated.

“It is important to become more independent in the country’s development work, and to give up depending on foreign labourers. There is no reason that the sons of fathers who scraped moss off the underside of fishing boats have to depend on a foreigner just to dust off their motorcycles,” the Home Minister said.

“Ours is a blessed land. It is a land that breeds heroes. Every time a foreign power has tried to meddle with our independence or our Islamic faith, Maldivian soil has brought out heroes that will cause the whole world to step back from,” Umar stated.

Irreligious acts are common today: Adhaalath Party

Religious conservative Adhaalath Party has also released a statement today, extending greetings on the occasion.

The statement spoke of the heroic events of Mohamed Thakurufaanu who had “slain the Portugese commander who had tried to force alcohol down the throats of pious Maldivians”, and then proceeded to compare heroes of the past with present day Maldives.

“The biggest difference is the mentality of Maldivians then and the mentality of Maldivians today. Then, when attempts were made to force alcohol down their throats, they resisted. Yet today, alcohol and narcotics is an epidemic which is alarmingly common among Maldivians,” it read.

“Then the Portuguese tried to force other religions unto Maldivians. Yet today, irreligious acts against Islamic norms are abundantly observed among Maldivians. This is not something the government can deal with by making it the mandate of a specific ministry, but a goal that all institutes must unite to reach.”


No-confidence vote against defence, home ministers scheduled for April 8

Parliament has scheduled a vote of no-confidence against Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim and Minister of Home Affairs Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed for April 8.

A vote to dismiss Jumhoree Party (JP) presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim from his position within the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has also been scheduled for April 9 during a parliament session held today (March 27).

Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim told Minivan News that all three motions had been submitted by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

“On the day of the vote, parliament will give the floor to the MDP to present its case. The ministers will then be given the opportunity to respond before parliament then opens the debate and votes on a decision.

“The MDP currently holds 29 seats in parliament, but it will require another ten for the ministers and Gasim to be removed from their positions. This has been undertaken before, a precedent has been previously set,” Nazim said.

The deputy speaker said that parliament had spoken to each of the party leaders in order to ask for all of their MPs to be present during the vote.

MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor stated that the party was confident both Nazim and Jameel would be removed from their posts.

In regard to the possibility of conducting no confidence votes through a secret ballot, Hamid said that he did not believe the votes would be submitted anonymously following the supreme court ruling the practice unconstitutional.

On December 3, 2012, parliament voted 41-34 to approve amendments to the parliamentary rules of procedure to conduct no-confidence votes to impeach the President and remove cabinet members through secret ballot.

However, earlier in March, the Supreme Court ruled 6-1 to strike down the amendment to parliament’s standing orders as unconstitutional.

Local media reported on Wednesday that the MDP had asked for a vote to dismiss Gasim from the JSC under the reasoning that an individual campaigning for the presidential elections, should not be permitted to sit in the commission.

Last week, parliament sent a letter to Gasim notifying him of a submitted case to remove him from his post within the JSC.

The JSC formed the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court bench that is currently presiding over the trial against former President and MDP presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed.

Jameel failed to control peace and order in the country: MDP

In October last year, the MDP submitted its first motion against Home Minister Jameel over concerns from the party of what it called an “unprecedented” increase in murders and assault in the Maldives since the transfer of power.

Despite the MDP withdrawing the no-confidence motion against the home minister a month later in November for an unexplained reason, a second no-confidence vote was submitted by the party in December.

A statement issued by the MDP accused Jameel of failing to control civil peace and order in the country, which it said had led to the loss of eight lives.

The MDP further referred to an incident in which a man on a motorcycle was killed after a police officer struck a second motorcyclist with his baton, causing him to collide with the first.

The MDP alleged that Home Minister Jameel had tried to cover up police involvement in the death.

Speaking to Minivan News in December last year, Dr Jameel claimed he expected to successfully defend himself from the motion, as would other senior government representatives.

“[The no-confidence motion] is part of a democratic process that the government of the day must always be prepared to face. I feel it’s equally vital for those of us sitting in the government to inform the public and People’s Majlis of our performance and decisions.”

“I am sure once our side of the story is heard by the Majlis, the concerns and charges raised in the motion will become clearer and will be seen as baseless. It’s important in such a motion, in my opinion, to appear in the Majlis and fully cooperate with this democratic exercise,” he added.

Nazim misused his authority: MDP

In December 2012, the MDP filed no-confidence motions against Defence Minister Nazim, alleging that he had misused his authority as the Acting Transport Minister to influence the termination of civil contracts outside of due legal procedure.

The motion followed the government’s decision to void the agreement between itself and Indian infrastructure giant GMR over developing Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA).

Defence Minister Nazim, who temporarily took over the transport ministry following the sacking of former Transport Minister Dr Ahmed Shamheed, played a pivotal role in the eviction of GMR.

In a brief interview given to local media in December following the MDP’s decision to push a no-confidence motion against him, Nazim stated that move was a “desperate” attempt to weaken the government of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik.


Home Minister Dr Jameel appointed acting Minister of Economic Development

Minister of Home Affairs Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed has been appointed as acting Minister of Economic Development, the President’s Office has announced.

President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik appointed Jameel to the position pending the return of Minister Ahmed Mohamed, who is on an official visit abroad.


Parliament passes bill redefining limitations on freedom of assembly

Parliament on Tuesday (December 25) passed the bill on “Freedom of Peaceful Assembly” despite unanimous opposition from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). The legislation was first submitted by independent MP Mohamed Nasheed on 5 April 2012.

The bill, which was initially called ‘Freedom of Assembly Bill’ was passed on the parliament floor with 44 votes in favour, and 30 votes against.

Among the key features of the bill is the outlawing of demonstrations outside private residences and government buildings, limitations on media not accredited with the state and defining gatherings as a group with more than a single person.

One of the main stated objectives of the legislation is to try and minimize restrictions on peaceful gatherings, which it claims remain a fundamental right.

The legislation continues that any restrictions enforced by police or other state institutions on participants at a gathering must be proportionate actions as outlined under specific circumstances defined in the bill.

The bill also provides a definition for ‘Gathering’ in Article 7(a), stating it refers to more than one person, with the same objective, purposefully attending a public or private place temporarily and peacefully expressing their views there.

Article 9(a), meanwhile, defines ‘Peaceful’ in relation to a gathering as being one where the organizers have notified [authorities] that this is a gathering to achieve a peaceful purpose, and provided no acts of violence occur, nor are there any chants, writing or drawings encouraging violence used in the gathering. Additionally, in such a gathering, no acts violating any laws must be committed, nor encouraged. Nor should participants have any items on them which can potentially be used to commit acts of violence.

Section (b) of Article 9 rejects defining a gathering as ‘not peaceful’ on the basis of words or behaviour of certain participants during a protest that may be considered hateful or unacceptable by other persons.

Under the new bill, citizens are not allowed to hold gatherings within a certain distance of the headquarters of police and the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).

Demonstrations would also be outlawed within a certain distance of the residences of the president and the vice president, the offices of the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA), tourist resorts, harbours utilized for economic purposes, airports, the President’s Office, the courts of law, the Parliament, mosques, schools, hospitals and buildings housing diplomatic missions.

The bill also states that demonstrators wishing to protest against a specific individual, may not use megaphones, stand outside, or have a sit-down outside that person’s residence.

The regulation also states that although demonstrators do not need to seek authorization ahead of a gathering, police must be then notified of any pre-planned demonstrations before they commence.

Among the actions prohibited under the bill include an article stating that participants in a demonstration are not to have on them swords, knives, other sharp objects, wood, metal rods, batons, bleach, petrol, kerosene, any form of chilli (including dried or powdered), acid, explosives, any other items that can potentially be used as a weapon or any gear used by police for riot-controlling and peacekeeping.

Article 21 stipulates that participants will also not be allowed to cover their faces with masks, balaclavas or any other material which would prevent them from being identifiable.

The bill does guarantee organizers and participants of a gathering the right to decide where to hold a demonstration as well as choosing its objectives and the persons who are given the opportunity to speak during the protest.

The bill will not be applicable to activities, gatherings or meetings organized by state institutions, or those organized under any other law and to sports, games, business or cultural events.

According to the bill, if participants in a gathering have to face material or physical loss due to the negligence of police who must provide protection, then the police institution must provide compensation. It further adds that in such instances, the affected individual cannot be penalized for having taken part in the gathering.

The regulations also impose restrictions on police officers, preventing them from partaking in activities such as joining a gathering, displaying agreement or disagreement to messages or themes of a protest and ordering where or when to hold demonstrations.  Police officers are also prohibited from intervening in a gathering unless they are in uniform and states officers must not cover their faces unless as part of their riot gear under the bill.

Right to assemble

The bill also states that the right to assemble can be narrowed in the instances of a perceived threat to national security, or in order to maintain public safety as well as to establish societal peace in accordance with existing laws, to protect public health, to maintain levels of public discipline or to protect the rights and freedoms guaranteed to other individuals.

With regard to the media’s right to cover demonstrations, the bill adds that the Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) must draft a regulation on accrediting journalists within three months of the ratification of the Bill on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly. It is only those journalists who are accredited by the MBC who will be granted access to cover and report on gatherings and police activities in the vicinity.

If an accredited journalist is believed to partaking in the gathering’s activities, treating these journalists as equal to those assembled is left at the discretion of the police. The bill, however, does not define what could be considered such an act.

The Maldives Media Council and the Maldives Journalists Association have expressed concern over these stipulations on Wednesday.

The limitations defined in the bill will bring positive changes: Home Minister

Minister of Home Affairs Mohamed Jameel Ahmed has stated that the Freedom of Peaceful Assembly Bill would bring positive changes to the country’s political environment and that it would provide guidance to politicians.

“It’s been established today that every right comes with accompanying responsibilities. I believe even the constitution reflects these principles. However, these principles need to be broken down into a law that would bring convenience to the people. Some among us thought when the constitution came that these are limitless freedoms that we’ve got. These past days we have seen people acting under that belief,” Jameel was quoted as telling the Sun Online news service.

“Under the name of this freedom, they were violating the personal and individual rights and protections of citizens. They were going at people’s residences, gathering outside and yelling vulgarities at parents and families, depriving children and families of sleep. All under the excuse of freedom of assembly.”

The Home Minister said that this bill would bring necessary limits at a time when many undesirable activities were being carried out under the guise of freedoms. He noted that the freedom of assembly was granted within limits in all other developed countries.

Not an ideal time to tamper with fundamental rights: MDP

Responding to the claims, MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor expressed concern that the fundamental right to assemble was being limited through the bill at “a time like this.”

“It is not wise to tamper with constitutionally provided fundamental rights at a time like this, when we are in times of a coup. But even that can be understood only by persons who can at first understand democratic principles, of course,” Ghafoor said.

“We need time for the Maldivian psyche to be able to grasp the concepts of fundamental rights first.”

“Home Minister Jameel is a prescriptive, Salafiyya-educated, uncivilized man. He has never yet been able to partake in and win any elected posts, his statements hold no weight in the eyes of the people. He is a man who obviously does not even understand this very basic, fundamental concept,” Hamid said in response to Jameel’s statements in media about the freedom of assembly bill.

Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN), which is cited in the parliamentary committee report as an entity that provided written feedback on the bill was unable to comment on the bill at the time of press.

MDN said that the NGO had today received the final bill which had been passed by the parliament, and that they were currently reviewing it to establish how much of their recommendations had been featured in the final bill.

Minivan News tried to contact MP Mohamed Nasheed, who was not responding to calls at the time of press.

Chair of the committee MP Riyaz Rasheed and Vice Chair MP Ahmed Amir were also not responding to calls this evening.

Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) Vice President Ahmed Tholal’s phone was switched off at the time of press.