New deputy minister appointed to the Home Ministry and the Economic Ministry

President Abdulla Yameen has appointed deputy ministers to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Economic Development.

According to a tweet from the President’s Office Spokesman Ibrahim Muaz, Ahmed Saleem was appointed to the post of deputy home minister and Abdulla Mohamed to the post of deputy economic minister.

Mohamed, who previously served as a state minister at the home ministry and the registrar of NGOs, was also vice president of the Civil Alliance Coalition of NGOs – Madhanee Iththihad – a group at the forefront of protests that led to the ousting of former President Mohamed Nasheed in 2012.

Saleem, who joined the Jumhooree Party during the 2013 presidential elections after previously serving as a council member of the Progressive Party of Maldives, has left the JP after the party signed an agreement with Maldivian Democratic Party to defend the Constitution last week.


Home Ministry opens up second call for newspaper, magazine re-registration

The Ministry of Home Affairs has opened up a second re-registration call for all news outlets and magazines.

The ministry had ordered all registered newspapers, news websites, magazines, and periodicals to re-register in October during the vote to elect members for the Maldives Media Council.

The order came after reporters complained over the eligibility of publications that were not in regular circulation to vote in the elections.

The ministry said it was opening up a second call due to popular requests. Media companies and news outlets must submit proof that they have been regularly publishing in the past six months.


Advance payment of €40,000 for police dog squad

The Maldives government has made a €40,000 (US$50,000) advance payment to a Netherlands-based company for the delivery of a dog squad to combat drug trafficking.

A police media statement explained that the payment was made to the Dutch company yesterday which is to be called ‘Faara Gema’.

Police also announced employment opportunities working at the ‘Faara Gema’ dog squad kennel which is to be located in Hulhumalé.

Police give the utmost importance and high priority towards fighting against drug use and trafficking and also establishing the ‘Faara Gema’ dog squad, read the press statement.

While speaking at a press conference last week, Police Drug Enforcement Department head, Chief Inspector Ahmed Shifan revealed plans to use the dog squad in the atolls during special operations, but refused to provide any further details.

Minister of Home Affairs, Umaru Naseer flew to the Netherlands in June to finalise arrangements for the dogs, which the ministry has said will first be transported to Sri Lanka.

“The dogs will be trained in Sri Lanka for three months. After that the Maldivian police team will travel to Sri Lanka and train with the dogs for another three months and the dogs will be brought to the Maldives for the first time to form the squad,” explained media officer Thazmeel Abdul Samad.

A total of 15 police officers are to be given training to work with the animals, local media have reported.

The Maldives has previously employed dogs for drugs and security, with the most recent example being the use of dogs for security operations at the 2011 SAARC Summit in Addu City. On that occasion, the dogs were handled by a special Sri Lankan task force.

In October 2002 two sniffer dogs were brought to the Maldives from Sri Lanka, and were used at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport under the supervision of National Security Service – and later the Maldives National Defence Force.

In 2008, the chair of the parliamentary committee on narcotics, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said that no drugs were ever confiscated with the help of the two dogs. The committee’s investigations found that the dogs were in fact unable to recognize drugs, said Solih.

The home minister has pledged to focus his efforts on the battle against drugs while in office, noting that illegal narcotics were overloading the criminal justice system and fuelling gang crime.

He has identified stricter control of the country’s borders, a crack down on large-scale drug dealers, and rehabilitation of drug users as the key ways in which to tackle the problem.

Related to this story

Police to form a ‘K-9 dog squad’ to combat drug trafficking

Q&A: Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer

Maldives to buy 15 sniffer dogs


ACP Fairoosh appointed as executive officer to Home Minister

Assistant Commissioner of Police Abdulla Fairoosh who previously served as the Maldives Police Services development directorate head has been transferred to the post of executive officer to the minister at the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Although Fairoosh works at the Home Ministry offices, his post remains as a position with the Maldives Police Services.


Death penalty can be implemented starting today: Home Minister

The death penalty can be implemented in the Maldives starting today following the publication of procedural regulations in the government gazette, Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer has said.

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, Naseer said the chances of killing an innocent person after completing all the procedures in the regulation – titled “procedural regulation on investigating and penalising the crime of murder” – was “far-fetched” and “almost impossible”.

The regulation was formulated under the Police Act and the Clemency Act with the objective of specifying the procedures for investigating murders and implementing death penalty, and came into force today.

While Maldives has been maintaining an unofficial moratorium on the death penalty since 1953, several people have been sentenced to death over the years. The common practice had been for the president to commute all death sentences to life imprisonment through powers vested in him by Clemency Act.

With the new regulation, the president will no longer have this authority if a person is sentenced to death for murder by the Supreme Court, Naseer noted.

Both President Abdulla Yameen and Vice President Mohamed Jameel have expressed their support for implementing death penalty.


The regulation only allows implementation of death penalty for intentional homicide or premeditated murder and only when the sentence is delivered by the Supreme Court.

A death penalty committee comprised of the Prosecutor General, Chief Justice (or someone appointed by him) and the Commissioner of Prisons have to send a written confirmation to the president that all procedures of the regulation have been followed.

After receiving this confirmation, the president is required to send an execution order to the Commissioner of Prisons within three days.

Within seven days of receiving this order, the Maldives Correctional Service (MCS) has to carry out the execution using lethal injection.

Naseer said the executions will take place at a building in Maafushi Prison, which is currently under construction.

Mediation process

The regulation requires Ministry of Islamic Affairs to mediate between the victim’s family and the convict.

Through this process, which reflects the Shariah principle of qisas (retaliation), family members who are ‘warith’ (heirs in Shariah law) will be given an opportunity to pardon the convict with or without receiving blood money.

The execution will not be carried out even if a single member of the family chooses to pardon the convict.

The family is given a ten-day period following the mediation to come to a decision.

“A first step”

According to the regulation, implementation of death penalty can be delayed if the convict is underage, till he or she is 18-years-old and if the convict is pregnant, until she gives birth and the child is two years old.

If a medical board appointed by the Commissioner of Prisons finds the convict is of very weak health, the sentence will be delayed till he recovers.

Responding to a question about implementing stricter punishments for other crimes as well, Naseer said the decision to implement death penalty for murder is just a first step and noted that “the Quran was also revealed through different stages.”

“Look at this as a first step. God willing, this government will take all necessary action for keeping peace and creating a safe environment for our citizens.” He said.

Naseer also noted that there maybe some countries and organisations which would be concerned over the decision, but said the Maldives will go ahead with it as a sovereign nation and a 100 percent Islamic country.

“There will be some parties who will be concerned about this. Concerned countries, concerned NGOs. Some counties are not too pleased with it [death penalty, but we will know about the issue of executing people in this country, the overcrowding of prisons in this country, how much the criminal environment is more lively in this country. And we are a hundred percent Islamic country and there are certain values that we all believe in,” Naseer said.


Prison to be built on Kaashidhoo

The Ministry of Home Affairs has announced a deal with Maldivian construction company Aima to build a prison in Kaashidhoo, in Kaafu Atoll.

The open prison, designed to house 700 inmates, will cost MVR143 million (US$9.2 million) and should be completed within 18 months, Sun Online has reported.

“This project in Kaashidhoo is based on ‘open jail’ concept. We will use 90 percent of the land area for agriculture. Most prisoners will be engaged in this work, and their work will also benefit their families,” Minister of State for Home Affairs Mohamed Fayaz told the media today.

During a ceremony at the Home Affairs Ministry today, Fayaz is reported to have said that prisoners incarcerated in Kaashidhoo should be able to earn enough whilst in prison to prevent re-offending upon their release.

He added that the construction would add much-needed capacity to the Maldives prison network, noting that currently not all sentences can be carried out due to lack of space. Fayaz also took aim at the previous government, arguing that the last administration had released many convicts too early.


Supreme Court challenges Maldives Bar Association for using the word ‘bar’ in its name

The Supreme Court has allegedly requested the Ministry of Home Affairs to look into the procedures of how the Maldives Bar Association was formed claiming that the use of the word ‘Bar’ in the association’s name was leading to “confusion” among international legal and judicial groups.

The Maldives Bar Association was formed in April to empower, lobby and advocate on behalf of legal practitioners. It was also charged with addressing problems faced by lawyers within the judiciary. The association is currently headed by veteran lawyer and former Attorney General, Husnu Al Suood.

In a letter obtained by Minivan News, allegedly sent by the Supreme Court to the Ministry on May 5, the apex court claimed that in other developed countries, the phrase “Bar” referred to a formal statutory body that represents the entire legal community, unlike the current Maldives Bar Association which is an NGO.

“The newly registered ‘Bar Association’ is an NGO belonging only to its founding members, and considering the confusion that may arise due to a group of individuals using such a name, the judges panel of Supreme Court have on April 30 decided to request the Home Ministry to look into the matter,” read the letter.

Meanwhile, in a second letter, the Ministry of Home Affairs responded to the Supreme Court’s letter stating that prior to the registration of the association, the ministry had consulted with the Attorney General’s office regarding the name.

In response, the ministry stated that the Attorney General did not object to the name, but had requested it reserve the name ‘Maldives Bar Council’ – an institution that is yet to be established under the proposed Legal Practitioners Bill, which the Attorney General’s office is currently in the process of drafting.

Speaking to Minivan News, Maldives Bar Association Secretary General Anas Abdul Sattar disputed the Supreme Court’s view that the term ‘Bar’ was limited to formal statutory bodies.

“Even in India, there is the Bombay Bar Association. The Bombay Bar Council which was formed by a statute came to existence much later, but the bar association still continues to function,” Sattar contended.

Sattar said that Supreme Court was not making the right decision if it were to contend that the term ‘bar’ must only be limited to formal and statutory institutions.

Meanwhile, an attorney working closely with the association told Minivan News on condition of anonymity that the Supreme Court was upset about international organisations recognising the association.

“The Supreme Court was informing those organisations that the Maldives did not have a bar council. They then claimed that they would like to affiliate with the bar association, and that the association satisfied their criterion,” the attorney said.

“If you look into the details, Supreme Court is currently not affiliated with any such organisations and they seemed pretty upset when the international legal community started to recognise the association,” he added.

Minivan News contacted the Supreme Court for a response, but the official demanded formal enquiries in writing and said the court would “respond if appropriate”.

The Supreme Court’s letter challenging the bar association follows its vocal calls for the suspension of Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed, following the release of multiple sex tapes featuring the judge.

Hameed is under investigation by both the police and JSC over the circulation of at least three sex videos apparently depicting him fornicating with unidentified foreign women.

In a previous statement, the association challenged the independence and transparency of any Judicial Service Commission (JSC) investigation into the matter that proceeded without first suspending the judge.

The Maldives Bar Association claimed that it was “against principles adopted in modern democratic societies” to allow Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed to remain on the bench while he faced allegations of adultery and other concerning conduct.


Civil society criticises Home Ministry for decision to dissolve 70 percent of NGOs

Additional reporting by Mohamed Naahii

The Ministry of Home Affairs is facing criticism for publically announcing the dissolution of nearly 1300 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) without notification or supportive mechanisms.

State Minister for Home Affairs Abdulla Mohamed announced Tuesday (March 18) that the ministry will dissolve approximately 1300 of 1843 nationally registered NGOs – 70 percent – because they failed to submit annual reports or elect executive committees, local media reported.

Mohamed said that only around 200 NGOs had submitted the required documents and are functioning in accordance with the law.

He added that the announcement was made to the media and published in the government gazette.

“We had to make this decision because for ages the tradition was to register as many NGOs as possible. There is no tradition to dissolve or abolish NGOs.

“On average, four to five NGOs are registered on a weekly basis. But NGOs do not function as they should. If that is happening then NGOs need to be dissolved,” stated Mohamed.

The Maldives NGO Federation told Minivan News they have received complaints from NGOs that they were not informed prior to Minister Mohamed making this public announcement via the media.

“The Home Ministry should have informed these organisations directly and given them an opportunity to resolve their issues within a certain time period,” stated NGO Federation Vice President Imad Mohamed.

“These island-based associations are not aware of what is happening, some do not have access to the media – internet or television. Additionally, some atoll and island councils did not inform NGOs based on the islands.

“I am not able to comment on legal issues at the moment, but any NGO should be dissolved according to the law and due process should be followed. We will discuss this issue with the Registrar and will voice the NGOs’ concerns,” Imad added.

The need for clearer government regulations to protect NGOs from state interference was emphasised in the Comprehensive Study of the Maldivian Civil Society report, issued by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2011.

The report highlighted the need to “introduce clear procedures specified for the state’s investigation of alleged or suspected cases of illicit or unconstitutional activity and for the de-registration of a civil society organisation (CSO)”.

It also discussed the need to develop clear standards for annual reports and timely (positive and negative) feedback to help improve the quality of reporting.

Key recommendations were to clarify “the powers, responsibilities and the limits of power of the Registrar of Associations [currently the State Minister for Home Affairs], and ensure the post is not politically appointed”.

“[Also] ensure that any allegations against CSOs of unconstitutional or illicit activities by any agency of the state require evidence and are not based on arbitrary state decisions.

“Moreover, the process should follow those of a fair hearing. The [Associations] Act should specify the protections for CSOs from exercise of arbitrary state power,” the report reads.

The Associations Act of 2003 is the current regulatory framework for associations in the Maldives. It states that either two years or repeated faults – including anti-Islamic actions or conducting political activities – are grounds for dissolution by the Registrar of Associations.

However, de-registration can only by conducted “after giving a period to settle debts and properties of the association”.

Civil society politicised

Mohamed also stated that some island council’s complained that actions – political work – by certain NGOs have caused chaos in society.

Imad explained that island-based NGOs are often politically labelled by the island councils who feel their power is threatened, because these organisations often focus on awareness and advocacy activities, as well as fill critical service gaps to meet community needs.

“NGOs play a different role in society, they promote democracy, human rights and good governance. Island councils feel that these NGOs are against them.

“Some island councils are not able to meet the expectations of the public, so NGOs are meeting these needs instead. This creates a conflict,” said Imad.

Imad emphasised that most of the NGOs facing dissolution are objective, island-based and not conducting political activities, however they are in need of capacity building.

Often island-based NGOs are run by all volunteer members who work full time, have extensive family obligations, and may engage in political activities separate from their community development work. However, the distinctions between public, private, and family life are frequently overlooked.

“It is true that some organisations do get involved in political activities and this is a current challenge for the sector to overcome. Additionally, there are inactive NGOs registered for various purposes,” stated Imad.

“However there are also quite active NGOs, but they are not good with internal management.

“The Home Ministry is only regulating and dealing with registration, they are not fulfilling a facilitation role to assist these organizations. The Home Ministry should be playing a facilitation role as well,” he added.

The UNDP study also recognised the challenges NGOs face at the island level.

“CSOs need to be made aware of their role not only as partners of local government but also of their watchdog functions in ensuring that the government is held accountable for the governance of their administrative areas,” reads the report.

Funding shortages

Mohamed said the government budgeted 10 million Maldivian rufiyaa (MVR) for dispersal “depending on the proposals it receives from NGOs to carry on its projects”.

“When we look to support NGOs with financial assistance, we don’t have the funds to give to 1843 NGOs. We face a lot of challenges following that,” Mohamed explained.

“The ministry needs criteria for disbursing funds, then I can discuss this issue,” Imad responded.

The UNDP study found that “ NGOs are not active mainly due to a lack of managerial and project implementation capacity, as well as a lack of legal framework and availability of funds”.

A larger number of NGOs are based in the atoll islands and tend to be “more responsive to a community’s broader and changing set of needs”.

Whereas, Male’ based NGOs are issue specific and have more readily available access to resources.

“The efforts of CSOs to raise their own funds through membership fees and other efforts should be commended,” reads the report.

The Ministry of Home Affairs was not responding to calls at time of press.


Protests disrupting services on Maafaru: Home Ministry

The Ministry of Home Affairs “expressed concern” about the prevention of islanders’ basic needs being met on the island of Maafaru in Noonu Atoll, with ongoing protests having resulted in the island council office, health center, and school closings, local media reported.

A statement issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs Thursday (January 17) stated the provision of these services is obligated under the constitution and subsequent laws, as well as that the obstruction of these [fundamental human] rights is equivalent to denying citizens of their rights.

Therefore, necessary legal actions will be taken to restore the provision of these services without discrimination to all citizens, according to Sun Online.

The ministry added that planned government projects to provide basic services are based on income received by the state.

The government also said they “will always welcome peaceful assembly” since this right is guaranteed in the Maldivian constitution, according to local media.