Ibthihaal’s mother remanded as nation mourns

Afiya Mohamed – the woman suspected of killing her three-year-old son Ibthihaal on Vaavu Rakeedhoo – has been remanded for 15 days.

The 26-year-old was arrested yesterday afternoon after having spent the previous 48 hours under police watch. Meanwhile, a protest march circled the capital Malé to raise awareness of child abuse.

A warrant was issued for Afiya’s arrest soon after the discovery of her son’s body, with signs of severe abuse, in their home on Wednesday (January 28).

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.

Suspicions of state negligence in the case have prompted investigations from Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), the Prosecutor General’s Office, and a Majlis special committee.

The gender ministry has now formed its own inquiry team, though not before angry protesters entered the ministry’s offices on Thursday morning after it had failed to make an official statement on the case.

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.

“The importance of preventing child abuse is a topic which is spoken of a lot, but it has not received adequate action. Every time such an incident occurs everyone talks of strengthening government institutions,” read an HRCM statement.

Protesters in Malé yesterday echoed the calls of civil society groups to immediately enhance child protection measures.

Speaking at a party rally on Thursday evening, Progressive Party of Maldives Parliamentary Group Leader Ahmed Nihan promised to prioritise social protection measures.

During the same rally, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom said everyone should take some measure of responsibility for the boy’s death, calling the incident a national tragedy.

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


Attorney General rules that Nazim’s dismissal as LGA chair was valid

The attorney general has said that recently dismissed defence minister Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim had breached regulations with regards to a no-confidence motion lodged against him by the board of the Local Government Association (LGA).

Mohamed Anil has noted that the agenda of any meetings can only be changed with two days’ notice, and that this was not done when Nazim removed the no-confidence vote from the agenda of a January 15 meeting.

Five of the LGA’s nine board members subsequently refused to end the meeting, writing to Anil for advice before voting on the motion and deciding to remove Nazim from his position. His opponents had accused him of failing to protect the country’s decentralisation system.

Nazim was later reported as saying that the vote was invalid, while the Majlis national security committee last week recommended the dismissal of the interim chair Shujau Hussain.

Following his dismissal in relation to dangerous weapons charges last week, Nazim has been replaced as the president’s representative on the LGA board by home minister Umar Naseer.

Naseer is currently out of the country – receiving his Masters degree from the University of Hull, leaving tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb as acting home minister.

Source: Haveeru


A bill on social workers will be drafted soon: Attorney General.

Attorney General (AG) Mohamed Anil has said that a bill on social workers detailing their rights and their disciplinary code will soon be drafted.

Speaking at a ceremony to conclude workshops held by the gender ministry aimed at social workers, Anil said the bill will ensure that work done by social workers is accepted by the laws and will make sure their services go under a constitutional framework.

The AG also said that the law should not only be targeted at government social workers but should also include social workers from private organisations and NGOs.


Settling disputes – The Weekly Review

June 14th – 20th

The government’s legal and political tussles grabbed headlines this week, with past, present, and future disputes all making the news.

This week’s biggest story came courtesy of spurned Indian infrastructure giant GMR, who revealed a Singapore arbitration court had deemed their terminated airport development deal “valid and binding”.

Being requested to pay US$4 million in procedural costs while the court determines the amount owed to GMR, the government interpreted the outcome as a success, predicting that the damages owed would be far less than the US$1.4 billion sought.

After the issue of a warrant to enforce the appearance of Home Minister Umar Naseer at his disobedience to order trial, the minister appeared at the Criminal Court of his own volition upon his return from his official trip to Europe.

Naseer promptly refused to cooperate with the trial until his procedural objection – already rejected by the judge – had been appealed.

The government’s disputes in the political arena also continued this week, with ejected coalition partner, the Jumhooree Party (JP), striking a conciliatory tone after the recent break-up.

The JP maintained that the coalition agreement had not been breached, while the party continued to haemorrhage members to its former ally the Progressive Party of Maldives – the economic development minister and two more MPs being the latest to switch allegiance.

The Progressive Coalition’s fast-growing majority in the Majlis resulted in what the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) interpreted as excessive representation in the Majlis’ standing committees, leading to the cancellation of sittings and threat of street action.

While taking pains to distance his party from such maneouvres, MDP leader Mohamed Nasheed suggested President Abdulla Yameen’s fate would likely be the same as his – predicting his eventual removal in a future coup.

Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam this week submitted a case to the Human Rights Commision, suggesting his suspension and subsequent dismissal were linked to the events of Nasheed’s chaotic departure from office in February 2012.

The second UNDP Human Development Index report raised questions as to how equitably economic growth was being distributed, with research revealing glaring disparities opening up between progress in the capital and the atolls.

Phase two of expansion of Malé’s suburbs continued regardless, with a US$50 million dredging contract awarded to a Belgian company for phase two of the Hulhumalé expansion project.

Despite expressing continued reservations about the Maldives’ public account imbalances, the World Bank this week anticipated continued development of the economy with 4.5 percent GDP growth predicted.

Meanwhile, Hope for Women this week predicted unwelcome growth in the workload of female civil servants during Ramadan after the alteration of working hours for the month of fasting.

The World Cup in Brazil – for which the government has already allowed extended trading hours – was suggested as a possible reason for the adjusted working times, though the President’s Office maintained that the change was intended to facilitate late night prayers.

This week also saw the Islamic Ministry hold a closed conference with scholars to discuss reports of Maldivian jihadis journeying to Syria, while Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon called on the Umma to assess the persistent association with terrorism and intolerance.


Dismissed Brigadier General Nilam files case with Human Rights Commission

Former Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam has filed a case with the Human Rights Commission (HRCM) relating to his suspension and eventual dismissal from service.

A ten-month suspension followed statements made by Nilam to the Majlis government oversight committee in January last year during which he claimed the February 2012 change of government had “all the characteristics of a coup”.

Nilam told Minivan News today that his case – submitted after unsuccessful attempt to take the issue through the courts – was important for both the MNDF and for democracy.

“I strongly believe that if I stay quiet, the upholding of democracy will not be there and subordinate soldiers will continue to get unfair punishments” the 26-year veteran explained.

He maintains that his career was ended in relation to his comments to the oversight committee – constitutionally protected under parliamentary privilege – which were later publicised by committee MPs.

Saying at the time of of Nilam’s dismissal in November that he had been relieved of duty for “violating MNDF duties and disciplinary norms, repeating acts that should not be seen from an MNDF officer, revealing secret information against military regulations, diminishing the honor of the MNDF, and sowing discord in the military”, the MNDF had no further comment to make on the matter today.

Nilam – formerly head of military intelligence – explained that around a dozen other soldiers were dismissed immediately after the February transfer of power, suggesting all of these cases breached the rights enshrined in the 2008 constitution.

“I love democracy – I want this country to be a democratic Islamic country and we are evading from it during the last two years,” he said.

Depending on the outcome of the commission’s report, Nilam pledged to take his case to the the relevant international bodies.

After effects

The fallout from the chaotic events of February 2012 continue more that two years on, with former President Mohamed Nasheed claiming earlier this week that the events had set a precedent that would have lasting effects.

“The legitimate means of changing regimes has been demonstrated in 2012. The Supreme Court has demonstrated how to interpret the constitution. With that legitimacy, both ourselves and those in power, we should not rule out the possibility that another group may overthrow the government,” he told Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters in Malé.

MDP MP Eva Abdulla has also called this week for Attorney General Mohamed Anil to appear before the Majlis in order to explain how his government is addressing the recommendations of the Commonwealth-backed national inquiry.

While dismissing the claims of mutiny among security forces and duress in Nasheed’s resignation, the CoNI report did recommend reform of the judiciary and security services, as well as prosecution of those security personnel found guilty of acts of brutality.

The CoNI was subsequently criticised by legal experts as being “selective”, “flawed”, and having exceeded its mandate, prompting a further parliamentary probe into the presidential transition.

Following its own investigations into the events of leading to Nasheed’s resignation, and the brutal police crackdown on his supporters the following day, the HRCM last December accused institutions of failing to implement the majority of its recommendations.

HRCM Vice President Ahmed Tholal told Minivan News today that the commission was due to release a further report into the extent to which stakeholders have complied with its advice in the coming weeks.

The commission was unable to discuss ongoing cases such as General Nilam’s, he explained.


Government submitting bills to Majlis at “remarkable speed”, says PPM group leader

The government has submitted 12 bills to the People’s Majlis today (June 8), local media has reported.

“The government is submitting bills to the parliament at a remarkable speed. We’ll do our best to table these bills in the parliament,” Progressive Party of Maldives Parliamentary Group Leader Ahmed Nihan told Haveeru today.

Having already submitted special economic zones legislation to the Majlis last week, the government was reported to have today introduced bills addressing the issue of referendums as well as amendments to current laws on GST, child protection, MPs’ income, and immigration.

The scope of the government’s legislative agenda was revealed last March when Attorney General Mohamed Anil unveiled a 207-bill plan comprising 98 new bills and 109 amendments to existing laws.

Of the 207 bills, Anil said the government hoped to submit 65 pieces of legislation to the legislature this year once the 18th parliament was sworn in after the elections on March 22.

The government’s ability to secure new legislation was reduced late last month, however, after the split with it electoral ally the Jumhooree Party (JP).

The loss of the JP’s 15 MPs brings the ruling Progressive Coalition’s majority in the house to just one seat, after last week’s signing of independent MP  Abdulla Khaleel. This excludes the support of unofficial partner the Adhaalath Party’s sole MP.


Judicial watchdog considers probe into Drug Court Judge’s blog

The Judicial Services Commission (JSC) is considering a probe into a blog post by Drug Court Judge Mahaz Ali.

The judge’s May 8 blog post disagreed with the Attorney General’s (AG) advise on the ongoing leadership vacuum at the independent Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office.

JSC member Sheikh Shuaib Abdul Rahman said the commission had started discussions on whether to proceed with an investigation, but said a decision has not been made yet.

“I do not believe the commission should take up this matter. Article 41 of the Judges Act allows judges to engage in academic writing,” Shuaib said.

Clause 41 (a) of the Judges Act states judges may write essays and academic documents as long as they do not intend to politically benefit any party.

According to Shuaib, AG Mohamed Anil, who also sits on the JSC, had agreed with him on the matter.

In his legal opinion to President Abdulla Yameen, Anil last week said the senior most official at the PG office must takeover the PG’s constitutional obligations in the aftermath of acting PG Hussein Shameem’s resignation.

State prosecutors had stopped work at the time, bringing the criminal justice system to a halt.

Anil said prosecutors must resume work even in the absence of guidance by the PG, claiming the country was in a “state of necessity” where extra legal actions by the government could be deemed lawful.

However, Mahaz wrote that the state of necessity argument was valid only if there was no legal solution to the crisis, suggesting that there was no reason President Yameen could not propose a name for approval by the current People’s Majlis.

Yameen had said he would only submit a new nominee to the newly elected parliament, which is set to convene on May 28.

The current Majlis is in recess. It had rejected Yameen’s previous choice – his nephew Maumoon Hameed – for the position in March.

Mahaz said any criminal trials in the PG leadership’s absence is unconstitutional.

“A state of necessity is faced only when all legal avenues have been exhausted. In the current situation, the solution is to appoint a new prosecutor general. The current People’s Majlis is not in a situation where it cannot carry out its duties,” wrote the judge.

“The authority that must nominate a candidate [the President] is able to do so. Unless these two parties are in a state in which they cannot carry out their constitutional duties, a state of necessity will not be faced in the prosecutor general’s case.”

However, prosecutors were forced to end their strike on Tuesday following a Supreme Court ruling on the matter on Monday. The ruling upheld Anil’s state of necessity argument.


Amount proposed by GMR for out-of-court settlement too big, says president

President Abdulla Yameen has said that the compensation proposed by GMR for an out-of-court settlement is too big and the government does not believe that it has to be paid.

“GMR is seeking a very big compensation. We, the government, do not believe that we can pay such an amount, or that it is necessary to pay it. So now we are facing [the issue of] unmatching numbers,” Yameen was quoted as saying in local media.

Yameen suggested that the large compensation being sought is the reason the parties have failed to reach an out-of-court settlement.

Both sides are now awaiting the conclusion of the arbitration, revealed Yameen, and further discussions will continue afterwards if it is necessary. He did not reveal the amount proposed for an early settlement.

Proceedings of the arbitration case, in which GMR is seeking US$1.4 billion as compensation for the abrupt termination of the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) contract, has already begun in Singapore.

Last week the government appointed sitting Supreme Court Judge Abdulla Saeed as a legal expert in the arbitration case, with the Saeed promptly travelling to Singapore.

According to the Judges Act, however, any judge leaving the country to take part in a judiciary or law-related event should first obtain special permission from the independent Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

Judicial Service Commission (JSC) member Sheikh Shuaib Abdurahman – one of the two members legally required to give consent for such a trip – has said said he was unaware of Judge Abdulla Saeed’s departure, though the Attorney General’s office has told local media that all necessary permissions were acquired.

The Maldives’ legal team includes Attorney General (AG) Mohamed Anil,  Deputy AG Ahmed Usham, and a team of experts from Singapore and the UK.

Haveeru has reported that GMR hired former Sri Lankan Attorney General Mohamed Shibly Aziz, former Maldivian Deputy Solicitor General Ibrahim Riffath, and Maldivian lawyer Fayaz Ismail to assist them in matters related to the Maldivian legal system.

The AG’s Office is now looking into Riffath’s involvement in the case, stating that he could have accessed privileged information when working at the office during the cancellation of the GMR agreement and several other GMR related cases before that.

The office has noted that information obtained through holding such a position cannot be utilised in such circumstances.

The AG’s Office earlier stated that the Maldives would be represented by Singapore National University Professor M. Sonaraja, while former Chief Justice of the UK Lord Nicholas Addison Phillips were to represent GMR.

The arbitrator – mutually agreed upon by both GMR and the Government of Maldives – is retired senior UK Judge Lord Leonard Hubert Hoffman.

Legal experts are expected to present their opinions to the arbitration panel today, local media has reported, while the process is expected to continue until Wednesday.

Airport development plans

The government owned Maldives Airports Company Limited which took over the airport’s management from GMR after the cancellation of the agreement, is now planning further development.

A US$5 million work project to develop ground handling at INIA was announced in January, with more plans to be announced in the near future based on a revised version of the previously compiled Scott Wilson airport development master plan.

Since assuming office President Yameen has made repeated assurances that the country is safe for foreign investors, calling for new developers from the Arab-Muslim countries in particular.

“The thrust of the government is to welcome foreign investment, ‎and to assure all investors that your investment – your money – is safe ‎with us, and your stay here in Maldives is going to be conducive ‎for you”, Yameen said earlier this month at a housing project inauguration in Hulhumalé.

The president yesterday shared the government’s INIA development plans with a delegation of Singapore’s Changi Airport Group and Changi Airport International in a meeting at the President’s Office, although a subsequent press release did not specify the exact reasons for the visit.

President Yameen will also travel to Singapore later this month to inaugurate the Maldives Investment Forum, a government initiative to showcase ‘high level’ investment opportunities in the country.

During the forum, the government’s development plans and projects will be revealed to international corporate and individual investors. One of the key five projects being scheduled for presentation is the the development of INIA.

Earlier this month Maldives Tourism Development Corporation Plc – 45 percent of whose shares are held by the government –  sold Herethera Island Resort in Addu City for US$33 million to Singapore’s Canaries Private Ltd.