PPM pledges harsher punishments for assaulting police, ‘obstructing police duty’

Punishments for obstructing police duty and assaulting police officers will be made harsher under a Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) administration, according to PPM vice presidential candidate and former Home Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, reports local media.

Jameel noted that punishments for those who call for attacking police will be made harsher by amending the Penal Code as part of PPM’s policy for maintaining peace and security.

He pledged that a PPM government would try and ‘wrap up’ all criminal investigations and send them for prosecution within a month, as well as make “major changes” to investigative mechanisms.

“At the end of the party’s first five-year period, mechanisms will be set up to facilitate for prosecution to proceed within 24 hours,” said Jameel.

Surveillance mechanisms will be installed “across the whole Maldives” as well as “state-of-the-art forensic facilities”, he added.


Foundations in place for new 10-storey police building

The foundations for a new ten-storey police building have been laid down as part of the celebrations marking the 80th anniversary of the Maldives Police Service.

Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed laid part of the foundation for the new building, which will be used by police for administrative purposes, local media reported.

Speaking at the ceremony, Jameel said that police will be able to begin operating within the building in 18 month’s time.


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.


Home Minister condemns “one-sided” Amnesty report

Home Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed has criticised Amnesty International for failing to seek comment from the government when compiling its recent report, “The Other side of Paradise: A Human Rights Crisis in the Maldives”, local media has reported.

“They had not sought any comments from the Maldives government. I’m extremely disappointed that a group advocating for fairness and equal treatment had released a report based on just one side of the story,” Jameel told Haveeru.

“An international group of the caliber of Amnesty should have heard the other side as well. But they had failed to obtain our comments,” Jameel is quoted as saying.

Minivan News was awaiting a response from Amnesty at the time of press.

When talking with Haveeru, Jameel did not appear to dispute the content of the statements that were included in the report.

Jameel was also not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.

The Amnesty report recounts sustained and pre-meditated beatings of protesters with a variety of weapons.

Some of those interviewed reported people being attacked in their hospital beds, whilst others recalled torture and further degradation whilst in detention.

Amnesty also detailed a number of incidents of police brutality on February 8, including attacks on Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs Eva Abdulla and Mariya Didi.

“The overall objective of these violent attacks has been to silence peaceful government critics and stifle public debate about the current political situation,” said the report, compiled by Amnesty researcher Abbas Faiz.

“Based on Amnesty International’s interviews with survivors of these violent attacks, it appears that many were targeted by security forces because they were MDP ministers, parliamentarians or supporters,” it read.

Whilst Amnesty stated that several of its human rights recommendations were reflected in the Commission of National Inquiry’s (CNI) report, which was released on August 30, Jameel argued that the CNI had highlighted misdemeanors of protesters which did not make it into the Amnesty report.

“CNI (Commission of National Inquiry) report had clearly highlighted the actions of demonstrators during protests in the Maldives. The foreign observers had labelled the actions of demonstrators as cowboy tactics,” Jameel told Haveeru.

In their closing observations, Professor John Packer and Sir Bruce Robertson had appeared critical of the anti-government protesters.

“Some would want to call an example of the rights of freedom of expression and assembly. In reality it is rather more bully boy tactics involving actual and threatened intimidation by a violent mob,” reported Packer and Robertson.

Jameel continued: “The demonstrators undermine the peace and stability, carry out attacks while being inebriated, carry out attacks with sharp objects and damage private property. Even internationally such actions are regarded as violence. However, the Amnesty report has ignored all such things. It is extremely one sided and unjust,” said Jameel.

The CNI report’s major findings were that February’s transfer of power was constitutional and that, rather than amounting to a coup, the events preceding former President Mohamed Nasheed’s resignation were of his own making.

The report did conclude that acts of police brutality had been committed in February and urged further investigation by relevant authorities.

Following the release of the report, Jameel explained that the government would leave these investigations to the Police Integrity Commission (PIC).

Widespread doubts persist, however, as to the strength of independent institutions in the country with the Chair of the PIC publicly expressing her doubts over the ability of the PIC to handle the pressure of these investigations.

This issue was reflected in Amnesty’s findings: “Government officials have frequently shrugged off their own responsibility to address human rights violations, saying it is the purview of the Human Rights Commission (HRCM) and the PIC.”

“However, both bodies have yet to conclude their investigations into all of the most serious human rights violations does not absolve the government of its responsibility to exercise due diligence in guaranteeing the rule of law and protecting human rights,” it continued.

Amnesty’s recommendations also included de-politicisation of the police, reform of the judiciary and enhanced training of security forces to meet with international standards of conduct.

Nasheed’s MDP have been fiercely critical of the CNI’s methods following the resignation of their commission member, Ahmed ‘Gahaa’ Saeed, on the eve of the report’s publication.

Jameel’s comments echo those of Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz who, in April, told Minivan News of his own scepticism of Amnesty’s methods

“I don’t see that there has been any investigations done, none of our officers was questioned, interviewed – neither by them nor by the Police Integrity Commission (PIC), nor by the Human Rights Commission (HRCM). I don’t think that’s fair,” said Riyaz.