Three arrested from opposition protest

Three men were arrested from an opposition protest on Wednesday night when they reportedly refused police orders to step out of the street and on to the pavement.

Opposition MP Rozaina Adam told Minivan News that police officers pushed some hundred protesters on to the pavements at the main junction of Chaandhanee and Fareedhee Magu. Three protesters were arrested for disobedience to order.

“They are cracking down on our right to assembly and free speech.  This is how rights are taken away in dictatorships, step by step,” she said.

The allied opposition parties, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), the Adhaalath Party and the Jumhoree Party (JP), are protesting over the imprisonment of ex-president Mohamed Nasheed and the ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim, and the takeover of JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim’s businesses.

A police spokesperson said the protesters had been told to stay on the pavements to avoid blocking traffic. Protesters were very cooperative, he said.

The official declined to comment on the opposition’s claims of narrowing rights. “But we never do anything against the law.”

The three men who were arrested remain in police custody.

Since a 20,000-strong march on May 1, the police have banned the use of four-wheeled vehicles in protests. In April, police banned the use of sound systems beyond 11pm and protesting beyond 12am.

MP Rozaina said the protest had ended at 11pm when the police ordered sound systems to be shut off.

MDP Vice President Mohamed Shifaz said the police had prevented supporters from holding a demonstration on Monday as well.

The opposition had protested peacefully every day from February 10 to May 1.

Violent clashes broke out on May Day when protesters attempted to enter the city’s restricted Republic Square. Some 193 people and the three leaders of the allied opposition parties were arrested. Protests have slowed since then to just three or two days a week.

The opposition has opened a campaign hall for its nightly activities and have announced a third mass protest on June 12.

In a speech this morning, President Abdulla Yameen welcomed “non-stop protests” but said the government will not tolerate attacks on police officers.

“To politicians, I say, we will not allow you to violate police officers, torch property and disrupt the peace. Political activities should be carried out, but it should stay within the limits,” he said.

Two police officers were beaten on May Day. Some 14 people were arrested. At least three of the suspects have told lawyers police severely beat them and threatened to kill them.

The president also condemned calls for a tourism boycott.

“People who call for boycotting tourism in political turmoil are enemies of the country,” he said.

Photo: social media


MPs need more time for Ibthihaal investigation

The Majlis government accountability committee requires more time to determine possible state negligence regarding the death of three-year-old Mohamed Ibthihaal last week.

Committee member Rozaina Adam said that the committee first received documents and reports from the state institutions regarding the case when arriving at today’s sitting.

“The reports were not emailed to committee members before the sitting,” said Rozaina. “We had to read them while at the committee so we did not have adequate time to map out a course of action according to the contents of the documents”.

The Maldivian Democratic Party MP noted that the report sent by the police did not include any information relating to Ibthihaal before his death, only detailing the actions by the service afterwards.

“We have no choice but to ask representatives from police to come and clarify the information to the committee,” she said.

Local authorities and the police and gender ministry were both aware of the abuse prior to the child’s death, the island council has revealed, though the government has assured that Ibthihaal was in a safe environment when officials last visited the island.

However, Rozaina noted today that the Ministry of Law and Gender has no documents to substantiate these claims.

“The gender ministry says they handed the child over to a relative, but they have no records of doing so and the relative denies having been handed over guardianship. There are documents and forms that need to be filled if gender assigns guardianship of a child to another person,” said the Addu-Meedhoo MP.

Closed committee

Rozaina also accused pro-government MPs of hampering the investigation, stating they “do not want to reveal any information that might find the government guilty of negligence”.

She also accused committee chair Riyaz Rasheed of conducting today’s sitting in violation of the Majlis’ rules of procedure by refusing to allow members of the press to witness proceedings.

Responding to these claims, Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Riyaz said that neither a motion to hold a closed door session nor an open one was proposed by any member, with the meeting adjourned before any such deliberations were made.

“At first I did not let media personnel inside the meeting room as some of the institutions requested their reports and documents be kept confidential, and before any committee member proposed to hold a closed door meeting or an open one, I ended the committee as most members requested further time to analyse the documents,” Riyaz stated.

The Vilifushi MP also said that the committee members would receive until next week to analyse the documents, after which he would schedule a sitting to proceed with the issue further.

Documents regarding Ibthihaal were requested from Rakeedhoo Island Council, the Maldives Police Services, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, the Ministry of Law and Gender, and the Family Protection Unit.

Multiple investigations into potential state negligence have begun after the authorities’ prior knowledge of the abuse became apparent.

Meanwhile, the 26-year-old mother of the child, Afiya Mohamed, was arrested in the afternoon hours of January 30, with media reporting that Rakeedhoo Magistrates Court had remanded her for 15 days.

Ibthihaal’s two siblings are currently in the care of family members, local authorities have said.

Related to this story

Majlis begins investigation into Ibthihaal’s death

ARC condemns “systematic laws” after death of Rakeedhoo toddler

Body of abused child found in Vaavu Rakeedhoo

State negligence investigated in death of Rakeedhoo child


Majlis begins investigation into Ibthihaal’s death

The government accountability committee investigation into the death of Mohamed Ibthihaal in Vaavu Rakeedhoo, has decided to collect relevant information from government ministries and other state institutions.

The motion to investigate into the death of the three-year-old, who was found dead on January 28 with signs of severe abuse, was proposed by opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Rozaina Adam and MP Ahmed Falah along with Jumhooree Party MP Moosa Nizar.

Multiple investigations into potential state negligence have begun after it emerged that authorities had prior knowledge of the abuse.

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Riyaz Rasheed, who chairs the government accountability committee, told Minivan News that some opposition MPs had initially proposed summoning relevant authorities to the committee.

“Later, after discussions all members of the committee agreed to collect relevant documents regarding the case to the committee and then to decide on proceeding further”, said the Vilufushi MP.

He also said that a date has not been set for the next committee sitting.

MDP MP Ibrahim Shareef stated that the committee decided to collect information and documents from Rakeedhoo Island Council, the Maldives Police Services, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), the Ministry of Law and Gender, and the Family Protection Unit.

“We will be sending out the letters requesting information tomorrow. After we receive them, the committee will analyse the first hand information,” Shareef stated.

State negligence?

Meanwhile, the 26-year-old mother of the child, Afiya Mohamed was arrested Friday (20 January) afternoon after having spent the previous 48 hours under police watch.  Media reported that Rakeedhoo Magistrates Court ordered 15 days of detention.

On Friday, a protest march circled the capital Malé to raise awareness of child abuse. Authorities are reported to have received record numbers of child abuse reports in the days since Ibthihaal’s death.

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.

Other than the government accountability committee’s inquiry, suspicions of state negligence in the case have prompted investigations from HRCM and the Prosecutor General’s Office.

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.

In another development, Haveeru has reported that police are investigating reports that Ibthihaal’s mother was raped three years ago.

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


MDP may challenge constitutionality of amendment to Audit Act

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) parliamentary group has decided to make a recommendation to the party’s national executive committee (NEC) to challenge the constitutionality of amendments brought to the Audit Act last week.

“The NEC will make a decision tomorrow,” MP Rozaina Adam said at a press conference this morning.

Under Article 143 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court and High Court has the jurisdiction “to enquire into and rule on the constitutional validity of any statute or part thereof enacted by the People’s Majlis.”

Rozaina argued that the amendment stipulating that the president shall reappoint an auditor general within 30 days was unconstitutional.

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Ahmed Thoriq had proposed adding a clause to the audit law stating that the president shall nominate for parliamentary approval an individual or individuals to the post of auditor general within 30 days of ratifying the amendments.

The amendment was passed with 36 votes in favour and 22 against at Wednesday’s (October 29) sitting of parliament.

At today’s press conference, MP Imthiyaz Fahmy meanwhile stressed the importance of the public protesting the unconstitutional move.

Imthiyaz said he had learned that parliament’s Counselor General Fathmath Filza had also advised Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed that the amendment was unconstitutional.

President Abdulla Yameen ratified the amendments less than 24 hours after it was passed, he noted.

Imthiyaz said the haste with which the amendment was passed and ratified shows the PPM government’s eagerness to replace the auditor general following allegations of corruption made against the party’s deputy leader – Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb – in a special audit report of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Company (MMPRC).

Meanwhile, Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim told newspaper Haveeru last night that he would also contest the constitutionality of the amendment at the Supreme Court.

The amendment contravenes the process specified in the Constitution for the appointment and removal of the auditor general, Niyaz contended.

Article 218 of the Constitution states that the auditor general could be removed from office “(a) on the ground of misconduct, incapacity or incompetence; and (b) a finding to that effect by a committee of the People’s Majlis, pursuant to article (a) and upon the approval of such finding by the People’s Majlis by a majority of those present and voting, calling for the Auditor General’s removal from office”.

Niyaz told the local daily that he does not intend to remain in the post even if the Supreme Court strikes down the amendment.

Following the release of the MMPRC special audit report, Niyaz revealed that death threats were sent to both himself and his family. Niyaz is currently on leave.

During last week’s parliamentary debate, PPM MP Thoriq said he proposed the amendment with reference to Article 211(b) of the Constitution, which states, “A statute shall specify the responsibilities, powers, mandate, qualifications, and ethical standards of the Auditor General.”

Thoriq noted that the Audit Act was passed in 2007 before the ratification of the Constitution the following year and did not specify the responsibilities, mandate, qualification and ethical standards of the auditor general.

PPM MP Ibrahim Waheed has meanwhile told local media that the post of auditor general became vacant with the president’s ratification of the amendments.

Waheed contended that as Niyaz was appointed under the 2007 audit law, a new auditor general must be appointed in accordance with the Constitution following the amendments to the Audit Act.

Article 210 of the Constitutions states, “The President shall appoint as Auditor General a person approved by a majority of the total membership of the People’s Majlis from the names submitted to the People’s Majlis as provided for in law.”

Waheed argued that Niyaz was appointed in the absence of a law passed after the adoption of the Constitution in August 2008.

“So the legal obligations and responsibilities of the present Auditor General will stop. And if he is willing to go ahead, he also has to apply to the post just like others. An Auditor General will be appointed under this constitution after the parliament approves the name sent by the president,” he was quoted as saying by Sun Online.

The 17th People’s Majlis had unanimously approved former President Mohamed Nasheed’s nomination of Niyaz Ibrahim to the post of auditor general in May 2011.


Oversight committee rejects President Yameen’s nominees for Prosecutor General

Parliament’s independent institutions oversight committee last night decided against recommending for approval President Abdulla Yameen’s nominees for the vacant post of Prosecutor General (PG).

According to opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Rozaina Adam, the committee awarded President Yameen’s nephew Maumoon Hameed 33 percent and Criminal Court Judge Muhthaz Muhsin 67 percent following a vetting process.

A minimum score of 75 percent or marks is required for the committee to recommend a nominee for approval. The pair were interviewed by the committee last Thursday night (July 10).

Marks were awarded following evaluation of their academic qualifications, experience, competency, management skills, leadership qualities, achievements, and integrity.

The nominees will however be put to a vote on the People’s Majlis floor.

The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has a clear majority of the 85-member house with 43 MPs in addition to five MPs of coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance (MDA).

The independent institutions oversight committee is comprised of five PPM MPs, one MDA MP, three MDP MPs and two Jumhooree Party (JP) MPs.

The final evaluation process took place at a closed session last night where opposition MPs reportedly awarded zero marks to both nominees.

In April, Maumoon Hameed failed to garner the required 39 votes in the previous parliament – falling just three votes short – four months after he was put forward by President Yameen.

Article 221 of the constitution states, “The President shall appoint as Prosecutor General a person approved by a majority of the total membership of the People’s Majlis from the names submitted to the People’s Majlis as provided for in law.”

The independent oversight committee in the 17th People’s Majlis had also rejected Hameed’s nomination after the lawyer failed to meet the assessment criteria.

“Approval is based on a preset grading scheme, and not on members’ opinions,” MP Rozaina told Minivan News at the time.

The PG’s post has been vacant since November following the resignation of Ahmed Muizz ahead of a scheduled no-confidence motion in parliament.

Moreover, Acting PG Hussein Shameem’s resignation in early May brought the criminal justice system to a halt after state prosecutors went on strike, citing concerns of a lack of accountability in the absence of a PG.

However, the Supreme Court ordered prosecutors to resume work “without any further excuse” and ordered the seniormost official at the PG office to assume the PG’s responsibilities.

President Yameen meanwhile refused to submit a new nominee to the 17th Majlis during the crisis and opened up a third call for applicants, announcing his intention to nominate Hameed – son of former Atolls Minister Abdulla Hameed – for a second time to the newly elected 18th People’s Majlis.

Meanwhile, at its meeting last night, the independent institutions committee also awarded 68 percent to President Yameen’s nominee for the Police Integrity Commission, Adam ‘Kurolhi’ Zahir.

The committee however approved the nominations of former MP Abdul Azeez Jamal Abubakur for the newly created post of Information Commissioner with 88 percent and Aishath Zahira for deputy governor of the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) with 90 percent.


Majlis sitting called off amid opposition protest over committee composition

Today’s sitting of parliament has been called off by Speaker Abdulla Maseeh after opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs raised consecutive points of order objecting to the composition of the Majlis’ 13 standing committees.

Adjourning the sitting amid disorder in the chamber, Speaker Maseeh announced that he would “discuss the issue of the standing committees with political party leaders.”

Government-aligned MPs accused the opposition of obstructing proceedings to thwart its legislative agenda.

The standing committees were constituted yesterday by a select committee with the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and coalition partner (MDA) securing a majority on government oversight committees.

The five-member select committee – comprised of a representative from the five political parties in parliament – approved the composition of committees after MDP MP Ibrahim Shareef walked out of yesterday’s committee meeting in protest, contending that the seat allocation was unfair.

The committee’s decision will be put to a vote on the Majlis floor on Monday (June 23).

At the beginning of today’s sitting, Speaker Maseeh gave the floor to MP Rozaina Adam to present legislation on medical negligence ahead of a preliminary debate.

The MDP MP for Addu Meedhoo however declared that she was withdrawing the proposed legislation as there were “no committees in the Majlis to review this bill.”

“And we don’t know when [the standing committees] are going to be formed. So our People’s Majlis is in a state today where we cannot even envisage when the committee is going to be formed and when it would be able to consult relevant authorities and work on the bill,” she said.

Rozaina said she wished to make changes to the bill after consulting the Medical Association of Maldives, after which it be resubmitted as soon as standing committees are constituted.

Speaker Maseeh, however, insisted repeatedly that parliamentary rules allow for the formation of ad hoc or select committees to review legislation.

The report forwarded by the select committee formed to constitute standing committees will be tabled in the agenda for Monday’s sitting, he added.

Standing committees

MP Ibrahim Shareef – who represented the opposition party in the select committee that approved the standing committee composition – contended that the legislative process could not begin in the absence of standing committees.

While the MDP had been willing to compromise on the committee composition, Shareef said the PPM did not want the opposition party to have a voice in parliament or be able to exercise oversight.

The ruling party had begun efforts to “create an autocratic one-party state like we had 30 years ago,” he said.

In the wake of the select committee decision yesterday, Shareef told reporters that the opposition party would be forced to resort to direct action if its MPs were not afforded the opportunity to hold the government accountable through parliament.

Jumhooree Party (JP) MP Ilham Ahmed accused the speaker of stalling as the government had not finished “hunting” for new MPs.

Two JP MPs signed for the PPM yesterday, joining a number of political appointees who have switched to the ruling party in the wake of the termination of the agreement between the former coalition partners.

MPs who leave their party should be “ashamed” of themselves, the JP deputy leader said.

“We will not allow a brutal and autocratic rule. You should believe, we saw two or three MDP working alone courageously,” he said, referring to the MDP MPs’ efforts in the Special Majlis or constitutional assembly convened to revise the constitution.

“We will see that here again. So I don’t believe the Majlis can carry on before committees are formed,” he said.


Pro-government MPs meanwhile accused opposition MPs of attempting to stall parliamentary proceedings and obstruct the government.

PPM MP Saud Hussain accused opposition MPs of scheming to disrupt parliament with points of order and prevent debate on government-sponsored legislation.

PPM MP Riyaz Rasheed – chair of the select committee that determined composition of standing committees – urged the Majlisopposition party to resolve disputes peacefully through dialogue.

“There’s nothing you can make us do by yelling. We should do things peacefully,” he said.

PPM MP Ali Arif argued that the opposition party had no grounds to complain as the party had been granted 39 seats on the standing committees, which reflected the party’s numbers in parliament.

Moreover, he added, the absence of standing committees was not a problem at the moment as preliminary debate had not been completed for any piece of legislation so far.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed meanwhile stated on social media that standing committees should be formed in accordance with “the spirit of the constitution” to allow parliament to hold the executive answerable.

“MDP is the party that represents the whole Maldives. Thanks to MDP MPs,” the opposition leader tweeted.


Police Commissioner denies obstructing election

Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz has denied obstructing the Elections Commission (EC) from conducting the presidential election scheduled for October 19, insisting that police only refused to provide security as the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court judgment were not followed by the EC.

Appearing before parliament’s Security Services ‘241’ Committee yesterday (October 20), Riyaz dismissed as “excuses” the allegations by EC Chair Fuwad Thowfeek that police blocked the election, contending that the commission “was not properly prepared.”

“That is the truth. The list was not prepared,” he said, referring to the refusal of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen and Jumhooree Party (JP) Gasim Ibrahim to sign the voter registry as required by the Supreme Court guidelines.

An hour before polls were due to open on Saturday, the EC issued a statement declaring that police had moved to prevent the election from taking place.

“As we continued with [preparation for] voting, the Maldives Police Services have said no document relating to the election can leave the commission’s offices, stopping the election,” the statement read.

Riyaz however insisted, in the face of repeated queries from MPs, that police did not block the election, conceding that a court order would be needed for police to take such an action.

“Police sent a letter to the Elections Commission on 19 October. In it I said that the Supreme Court ordered all state institutions to ensure that matters are proceeding according to the Supreme Court guidelines,” he said.

He added that “no further communication” – apart from the letter stating that police could not offer security or cooperation to the EC – was exchanged before the commission announced the cancellation of polls.

However, an internal inquiry has been launched by the police professional standards command following the allegations by EC Chair Thowfeek, Riyaz told MPs.

Non-cooperation rather than obstruction: Riyaz

Riyaz argued that the election could not take place because the EC was not “well prepared”, as he believed the time period offered for candidates to approve the voter registry was not sufficient.

Riyaz stressed that the police decided to not provide cooperation to the EC rather than obstructing the commission from conducting the polls. The decision was made based on advice from the National Security Council, he said, which consists of the president, vice president, attorney general, chief of defence forces and the defence minister.

Police considered the consequences of proceeding with the election while two candidates were refusing to participate, Riyaz said, suggesting that violence and unrest would have occurred.

He also suggested that candidates would have found it “harder to refuse” to sign-off had the EC sent the voter list in parts as soon as the re-registration forms were processed.

The commissioner assured “full cooperation” from police to the EC to conduct the presidential election, adding that he believed a president-elect must be sworn in on November 11.

In an appearance on state broadcaster Television Maldives on Saturday night, EC Chair Fuwad Thowfeek was adamant that it was “the police who have stopped the election.”

“It is the people who are supposed to prevent others from obstructing the election, who have obstructed the election today. The police were also ordered to provide protection, security of ballot boxes and papers. The police stopped the election using the excuse that all three candidates did not sign the voter registry. But the Supreme Court verdict does not give the police the authority to oversee that,” he said.

“The police refused to provide security. The verdict clearly says the police must accompany the ballot boxes and papers to the polling stations. But last night the police said they will not facilitate the process. If we dispatch the boxes without police cooperation, then the Supreme Court has the space to annul the election [again],” he continued.

“In addition to that, in the morning, when our officials left the office with documents, papers, ballot boxes, they stopped them. [They said elections officials] did not have the permission to leave the Elections Commission. They stopped the election. The police officers told our elections officials they had been ordered to stop anyone from leaving the Elections Commission building with any documents relating to the election.”

“I know if [EC officials] had tried to disobey and leave, [the police] would have obstructed them, physically stopped them. The [EC officials] did not attempt to disobey, but they did ask the police why. And a sergeant there said this is what they had been ordered to do. They did not allow EC officials to leave the building with documents.”


Protesters adopt new tactics during fifth night of calls for elections

Additional reporting by Leah Malone

Multiple arrests and pepper spraying marked the fifth consecutive night of protests on Tuesday evening, as supporters of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) demonstrated near the Supreme Court in Male’.

Both regular police officers and Special Operations branches of the Maldives Police Service (MPS) were present at yesterday’s demonstrations, as well as Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officers who were manning barricades.

The Supreme Court has been the focus of protests after its order to indefinitely delay the second round of the presidential elections forced the Elections Commission (EC) to concede that the September 28 run-off could not go ahead.

Thirty female protesters gathered near the Supreme Court in the early evening and were met by Special Operations police in riot gear and MNDF officers. MDP MP Eva Abdulla and former Education Minister Shifa Mohamed were among those detained by police during the demonstration.

By 11:00pm approximately a thousand protesters had gathered near the FDI Station on Fareedhee Magu – the closest protesters can go to the Supreme Court building, as the area remains cordoned off by police and military forces.

Following a series of speeches by MDP MPs – including Eva Abdulla who was released from police custody in time to address the crowd – the demonstrators altered their strategy. Instead of remaining in a single location, the protesters divided their numbers between multiple locations on the north side of the capital.

Hundreds peacefully walked the back roads behind the Supreme Court calling for elections, and were met by MNDF officers in riot gear guarding the alleys leading to government buildings. A group of protesters were met by approximately 30 Special Operations police in riot gear near Republic Square, which prompted the crowd to continue their march.

After regrouping near the FDI building the protesters staged another march down Chandanee Magu, to Majeedhee Magu, and back up Orchid Magu – all main thoroughfares in the capital city. Groups of onlookers were seen gathered in front of private businesses and homes, some of whom joined the protest.

The seemingly spontaneous marches were to intended to disorient the smaller numbers of Special Operations police, an MDP activist and former government official told Minivan News during the demonstration.

Minivan News observed MNDF in riot gear blocking protesters from approaching government buildings, however they deferred to police once fresh squads arrived at the various intersections.

Standard police officer’s – ‘blues’ – were observers using pepper spray on protesters, while Special Operations officers sent in snatch teams to pluck people from the crowd once numbers had dwindled to around 400.

Although the police website reported 10 people arrested, Minivan News witnessed up to 20 people taken into police custody before the protest ended around 2:30am.

Picture by Ranreendhoo Maldives

Following criticism of police arrest procedures at the Parliamentary Privileges Subcommittee yesterday, the police today released a series of statements stating that strip-searching, testing for drugs and handcuffing were legal, and “not inhumane.”

The MDP has alleged arbitrary and frequent use of pepper spray, beating, strip-searching, frisking, handcuffing and drug tests of their supporters arrested at protests.

Arrests “not inhumane”

In a statement today, the police said they were authorised to frisk and strip-searches under Articles 32-36 of the the Police Powers Act. The articles state that police are authorised to frisk and carry out strip searches if the police have reasonable grounds to believe the detainee may hold an object to harm themselves or another, or an object for intoxication, or an object to commit an illegal object.

In a separate statement today, the police said that handcuffing is not an “inhumane act” saying the police are authorised under Article 57 of the police powers act to handcuff detainees while they are being transported.

The police said they are also authorised to ask for urine samples to do drug tests if there were reasonable grounds to suspect the detainee was intoxicated, even if the individual was not detained on suspicion of drug use.

Prosecutor General Ahmed Muizz meanwhile told the Parliamentary Privileges Committee that police could only carry out drug tests if the detainee was arrested for suspected drug abuse, or if police had reasonable grounds to suspect detainees arrested on different charges have used drugs.

Police carried out a drug test on Haveeru journalist during one of this week’s earlier protests, and requested a urine sample from MP Ali Azim.

Police also expressed concern about media taking photographs of the operations.

“Who is taking these photos? She’s snapping pictures of everything we do,” one SO officer objected to a colleague.

“Let her take photos, what can she do with them, right?” the second officer remarked.

“We should just take her in,” said a third.

The Supreme Court has yet to make a decision on Gasim Ibrahim’s bid to annul the first round of results after he placed third, despite the court concluding the hearings last week.

Earlier this week, court media officials offered assurances that the case was being worked on “around the clock”.

Speaking at a Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) event on the island of Maafushi yesterday, presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen suggested that street protests would not influence the outcome.

“The Maldives will obey the rulings of the judicial courts. Street rulings will not work in the Maldives,” local media reported Yameen as saying.


Parliament accepts bill on inclusion of women’s committee chair in island council

Parliament on Monday (June 26) accepted an amendment proposed to the Decentralisation Act by Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Rozaina Adam to reserve a seat on island councils for the chair of women’s development committees.

The bill was accepted with 38 votes in favour and sent to committee for further review.

During the preliminary debate, most MPs supported the proposal in principle while others argued against affirmative action on the basis of gender.

Elections for women’s development committees to function under island and city councils took place in November 2012 in 102 islands.

Under article 36 of the landmark Decentralisation Act (Dhivehi), the powers and responsibilities of women’s committees are: (a) Advise island council on matters related to island development and municipal services provided by the council; (b) Own properties and conduct business activities with others in the name of the committee; (c) Sue and be sued in the name of the committee; (d) Conduct various activities for income generation and for the development of women; (e) Work to uphold the rights of women; (f) Work to increase religious awareness amongst women; (g) Work to increase political participation of women; (h) Work to increase the numbers of women enrolled in higher  education; (i) Work to improve the health condition of women; (j) Gather important information related to women; (k) Manage assets and finance of the committee.