Missing journalist’s family accuses police of negligence, files complaint

Missing Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan’s family has accused police of negligence in investigating the reporter’s disappearance and has filed a formal complaint with the Police Integrity Commission (PIC).

Speaking at a press conference today, Rilwan’s sister Mariyam Fazna noted that 82 days had passed without apparent progress in police investigations.

“Our family is in deep mourning. We have no way forward. We believe police negligence is behind the lack of progress in finding Rilwan,” said Fazna.

The police have failed to take the case seriously, despite an abduction outside Rilwan’s apartment building on the night of his disappearance and reports that he had received numerous death threats and had been followed, she said.

Eyewitnesses had reported the abduction at knifepoint at around 2am on August 8, but police only took their statements on August 14, the family said. The police had also failed to track down and search the car used in the abduction.

“If the abduction had been investigated immediately at the right time, the police would have been able to find the victim and clarify if it is our brother or not,” Fazna said.

The police only searched Rilwan’s apartment 29 hours after the abduction was reported and searched his office 11 days afterwards. The police also failed to make a public announcement on Rilwan’s disappearance – despite a request by the family – and did not inform the public on how to act if they had any information related to the case, the family explained further.

Meanwhile, Rilwan’s sister Fathimath Shehenaz condemned the police for disrespecting a family in grief, pointing to a police statement on September 23 in which they claimed political parties were using the family to obtain information about the investigation.

“These words are extremely disrespectful to a family suffering the disappearance of a loved one,” she said.

The People’s Majlis on Tuesday threw out a 5055 signature petition urging MPs to pressure police for a through and speedy investigation. The parliament secretariat later admitted the rejection was “a mistake,” according to MP Imthiyaz Fahmy who sponsored the petition.

Four men have been arrested over Rilwan’s disappearance, but only one man remains in custody at present. The police have revealed few details on the case.

Home Minister Umar Naseer said he believed Rilwan is alive and promised to return him safe to his family. He has also acknowledged involvement of criminal gangs in the case.

Human rights NGO Maldivian Democracy Network released a report in September implicating radicalised gangs in Rilwan’s disappearance.

Discounting theories of voluntary disappearance and suicide, the investigation – conducted by Glasgow-based Athena Intelligence and Security – concludes the disappearance is likely to have been an abduction.

The report confirmed evidence of possible “hostile surveillance” at the terminal conducted by two known affiliates of Malé based Kuda Henveiru gang.

The NGO on October 23 accused the police of negligence in investigating the disappearance for their failure to inform the public on progress and failure to confirm if the abduction reported on the night Rilwan went missing was related to his disappearance.


Fuvahmulah Hospital denies negligence in stillbirth and soldier’s death

Fuvahmulah Atoll Hospital has denied allegations of negligence in a series of medical incidents including a case of stillbirth and the recent death of a soldier on the island.

The hospital’s statement came in response to comments by Fuvahmulah Atoll Councilor Hussain Saeed, in which he blamed the hospital’s management and Health Minister Dr Mariyam Shakeela for “worsening conditions” at the hospital.

On May 31, a gynecologist at Fuvahmulah Atoll Hospital suspended a caesarean on a pregnant woman halfway through the surgery. That same night, the gynecologist refused to perform a caesarean on another pregnant woman after the fetus died in the womb. The patient’s family said the doctor had cited lack of obstetric gel to ease birth.

The following day, a soldier died of a heart attack while playing football on Fuvahmulah. Then on June 3, the family of a three-year-old told local media that doctors at the Fuvahmulah Hospital had given the child a wrong injection.

However, Fuvahmulah Hospital has denied any wrongdoing in the four cases and condemned the council’s comments saying they are “deeply saddened to note that the Fuvahmulah Atoll Council’s press conference on these incidents spread falsehoods and incited fear among the public.”

At a press conference at the President’s Office today, officials from the Health Ministry also defended the Fuvahmulah Hospital, but said investigations were underway to see if any negligence had occurred.


Speaking to the press in Malé yesterday, Saeed and five other councilors from the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) expressed concern over lack of doctors and medical supplies, and the quality of medical care at the hospital.

“We previously thought the Fuvahmulah Hospital was not cooperating with the Health Minister in implementing the government’s health policies. But when things at the Fuvahmulah Atoll Hospital drop to this level, it shows Health Minister Shakeela has been negligent in implementing President Yameen’s health policies,” Saeed said.

Councillors said there were 123 pregnant women on Fuvahmulah at present. The island has a population of 13,000, of which 700 are children.

Although a neonatal ICU has been opened on the island, the facility does not have a pediatrician, Saeed said.

He noted a lack of medical equipment and supplied on the island stating: “There are only two thermometers in the hospital. Doctors and nurses only have two machines to check blood pressure.”

“Doctors [told us] when they ask the management for chemicals, the management told them to make do with what is available,” he continued.

Doctors also said the management shut down any initiative to improve facilities, Saeed said.

“When Fuvahmulah doctors take initiatives to improve facilities at the hospital, Fuvahmulah hospital’s administrative officer threatens doctors and tell them not to speak about the hospital. [Doctors said] they are made to work overtime, but overtime remuneration is cut from their salaries,” Saeed said.

Procedures followed

In a statement today, the Fuvahmulah Hospital explained that the first pregnant woman had arrived at the hospital for a routine check up, but was hospitalised when the doctor noticed the fetus’ heartbeat was too fast.

The gynecologist scheduled a caesarean with the family’s consent, but suspended the surgery after making an incision. A pediatrician and a second gynecologist were brought from neighboring Addu City hospital to complete the surgery.

The operation was completed successfully and no harm was caused to either the mother or child, the hospital said.

Speaking to the press at the President’s Office today, gynecologist Dr Hawwa Hana said the Fuvahmulah doctor followed the correct procedures.

“From our observations it appears [the doctor] during the surgery noticed issues that could endanger the mother that they had not noticed before,” she said.

“The placenta was at an unusually low position, and because of this there were changes to the mother’s veins, and the doctor suspected it may cause complications such as excessive bleeding. They decided not to remove the baby and wait for additional help from another team from Addu,” she said.

The Fuvahmulah Hospital said they also had not detected any negligence in the stillbirth case.

The pregnant woman had been hospitalised at 10:30pm on May 31 when the gynecologist noticed the baby’s pulse declining during a checkup. The fetus died in the womb, and the doctor opted for a natural birth.

When the baby was delivered at dawn the next day, doctors found the umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck, the hospital said.

Hana went into further detail stating that the doctor did not have the opportunity to save the baby before the pulse dropped.

“With the baby’s death, the highest priority is the mother’s life. And so instead of a surgery, a normal delivery was recommended,” she said.

Soldier’s death

Fuvahmulah Atoll Councilor Hussain Saeed said Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) Corporal Abdulla Nazmee had not received any emergency care when he collapsed while playing football. The hospital’s ambulance arrived on the scene with just a driver and no emergency care facilities, he said.

The Fuvahmulah Hospital, however, said the doctor had not detected a pulse when Nazmee was brought to the hospital.

“But this hospital’s doctors and nurses tried to see another way. We would like to note emergency response injections and facilities are available at this hospital,” the statement read.

The hospital also said the three-year-old who is said to have received the wrong injection in fact received an antibiotics injection. The child’s condition did not decline because of the injection, the hospital said, adding that the child is now doing well.


February 9 detainees in Addu “forced to walk on smoldering coals”, says former PIC chair

Detainees arrested in Addu City after the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012, reported being “forced to walk on smoldering coals,” former Police Integrity Commission (PIC) chair Shahindha Ismail has said.

Police stations and courthouses were set ablaze in Addu after a brutal police crackdown on opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) protesters in Malé.

Shahindha said that a four member PIC team visited the southernmost atoll from Februay 10- 13 on the request of then Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz, interviewing police officers and over 75 detainees.

“Almost everyone who was arrested said they were taken to the Gan Police station. Police officers took them through the burnt down buildings and accused them of arson. They said were pushed onto the coals and forced to walk over smoldering coals. We saw burns on various parts of their bodies. They also said they were tortured and pepper-sprayed. Some of the detainees said the police had threatened to burn them and their houses,” Shahindha told Minivan News.

Shahindha has called on the PIC to expedite investigations and expressed concern over “intentional negligence” on the part of both the PIC and People’s Majlis.

Meanwhile, police officers in Addu City said they had not received any instructions or help from their superiors, and had to sleep on the street after protesters burnt down their accommodation block along with most of their personal belongings.

“The police officers we spoke to were very traumatised and angry. They had no clothes, they were sleeping on the street. They did not even have toothbrushes, and were obviously not fit to do any policing,” she said.

In instances where a complaint is not filed at the commission, a majority of the PIC has to agree to launch an investigation. Shahindha said she had completed a report on the Addu City findings and asked the commission to investigate. But the PIC had not reached a decision on the issue when she had left the commission in October 2012.

New PIC chair Abdulla Waheed was not responding at the time of press.

“I have informed the People’s Majlis independent commission oversight committee on multiple occasions of the existence of the report. An Addu MP is on the committee. While the PIC must investigate such serious allegations, the Majlis has a responsibility to ensure the PIC does its job,” Shahindha said.


Arson in Addu City destroyed the police stations in the Hithadhoo and Gan districts, and the police accommodation block and training center in the Hithadhoo district.

On February 9, police officers arrested over 85 people from their houses, cafes and from boats on the sea. Detainees said police officers had relied on information provided by certain members of the public and had been quite arbitrary in who they arrested.

According to Shahindha, some detainees told the PIC team the police had handcuffed them and thrown them into a military truck. Afterwards, the police sat on them and beat them with batons.

With police facilities destroyed in the fire, detainees were not given access to sanitary facilities and were forced to sleep on the ground. They reported not being given the right to appoint a lawyer and said they were not brought in front of a judge to extend detention.

“In one instance, there was one man who had a medical condition and he had asked to see a doctor. He said that four police officers took him and two other men in the police van. But instead of taking them to see the doctor, the police officers drove around and parked the van in the sun,” she said.

“The detainees said their hands were cuffed to the back and that it was very hot inside the van. They said they became very thirsty in the heat. After an hour, they were taken to the burnt remains of the police station and the police officers threw ash over them. We saw remains of ash in the pocket of one of the detainees.”

An Amnesty International report in February 2012 alleged the Maldivian National Defense Forces (MNDF) attacked a group of peaceful female protesters in Addu during the unrest.

“We were left for dead”

The torching of the police buildings destroyed many police officers personal belongings including motorcycles, phone, laptops and clothes. What was not burnt was looted, officers told the PIC.

When protesters in Addu City confronted the police, they had no tear gas to control the crowd and did not have sufficient armor or shields.  They could not reach their superiors and did not receive any instructions or help, Shahindha said.

“One officer told me ‘we were left for dead there’ ”, she said.

“The PIC conducted an initial assessment on state funds. There is a report on all of these findings. The PIC must investigate and the People’s Majlis must oversee the PIC.”

“Police officers who were responsible for the torture must be investigated and prosecuted, and their superiors must be investigated for negligence and failure to provide protection to the police,” she said.

In August 2012, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) recommended that the police, PIC, and MNDF should investigate the failure to contain unrest in Addu and take legal action against security service personnel who were deemed negligent or responsible for the inaction.

The police and PIC should also “immediately investigate” allegations of torture in custody and inhumane treatment of detainees from Addu City and take action against the responsible police officers, the HRCM recommended.

In addition, the commission stated that legal action should be taken against police officers who were negligent in providing medical treatment to detainees as well as against officers who “violated the dignity of private households and infringed upon the rights of residents” during the arrest of suspects from their homes.


3-week-old tests positive for drugs

A three week-old baby has tested positive for drugs and is being treated at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) in the capital Male’.

According to Haveeru, the baby had been affected by it’s mothers drug habit; police records indicate that the mother has a history of drug abuse.

Although police are investigating the case, the mother is staying with the baby at the hospital and has not been arrested due to her child’s young age. However, reports indicate that the baby has not been handed over to the mother.

Previously, the mother of an eight month-old baby who tested positive for drugs was sentenced to six months in prison for negligence, reports Haveeru.


Civil Court may summon High Court Chief Justice and Majlis Speaker as witnesses in JSC negligence case

The Civil Court is considering whether or not to summon High Court Chief Justice Abdul Ghani Mohamed and Majlis Speaker Abdull Shahid to give evidence in the ongoing professional negligence case against the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

The Civil Court may also summon Interim Civil Service Commission Chair, Dr Mohamed Latheef and former Attorney General Husnu Suood in relation to the same matter.

The request to have Chief Justice Ghani summoned to give evidence in court came from the JSC. It wants the court to accept Chief Justice Ghani’s oral testimony in place of the written evidence it was required, but failed, to submit to court today.

The remaining potential witnesses, Speaker of the Majlis Abdulla Shahid, Interim Civil Service Commission Chair, Dr Mohamed Latheef and former Attorney General Husnu Suood may be summoned at the behest of Treasure Island Limited, which is suing the JSC for professional negligence.

Civil Court Judge Mariyam Nihayath had given JSC until today to provide documentary evidence to show that it followed proper procedures in deciding not investigate three complaints made by Treasure Island against former Supreme Court Justice Mujthaz Fahmy and Judge Ali Naseer.

JSC Legal Representative Andul Faththah told the court today that he could not find the required documents. He asked the court to accept instead the oral testimony of Chief Justice Ghani, then Chair of the JSC.

The Constitution and JSC regulations both require that any decision regarding complaints of misconduct against the judiciary has the support of the majority of its ten members. The JSC is also required to keep a record of the members present and how they voted at the meeting.

Treasure Island has alleged that this procedure was not followed by the JSC in dealing with its complaints. Arbitrary and partial decision-making processes, it alleges, prevents the JSC from performing its constitutional duty to ensure “equal justice for all”.

A letter dated August 2009 and signed by Chief Justice Abdul Ghani, then JSC Chair, said in reply to one of Treasure Island’s complaints that the allegations were beyond the remit of the JSC and required no further investigation.

Judge Nihayath asked the JSC for the agenda and minutes of the meeting at which the decision was taken not to investigate the Treasure Island complaints any further.

JSC Legal Representative Abdul Faththah said today there was no such evidence to give to the court. This did not mean, however, he said, that no procedure was followed at all. “It was a different procedure then.”

The “different procedure” he explained, was one in which the JSC Chair pre-screened all the complaints from “an administrative perspective” to verify whether they were complaints that fit within the remit of the JSC.

“If the complaints were more to do with administration – such as a complaint against a long delay in cases being heard or listed”, Faththah said, “the matter would not be taken any further”.

The “administrative decision” taken by the Chair, he said, “saved time, and allowed members to concentrate on the important matters, and their constitutional duties.”

Chief Justice Ghani’s oral testimony will prove to the court the JSC did have a procedure in place, Faththah said. It would, he also said, negate the allegations that JSC made arbitrary decisions regarding complaints it received.

Judge Nihayath said she will decide at the next hearing on 21 December 2010 whether or not any or all of the potential witnesses would be required by the court.


Letter on Hulhumale’ Hospital

Mr President,

I am writing you, Mr President, to inform you about the death of a student of Grade 9 at Ghaazy School Hulhumale’ on August 9, 2010.

According to the student’s parents, the student attended Hulhumale’ Hospital with severe chest pain on August 8, 2010. A doctor (an Indian national) prescribed medicines and sent her away without doing any of the investigations which are usually done by good doctors.

Since all chest pains are NOT normal, this doctor should have referred her to the physician who is also working at Hulhumale’ Hospital. But this doctor neither referred her to that physician nor did any investigation like an ECG or blood tests, from which a physician could normally identify whether it was a chest pain related to gas in the stomach or a heart-related problem.

So, therefore, I would like to inform you Mr President, that this is a problem which has to be solved without any further delay. I also like to mention that this is a very sad story, and that many people who seek medical treatment at this hospital feel that some doctors and nurses are so careless that they recently gave an expired injection (which was sold by a pharmacy) to a young child without noticing that it was expired. This means neither the pharmacist nor the nurse noticed that it was already expired.

This is not something we can correct by investing additional money BUT we can easily with proper supervision of the hospital manager. For this hospital it is much, much easier to solve such problems because the hospital manager is both a manager and a medical doctor.

Mr President, this email is intended to inform you about what is really happening in our beloved country so that our beloved President could keep it in mind even with the very tight and very busy, VERY IMPORTANT engagements at this critical time.


All letters are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write a letter, please email it to [email protected]