Parliament cancelled after MDP MPs protest non-inclusion of police brutality debate

Today’s sitting of parliament was cancelled after MPs of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) vociferously protested the non-inclusion in the agenda of a motion without notice to debate police brutality.

Shortly after the sitting began, Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim – presiding in the absence of Speaker Abdulla Shahid – declared that the counselor-general had advised, in reference to section 140(c) of the parliamentary rules of procedure, that MDP’s motion “by its nature was not one that must be debated after setting aside the Majlis’ work.”

Under the rules of procedure, acceptance of a motion without notice opens the parliament floor for a one-hour debate.

Counselor-General Fathmath Filza later posted a message on Facebook explaining  that, “The primary object of an urgent motion is to draw the attention of the Majlis to a recent matter of public importance having serious consequences and in regard to which a motion with proper notice will be too late.

“The Standing Orders of the Majlis require the matter proposed to be of such a character that something very grave which affects the whole country and its security has happened, and the Majlis is required to pay its attention immediately by interrupting its normal business. It is therefore, an extraordinary procedure which, if admitted leads to setting aside the normal business of the House for discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance.”

Following Nazim’s announcement, MDP MPs raised consecutive points of order objecting to the non-inclusion in the agenda. Nazim however ruled that points of order could not be raised on the issue, causing an uproar and forcing the Deputy Speaker to adjourn the sitting until 11:00am.

In his point of order, MDP MP Mohamed Riyaz argued that the issues raised in the motion were of urgent concern, as police in uniform were entering private residences to rob expatriates, and police as well as the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) had not investigated police brutality against MPs, councillors and civilians on February 7 and 8.

Soon after the sitting resumed, Nazim invoked his authority as the Majlis chair to evict MDP MPs Mohamed Rasheed and Ibrahim Rasheed from the chamber after both MPs continued angrily to raise clamorous points of order.

Nazim adjourned the sitting again at 12:00pm after the MDP MPs refused to leave the chamber.

The Deputy Speaker eventually announced the cancellation of today’s sitting at 1:00pm after only nine MPs were in attendance despite ringing the quorum bell for five minutes. Last week’s sittings were also adjourned numerous times over loss of quorum.

“I have to say with much regret that today’s sitting is over without getting any work done,” Nazim said, adding that “obstruction” of parliament sittings by one of the main parties was “very regrettable.”

Motion without notice

Following the second adjournment today, MDP MP Eva Abdulla tweeted: “Majlis refuses debate on MPS [Maldives Police Service] brutality but starts Freedom of Assembly Bill which ironically defines how much force police can use in a gathering.”

The motion without notice, submitted by MP Imthiyaz Fahmy ‘Inthi’, states that police brutality against civilians since the contentious transfer of power on February 7 had become “systematic.”

Moreover, the motion referred to two police officers in uniform along with a group of plain-clothed police and army officers “intimidating and robbing” expatriates on June 8.

The motion noted that police officers in uniform forcibly entered the premises of the expatriate workers to rob them of their cash and mobile phones, adding that a member of the police investigation team and a Special Operations (S.O) officer were implicated in the robbery.

Inthi’s motion also expressed concern with the arrest of senior police officers on charges of contributing to a report released by two prominent MDP members on the alleged “coup d’etat” that forced the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed “under duress.”