New national integrity commission will ‘cure PIC toothlessness’

The government has submitted a bill to replace the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) and the Customs Integrity Commission (PIC) with a single ‘National Integrity Commission’ (NIC) with greater powers.

The PIC, set up in 2009 investigates public complaints regarding police conduct, but cannot take punitive measures. It is only authorized to make recommendations to the home minister. The NIC, however, will have a wider mandate.

“We held extensive consultations in drafting the bill, especially with the PIC. They shared a lot of concerns, and the shortcomings in their current functioning is worrying. Although recommendations are given, there appears to be no compliance with a single recommendation,” deputy Attorney General Ismail Wisham said.

The new oversight body for the law enforcement agencies – including the Maldives Correctional Services and the immigration department – will investigate alleged violations of laws and regulations by employees, take administrative action, and forward cases for a police investigation to pursue criminal prosecution.

The commission can also recommend changes to regulations and procedures and assess the effectiveness of the law enforcement agencies.

“The NIC will cure the current toothlessness of the integrity commissions. There is really no use to a commission without powers. The new bill has provisions that will empower the commission,” Wisham said.

Fathimath Sareera, the chair of the PIC, was not available for comment at the time of going to press.

According to the PIC annual report for 2014, the commission investigated 141 complaints.

The CIC was established in January 2014. The commission investigated just one complaint in 2014, according to an annual report.

In a recommendation to reduce expenditure in December 2012, the parliament’s public accounts committee had advised merging the PIC and CIC to form a national integrity commission (NIC) with oversight over all state institutions.

Both the PIC and CIC have five members while the NIC will be comprised of five members. If the law is passed, the PIC and CIC will be dissolved and its staff will be transferred to the NIC.

The new commission will also take over pending cases. It will have the authority to form task forces, seek expert assistance from other state institutions, and summon witnesses.

The proposed law states that the five members must have experience or educational qualifications in five areas: legal affairs, governance or public administration, commerce or business administration, human resources, and the economy.

Commission members must also have a first degree and seven years of work experience and must not have parents, wife, husband, or children serving in a law enforcement agency.

The president will appoint members to the commission for a five-year term in consultation with the parliament. The draft legislation does not state that nominees must be put to a vote for parliamentary approval.

The president’s office said the bill was submitted to the parliament last week. The purpose of the new law is to strengthen the functioning of law enforcement agencies and lay out procedures and rules for investigating complaints.

Other independent institutions include the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, the Judicial Services Commission, the Anti- Corruption Commission, the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Auditor General’s Office.



PIC investigating Nazim’s complaint against Police Commissioner

Former defence minister Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim’s legal team has submitted an official complaint to the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) regarding claims that explosives were found in his home on January 18.

Lawyer Maumoon Hameed confirmed that the complaint was related to claims by the Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed on January 29, in which he stated that an improvised explosive device was found at Nazim’s residence along with a pistol and ammunition.

Hameed stated that the search records given to Nazim listing the items that were found and confiscated by the police during the raid did not include any explosive devices, explaining that police only announced its discovery after an analysis conducted without independent oversight.

“We submitted the search record along with the recording of Hussain Waheed’s press conference. No explosives were listed to have been found. That is false information,” Hameed told Minivan News today.

The claims that explosives were found – cited by police as evidence that Nazim intended to harm senior officials and overthrow the government – has also prompted Nazim’s legal team to file a defamation case against the commissioner in Civil Court.

PIC Chair Fathimath Sareera confirmed that the case has been received and is now under investigation, though no further details were given.

As well as suggesting that police had planted the evidence in Nazim’s home, former Commissioner of Police MP Abdulla Riyaz – also on Nazim’s legal team – suggested earlier this week that the discovery of such a device should have prompted the evacuation of the area.

The legal team has also raised questions over why Nazim was arrested after more than 20 days had passed since the police raid on his residence.

The High Court appeal into Nazim’s 15-day remand period – approved on the day of his arrest last week (February 10) – was concluded yesterday, though no hearing was scheduled for today.

Amnesty International are investigating his disappearance as a social media and poster campaign has sprung up calling for his release.

Nazim was dismissed as the defence minister on January 20, being replaced with Major General (retired) Moosa Ali Jaleel who served as the Chief of Defence Force during President Mohamed Nasheed’s presidency.

Related to this story

No forensic evidence against Nazim, says legal team

Former Defence Minister arrested on illegal weapons charge

Police accuse Nazim of plotting coup, planning to harm senior government officials

Pistol and explosive device found at Nazim’s home, says Police Commissioner

Police raid Defence Minister Nazim’s home in early hours


New PIC and EC members appointed by president

President Abdulla Yameen has today appointed Amjad Musthafa to the Elections Commission (EC), and Adam Saeed Moosa to the Police Integrity Commission (PIC).

The nominees were both approved by the Peoples Majlis last week, with Amjad’s appointment filling one of the two EC seats left vacant after the Supreme Court stripped former EC President Fuwad Thowfeek and Vice President Ahmed Fayaz Hassan of their membership in March.

The five year terms of two current commissioners – Mohamed Farooq and Ali Mohamed Manik – were scheduled to end today, meaning the EC does not currently have the constitutionally mandated quorum of three.

Moosa’s appointment to the PIC brings it up to the maximum of five appointees.


Majlis approves nominees to Police Integrity Commission, Elections Commission

The People’s Majlis today approved President Abdulla Yameen’s nominees to fill vacancies in the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) and the Elections Commission (EC).

Following evaluation by the independent institutions committee, MPs approved Adam Saeed Moosa to the PIC with 62 votes in favour, two votes against, and two abstentions.

Saeed was a senior official at the PIC. Following approval of his nomination, the president’s second nominee – Fathmath Minhath – was not put to a vote.

Meanwhile, of three nominees to fill two seats on the EC, parliament only approved Amjad Musthafa, from Gaaf Alif Maamendhoo Alivilaage, with 63 votes in favour, one against, and five abstentions.

Former EC Secretary General Asim Abdul Sattar received 23 votes in favour and 47 against while Aishath Hafeez received 22 votes in favour and 47 against.

The committee, however, had awarded Asim the highest marks with 91.4 points following its evaluation.

The five year terms of two current commissioners – Mohamed Farooq and Ali Mohamed Manik – are due to end on November 24.

Amjad’s appointment would still leave three vacancies on the five-member commission. Former EC Chair Fuwad Thowfeek and Deputy Chair Ahmed Fayaz were stripped of their seats by the Supreme Court in March this year.

Parliament subsequently approved Ismail Habeeb to the EC to replace a commissioner who resigned due to poor health – ensuring a three-member quorum for the parliamentary polls to be held as scheduled on March 22.


We don’t wish anyone else to go through same pain: Rilwan’s family

The family of missing Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan have welcomed the decision of the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) to look into allegations of negligence related to the investigation of his disappearance.

“We do not wish for any other family to face the pain and suffering this family has gone through in the past 95 days since Rilwan disappeared,” said the family in a press release today.

Pointing out that the suspected abduction of Rilwan was the first such case in the country’s history, the family said it was essential for the community that the investigation be trustworthy

“Police are reluctant to investigate to the extent that it leaves room to doubt their intention,” continued today’s statement.

While one suspect remains in custody in connection with the August 8 disappearance, Home Minister Umar Naseer has said last week that some cases cannot be solved, drawing parallels with missing Malaysian flight MH370 and the JFK assassination.

Naseer had acknowledged that gangs were involved before offering contradictory statements suggesting it could not yet be determined whether Rilwan’s disappearance was voluntary or enforced.

A private investigative report commissioned by the Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) in September ruled out suicide or voluntary disappearance, concluding radicalised gangs to have been the most likely culprits.

Both Naseer and Police Commissioner Hussain Waheed have taken aim at civil society and the media, as well as friends and family of the missing journalist, suggesting vital leads had been lost due to leaked information.

Accusations of a lack of respect shown to the family formed part of the complaint lodged by the family with the police watchdog.

“While the [MDN] report was not compiled with any involvement of the family, police making such allegations against the family are against professionalism of the police and rules for dealing with people who request the police’s service,” the family explained.

Repeated attempts to obtain information on the investigation prompted one police official to tell a family memeber: ‘There’s no further information to give even if you come every day made up like that wearing a burqa’.

PIC Chair Fathimath Sareera Ali Shareef told Minivan News last week that the case was like none the commission had ever received.

Other allegations made by the family suggest police did not properly consider a reported abduction outside Rilwan’s Hulhumalé apartment, previous kidnappings by gangs, and reports that he was followed and threatened as evidence indicating he may have been taken.

It is also alleged that officers in charge of Hulhumalé police station refused to authorise a request by colleagues to search a car stopped the same night, despite potential links with the reported abduction.

Police Commissioner Waheed has rejected accusations of negligence.

“I don’t believe any slips have been made in the investigation which would justify the accusation. But there are lessons to be learned with every investigation. We are learning the lessons,” he told Haveeru late last month.

Attempts to bring pressure to bear through elected representatives failed last month after the People’s Majlis rejected a petitions signed by over 5000 people for as yet unclear reasons.

Groups from across civil society have called for the search for Rilwan to be expedited, with Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) adding its voice today.

“The Centre for Independent Journalism stands in solidarity with our colleagues in the Maldives and urges you to ensure that an independent and unbiased police investigation takes place; that those responsible for the disappearance are brought to justice; and that Ahmed Rilwan is returned home to his family and friends,” read a CIJ statement.


New ACC members nominated, PIC members appointed

President Abdulla Yameen has forwarded 5 names to the People’s Majlis for membership of the Anti Corruption Commission.

Current members Hassan Luthfee and Muaviz Rasheed have been renominated along with Aminath Minna, Yazumeed Mohamed, and Sofwath Mohamed. The ACC’s inaugural five-year term is set to end this year.

The president has also appointed three members to the Police Integrity Commission with Ali Nadheem, Fathimath Sareera Ali Shareef, and Mohamed Faruhad receiving letters of appointment at the President’s Office yesterday.

The new members for the five-person commission had been approved by the Majlis earlier this week, while a fourth nominee was rejected.


Majlis approves president’s nominees for Police Integrity Commission

President Abdulla Yameen’s nominees to replace three members of the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) at the expiration of their five-year terms were approved at today’s sitting of parliament.

The three new members of the police watchdog body are Fathmath Sareera Ali Shareef, of special registry number 1320, Mohamed Farhad, of Seenu Meedhoo Hasankaarige, and Ali Nadheem, of Henveiru Gloriosa.

While Sareera and Nadheem were approved with 73 votes in favour and none against, Farhad was approved with 56 votes in favour and 18 against.

The president’s nominee to replace a fourth member on the PIC – who had resigned – was meanwhile rejected today. Adam Zahir, of Maafanu Kurolhi, was rejected with 61 against, five votes in favour, and three abstentions.

The People’s Majlis also passed government-sponsored amendments to the Lagan, Derelict, Flotsam and Jetsam Ownership Act of 1998 with 74 votes in favour and none against.

Amendments to the Police Act of 2008 was meanwhile accepted and sent to committee for further review with 74 votes in favour.

Both amendments were proposed by the government to make minor revisions to remove inconsistencies with the new constitution adopted in August 2008.


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.


President’s nominees forwarded to committee for vetting

A number of nominees by President Abdulla Yameen for independent institutions and diplomatic posts have been forwarded to the relevant standing committee for vetting at today’s sitting of parliament.

The nominees include President Yameen’s nephew Maumoon Hameed for the vacant post of prosecutor general, ‘Kurolhi’ Adam Zahir for a vacant seat on the Police Integrity Commission, and former MP Abdul Azeez Jamal Abubakur for the new post of Information Commissioner.

The nominees will be interviewed and vetted by the independent institutions committee.

President Yameen also nominated Aishath Zahira for deputy governor of the Maldives Monetary Authority.

Among nominees for diplomatic posts were Ahmed Shian as ambassador to the EU and non-resident high commissioner to the UK, Dr Mohamed Asim as the non-resident high commissioner to Bangladesh, Abdulla Hameed as the non-resident ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, and Fathmath Inaya as the non-resident ambassador to Singapore.

The nominees to the diplomatic posts will be vetted by the national security committee.