PIC asks police to “stay within guidelines” when handling protest

The Police Integrity Commission (PIC) has asked the police “not to be biased” in handling the separate protests to be held this Friday by the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and religious organisations and opposition parties.

The PIC statement reminded the police that they are required under law to protect every Maldivian citizen and their property, while maintaining peace and harmony.

“Therefore, the commission reminds the police of its responsibilities in monitoring the protests to be held on December 23 and asks not to be biased in upholding the Maldives constitution and the laws,” the statement read.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said “police are closely monitoring everything related to the protests and will manage the events as necessary. Police will act according to the situation.”

Minivan News observed that the PIC is mandated to investigate complaints regarding the police. However, it was unable to clarify if the body was mandated to issue cautions and requests in advance of an event.

Shiyam said the police did not feel obligated to comply with PIC advance directives. “No, the statement has not altered our operations,” he said.

The commission has also urged protest organisers to preserve the social harmony in the country and protect each others’ rights.

A relatively new independent organisation, the PIC lately reported an increase in public awareness of its services.

Speaking to Minivan News at UNDP’s “Did You Know?” event on November 26, PIC member Dr Hala Hameed said, “We are getting more reports of police misconduct than previously.”

Hameed stressed that the PIC supports the police as well as the community. “We are here to empower the police and ensure that they have the appropriate resources to do their work, as well as oversee their operations.” She explained that the public believed independent bodies were likely to be effective.

The PIC has been involved in the build-up to the protests since November when the Islamic Ministry deemed the Addu SAARC monuments unconstitutional.

Two days prior to the UNDP event religious NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf sent a letter to the PIC demanding it investigate and take action against police for protecting the ‘idolatrous’ SAARC monuments in Addu, which it considered unconstitutional.

A police spokesperson subsequently said police were not protecting any “idols”.

“Those were properties of other nations and police are legally obliged to protect people’s property,’’ he said.

Religious organisations including Adhaalath party are gearing up for a protest to ‘defend Islam’ on Friday, December 23. Ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) currently plans to hold a defensive protest on the same date. Some politicians have requested that MDP step down from its protest to avoid unnecessary clashes.

PIC Director Shahinda Ismail did not respond to inquiries at time of press.