Minor raped in Addu City

A 15-year-old girl was raped in the Maradhoo ward of Addu City last week after she was given alcohol, reports local media.

According to newspaper Haveeru, the minor was raped by a group of men and was found lying on the road.

Police have arrested suspects in connection with the case.

“We are questioning all the suspects we have identified relating to the case, we will look in to this quite seriously,” Chief Inspector Ahmed Shifan, commander of the police south division, was quoted as saying.


Three men arrested in Fuvahmulah for rape

Three men have been arrested in Fuvahmulah on suspicion of raping an 18-year-old woman, reports local media.

Police revealed that the three suspects – aged 21, 22 and 26 – were taken into custody on Monday (September 1) with arrest warrants issued after the rape was reported on Friday (August 29).

The incident occurred the night before and police are reportedly searching for two additional men suspected of involvement.


MNDF corporal arrested for rape

A corporal at the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) was arrested on charges of rape on Wednesday (August 27), reports CNM.

According to the online news outlet, the 27-year-old corporal was arrested on suspicion of raping a woman at a guest house in Malé.

Police have confirmed that two men were taken into custody in connection with the case. The second suspect was aged 23, police said.

CNM reported yesterday that the 23-year-old was arrested from Laamu atoll. His remand detention was extended to seven days by the Fonadhoo magistrate court.

The remand detention of the MNDF corporal was reportedly extended to 10 days by the Criminal Court.


Supreme Court upholds reinstatement of police inspector dismissed after rape allegations

The Supreme Court has today upheld the High Court ruling to reinstate Chief Inspector Hussain Risheef Thoha who had been dismissed after being accused of raping a woman inside a police car.

The ruling stated that, although the victim had alleged that a group of police officers attacked her, she did not state that Risheef participated in the rape.

Commenting on today’s ruling today, Maldivian Democratic Party MP and lawyer Imthiyaz ‘Inthi’ Fahmy expressed concern the court would ask for the reinstatement of an officer after its disciplinary board had decided that there was enough evidence to link him with a rape case.

”These are not just ordinary citizens, these are senior police officers accused of a serious crime,” Inthi said. ”This is very dangerous and serious.”

Risheef had called the officers who were inside the car, said the Supreme Court today, stating that this did not prove he had participated in the attack.

The ruling noted that there was no record of a phone call in which Risheed instructed officers to rape the victim.

The court ruling stated that Risheed had gone to the area where the girl had been left after the incident, and had given her a t-shirt to cover herself up.

Again, this does not prove that Risheef had participated in the act, said the court, noting that helping a person in that situation to cover up is how it should be done in Islamic principles.

The court also criticised the police disciplinary board for taking action against Risheef based on the allegations, saying that this was against Islamic principles and international best practice.

The case

In August 2011, a woman filed a case at police headquarters alleging she was sexually abused by a group of police officers, including Risheef.

Thoha later appealed his dismissal by the police disciplinary board at the Civil Court, which ruled that the decision had been lawful and that there was enough evidence to dismiss Risheef from duty.

The Civil Court noted at the time that Risheef’s call records showed he had contacted the other accused officers several times, and in turn had been contacted by them.

The ruling also said that the girl was thrown out of the car naked near the chief inspector’s house in Maafannu, and that Thoha had admitted to being in the area a few minutes later.

In August 2012, the High Court overruled the decision made by the Civil Court and ordered that police reinstate Risheef at the rank of chief inspector.

In September 2012, the High Court upheld a Civil Court ruling to reinstate Police Lance Corporal Ali Nasheed to active duty, who had been dismissed in relation to the same incident.

Recently, police said that they would only accept dismissed officers in a situation where the Supreme Court ordered the reinstatement of their position in the police.

Lawyer Inthi said that such issues makes the people lose confidence with the police force.

”This shows that issues like this are not taken seriously,” he said. ”The disciplinary board is a board that has the authority to dismiss police officers if they find that there was enough evidence to believe that a police officer is guilty of a crime.”


Two men arrested after rape of 15-year-old girl

Police have arrested two men after a 15-year-old girl was raped on the island of Hulhumalé.

Local media outlet Haveeru reported that the girl was raped by a gang of four men, two of whom are still being sought after by police.

Police have confirmed that the two men arrested – aged 21 and 29 – are linked to this case. Hulhumalé police station and the Family and Child Protection Department is investigating the case.


Corruption, religious freedom, and judiciary biggest human rights problems in Maldives, say US report

The US State Department has described “charges of Supreme Court interference to subvert the presidential elections process,” as among the most significant human rights problems in the Maldives in its 2013 human rights report.

Also highlighted in the report were restrictions on religious freedom, and “corruption of officials in all branches of government”.

No instances of imprisonment on political grounds, unlawful deprivation of life, or disappearance were recorded, while progress was noted with regards to the passage of the anti-torture and right to information bills.

The report accused much of the judiciary of being unqualified and corrupt, and noted that its rulings during last year’s presidential elections had the effect of restricting the independence of the Elections Commission (EC).

The judiciary was described as “not independent and impartial and was subject to influence and corruption”.

It said that a number of judges were “known to base their rulings on cash rewards, and there were reports that lawyers occasionally built the cost of bribes into their fees” while the public generally distrusted the judiciary.

The report estimated that one in four judges have a criminal record, and that two carried convictions for sexual assault.

It was suggested that the outcomes of cases appear to be predetermined, such as the repeated intervention of Supreme Court in the presidential elections where the court directly accepted cases without allowing lower courts to hear them first.

The October annulment ruling and the 16-point guide to conducting elections was reported to have given both the court and political parties veto power over the EC, “curbing its independence and its ability to execute its mandate”.

The report also mentioned the alleged sex tapes of Judge Ali Hameed and his continued presence on the bench.

“Many judges, appointed for life, held only a certificate in sharia, not a law degree. Most magistrate judges could not interpret common law or sharia because they lacked adequate English or Arabic language skills,” read the report.


The report noted that security officials employed practices that fell under what it regarded as ‘torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment’.

While proper arrest procedures were found to be in place, the report noted that police did not fully implement them, particularly in dealing with protests. It was also noted that courts sometimes freed detainees “on the condition that they not participate in protests or political gatherings for a specified number of days”.

In regard to the cancelled October 19 presidential election, it was reported that “Police abdication of their responsibility prevented the elections from occurring”.

It was found that six cases of police brutality were sent to the Prosecutor General’s Office in 2013, but that five of these officers remained with the police – with one of them being promoted – and two cases later dismissed for lack of evidence.

Referring to the Police Integrity Commission (PIC), the report stated that two of three cases where police officers were alleged to have sexually harassed detainees in 2012 were also dropped for lack of evidence.

While the prisons were found to have ‘met most international standards’, it was also found that they were overcrowded.

Flogging, Rape, Domestic Violence and Sexual Harassment

The controversial case of a 15-year-old victim of sexual abuse being sentenced 100 lashes was recorded, detailing the fact that her alleged abuser received no sentence at all. The girl’s sentence was annulled by the High Court following a government appeal due to domestic and international pressure.

The penal code does not classify rape as a separate offense, the report stated, while the PG’s Office lost almost all cases of forced sexual assault due to insufficient weight was given to the testimony of the victim.

Spousal rape is not considered a crime under the law, and according to the report difficulties remain in implementing the domestic violence act due to religious beliefs.

While the Ministry of Health and Gender was said to have received just five cases of sexual harassment, the report stated that various forms of harassment were accepted as the norm in government offices. The protracted removal CSC President Mohamed Fahmy Hassan was noted in the report.

While the law stipulates sentences of up to 25 years in prison for those convicted sexual offenses against children, the report said that “if a person is legally married to a minor under sharia, however, none of the offenses specified in the legislation are considered crimes”.

In 2012, a total of 47 underage marriages were registered at the court, of which 35 involved girls and 12 involved boys.

Civil and political rights

Common to human rights reports on the Maldives, restrictions on freedom of speech and expression in order to protect Islam was noted. Media self-censorship in issues related to Islam – for fear of harassment- and in issues relating to the judiciary were detailed.

One piece of legislation criticised through out the report was the the Freedom of Peaceful Assembly Act, which was said to be restricting freedom of expression and the press along with freedom of peaceful assembly itself.

The report said this law “effectively prohibits strikes by workers in the resort sector, the country’s largest money earner”.

With regards to privacy, the report stated that standards required for court permission to monitor mails and phone conversations was very low.

Discrimination and attacks against Raajje TV, in particular the attack on Ibrahim ‘Asward’ Waheed, were mentioned. As the case of the attack against Asward continued, no arrests were made regarding the attacks against journalist Ismail Hilath Rasheed in 2011 and 2012. Hilath’s blog continues to be blocked.

The government was found to have failed to enforce applicable laws with regards to workers rights, and the report criticised established mechanisms such as the employment tribunal as “cumbersome and complicated” which violators of employment law often ignore.

“According to the Labor Relations Authority (LRA), there were four strikes. In two cases the employer refused to work with the LRA as mediator and strike participants were fired. In two others, the LRA participated by phone but strike leaders and others who persisted with the strike were terminated,” the report said.

It stated that some undocumented migrant workers were subject to forced labor in the construction and tourism sectors, while domestic workers – especially migrant female domestic workers – were sometimes trapped in forced servitude.

Without any laws on refugee or asylum status, a family of four Palestinian refugees from Syria were housed in Hulhulé island without being rehoused upon UNHCR’s request until asylum was granted for them by Sweden.

Read the full report here.


52 year-old man sentenced to 10 years for child sex abuse

Bileidhoo Magistrate Court on the island of Bileidhoo in Faafu Atoll has sentenced a 52 year-old man to 10 years for sexually abusing a minor.

Police identified the 52 year-old man as Hassan Zareer, 52 of Jeymugasdhoshuge in Bileidhoo, Faafu Atoll.

According to the police, on January 9, 2013, the Family and Children Services Centre in Faafu Atoll reported the case to police alleging that Zareer had sexually abuse a minor multiple times on different days.

Police said that during the trial Zareer denied the charges against him, however, the court ruled that the witness statements produced by the state, the report submitted by the Family and Children Services Centre in Faafu Atoll, the Medico Legal Report submitted by the state and the police investigation was enough to rule Zareer was guilty.

The court stated that all the documents produced to the court were official documents that can be considered as evidence according to the Act Number 12/2009 Special Measures Against Perpetrators of Child Sex Abuse.

Bileidhoo Magistrate Court’s ruling stated that the victim told her father and aunt about the incident and according to what the victim has said, Zareer has completed five elements of the crimes stated in the Act 12/2009.

The court also ruled that Zareer was guilty of the crime beyond reasonable doubt as stated in article 51[h] and Zareer was sentenced under article 3[c] of Act Number 12/2009.

Furthermore, the court advised Zareer to refrain from big and small acts of crimes and sins.

The police concluded the investigation in to the case and sent it to the Prosecutor General’s Office on 25 February 2013.


Police search 2100 expats over Hulhumale’ rape without finding suspect

The police have told local media that, despite searching 2100 expats in a special operation launched to locate and apprehend the expatriates connected with the rape of a 19 year girl in Hulhumale’, no suspect has yet been found.

The incident occurred on Saturday August 3 at about 9:30am. The man allegedly snatched the girl from the street and raped her in some bushes near Reethi Gas Magu Road.

Police told local newspaper Haveeru that expats living on Hulhumale’, Thilafushi, and Male’ have been searched and that police haven’t been able to locate the suspect.

The operation is still on going.


Fourteen year-old girl latest victim in surge of rape crimes

Police are investigating the rape of a 14 year-old girl on Muli island of Meemu Atoll, the latest incident in an increasing number of sexual crimes against women and girls in the Maldives.

According to the police the incident was reported around 1.30am Sunday night, and a 19 year-old man was arrested on charges of rape.

The suspect has a history of criminal behaviour including assault and theft, police stated.

Rise in rapes

The 14 year-old’s rape comes less than two weeks after a 19 year old girl was snatched from the streets of Hulhumale’ and allegedly raped by a man believed to be an expatriate on the early morning of August 3.

More than 1000 expatriate workers have been searched and interrogated in the ongoing hunt to find the foreign national accused, according to police.

Just two days later on August 5, the police stated that two minors and two men have also been arrested in connection with the rape and filming of an underage girl in a house in Male’. The rape incident occurred on July 27.

Meanwhile, on July 30, the police arrested four men and one minor in connection with the gang rape of a 17 year-old girl on the island of Milandhoo in Shaviyani Atoll.

Police acknowledged that an increasing number of rape and sexual abuse cases had been reported this year.

“We urge parents to be more careful with children’s whereabouts, and check who they meet and hang out with,” a police spokesperson noted. “Parents also need to be careful of people who visit their homes.”

Surveys indicate that most of the sexual perpetrators are known persons, including family members and friends.

Last year three cases of rape incidents were reported to the police while in 2011 a total of 13 cases were investigated, according to the annual police statistics report 2011/2012.

Most cases were gang-rapes and the victims included girls as young as 13.

Tip of the iceberg

Sharing her concerns over the increasing number of sexual crimes against women, Assistant Representative of UNFPA Maldives Shadiya Ibrahim warned an increasing number of rape cases were just “the tip of the iceberg”.

She suggested that many of rape and abuse cases go “unreported and uninvestigated” .

“The culture of impunity is one factor why sexual violence against women and girls is increasing,” Shadiya observed.

While a number of rape cases are reported in the Maldives, few are prosecuted – especially if the victim is 18 or above.

Rape cases involving minors are prosecuted as child abuse cases with a maximum penalty of 20 years depending on the magnitude of the offence. In contrast, rape cases in which the victim is an adult, are deemed as “forced fornication” under the existing regulation on sexual offences, according to the Prosecutor General Office. To prove fornication – whether forced or not – requires a confession or four witnesses.

“Due to this burden of proof, proving rape cases becomes next to impossible,” a state prosecutor told Minivan News in an earlier interview on the subject.

Therefore, adult rape victim’s cases are detracted to a sexual assault or harassment offence, in which the four witnesses and confession is not required. However, penalty for sexual assault is only two to three year long imprisonment.

The amended penal code and sexual offences bill currently being deliberated by parliament committees provide a legal remedy to the problem of inadequate legal definition of rape, and if passed will ease the existing burden of proof, making it easier to prosecute rape cases.

Meanwhile, the UNFPA also named other underlying issues contributing to the surge in sexual violence against women; including gender-inequalities that makes women and girls particularly more vulnerable to abuse and secondly, men’s attitude.

“A recent survey based on men’s experiences of violence shows that entitlement is one of the main reason for men to rape,” Shadiya pointed out. “Men surveyed believe it is their right to rape and they can simply get away with it.”

She concluded that a huge shift was required in the attitudes of public and authorities in condemning violence against women as an inexcusable human rights violation.

“Parliamentarians, prosecutors, police and judges needs to be gender-sensitised to achieve progress in reducing violence against women.” she added.

Minivan News contacted the Gender Ministry but had received no response at time of press.

Earlier this year, Maldives came under international scrutiny following the sentencing of a 15 year old rape victim to 100 lashes on charges of fornication – a symbolic case reflecting the systematic injustices suffered by some rape victims.

Widespread international coverage of the sentencing has since led to over two million people signing an Avaaz.org petition calling for her sentence to be quashed, a moratorium on flogging, and reform of laws to protect women and girls in the Maldives.