MDP concern over stalled Majlis investigation into Ibthihaal case

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has voiced concern over the slow pace in which the Majlis investigation into the death of 3-year-old Mohamed Ibthihaal has been proceeding.

MDP MP Rozaina Adam said that, despite the government oversight committee receiving reports from the relevant authorities a week ago, a meeting has not been scheduled.

“We have been pleading and begging with the committee chair Riyaz Rasheed to schedule a meeting,” said Rozaina. “This investigation is getting stalled because a meeting has not been scheduled.”

The motion to investigate the death of the boy from Vaavu Rakeedhoo-year-old, who was found dead on January 28 with signs of severe physical abuse, was proposed by Rozaina, fellow MDP member Ahmed Falah, and Jumhooree Party MP Moosa Nizar.

Government oversight committee chair Riyaz Rasheed, of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives, was not responding to calls at time of publication.

He explained last week that the first hearing into the case had been adjourned after most members of the committee requested more time to analyse the recently received documents.

Commenting on the reports given by the police, Rozaina said that the details given consisted only of events which occurred after Ibthihaal’s death, and did not have any details of the events leading up to his death.

Rakeedhoo island councilor Abdulla Rasheed had previously told Minivan News that the council had informed authorities Ibthihaal was being abused prior to his death.

Rozaina also said that the reports revealed police had not informed the Family Protection Agency (FPA) of the case, as required by Article 14 of the Domestic Violence Act, which states that the police shall inform the authority if any member of the police is present at the scene of an incident of domestic violence or when the incident is reported.

She said that the FPA has been facing severe budget constraints as it has not been able to obtain finances, since money was not allotted to the authority by the parliament as per Article 55 of the Domestic Violence Act.

“The PPM majority budget committee did not hold meetings with the FPA. In addition, the FPA has informed us that it is being run by only two to three staff members,” she said.

FPA staff have confirmed to Minivan News that they have only three technical staff members, with Policy and Advocacy Director Aminath Leena Ali saying this was “not even close” to enough staff to deal with the current workload.

She noted that there had been an increase in reports of abuse since news of Ibthihaal’s death broke. NGO Advocating the rights of Children has described the rise in reported incidents as the “tip of the iceberg”.

MP Rozaina went on to accuse the government of negligence, saying that the gender ministry has no parliament-approved minister. The ministry has been headed by Attorney General Mohamed Anil since its creation in July last year.

In addition, she said that the gender ministry’s child helpline 1412 has stopped functioning, and is not picking up calls.

“Ibthihaal’s murder illustrates when the government does not adequately address social issues,” said the Meedhoo MP.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) – who is also conducting investigations into Ibthihaal’s death – released a press statement last night urging media outlets to not publish articles which might hinder its investigations or mislead citizens.

Related to this story

Majlis begins investigation into Ibthihaal’s death

State negligence investigated in death of Rakeedhoo child

Body of abused child found in Vaavu Rakeedhoo

MPs need more time for Ibthihaal investigation


UN Maldives commends government’s response in water crisis, opposition condemns

The United Nations in the Maldives has commended relief efforts during the Malé water crisis, though the opposition has attacked the governments preparedness and subsequent handling of events.

In a press release today, the UN in Maldives commended the “outstanding response” of the government, noting that measures were also being taken to address the needs of vulnerable and special needs population.

“The situation does not warrant any humanitarian assistance at the moment. UN is working with the Government to monitor closely that there will be no deterioration of the situation,” the statement continued.

The President’s Office announced today that the closure of government offices would continue for the rest of the week, while offers of foreign assistance have continued to pour in.

Meanwhile, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) condemned government efforts – in particular the decision to continue billing residents for water usage.

“Water should be provided free of charge until the water crisis is resolved,” said Rozaina while speaking at an MDP press conference.

Minister of Defense Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim said this morning that the Malé Water and Sewerage Company’s (MWSC) board of governors have decided to implement a 30 percent discount on water transactions for the month of December.

Addressing the public for the first time during the crisis yesterday, President Abdulla Yameen noted that getting water supplies to the upper floors of buildings had been problematic.

MWSC’s decision contradicts a company statement released two days ago (December 6) saying customers would not be charged until the current crisis is over in order to provide relief for the ground floor level residents who have been donating water.

MWSC charges a progressive rate on the water usage, which rises as the usage increases over a MVR30 fixed monthly charge. The rate can go as high as MVR95 per cubic meter when usage increases over 500 liters.


Nazim also revealed governments plans to set up a ‘Malé water crisis management fund’ to collect donations in order to recover the MVR300 million (US$20 million) spent on the management of the crisis.

Rozaina criticised the estimated figure of US$20 million by saying that the MDP demanded a technical viewpoint on the damages and an explanation of why US$20 million is required for the repairs. The party has asked whether MWSC’s facilities were insured.

An unnamed Saudi Arabian has already donated US$ 1 million to the fund while local business group Champa Brothers pledged to provide US$100,000.

The MDP has also slammed the government’s failure to give a set date for the resumption of normal services, with members of the president’s task force telling local media yesterday that the issue could not be solved within a “politically desirable” timeframe.

Continuing its extensive relief efforts, Indian navy fleet tanker INS Deepak arrived yesterday bringing with it 1,250 tons of water. The water was then pumped to tanks in Malé through 400 meters of pipe.

The ship – which also has RO capabilities – is now at anchorage near Malé where it be producing 100 tons of water per day which will then be transported to the capital via barges.

Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives, MR Rajeev Shahare – speaking aboard INS Deepak yesterday – said that the Indian government had offered technical assistance with the repairs which was refused by the government saying that they are consulting a Japanese firm.

So far, 10 Indian military airplanes have landed at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) bringing with them more than 200 tons of water.

State Bank of India (SBI) also joined relief efforts today, distributing 7.5 tons of water.

A Chinese vessel which arrived last night capable of producing 90 tons of water per day delivered 600 tons of water today to the capital. Two Chinese military flights landed last night with 40 tons of water in between them.

A Bangladeshi military vessel with 5 desalination plants and one hundred tonnes of water is also due to arrive on Thursday (December 11).

Meanwhile, President’s Office Spokesperson Ahmed Muaz announced today hat the government has decided to close all its offices in Malé for the rest of the week after considering the difficulties people could face as a result of the current water problems in Malé.

Muaz noted said that the President’s Office will be open from 10 am to 1pm,while the Maldives Monetary Authority has also announced that it and other banks will be between 11am to 2pm to provide banking services for the public.

Related to this story

No fall back for disaster of this magnitude: President Yameen

Government seeks US$20 million in donations to repair Malé’s desalination plant

President Yameen to return to Maldives as water crisis enters third day

Nasheed calls for inquiry into MWSC fire


PPM and MDP elect parliamentary group leaders

The Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have elected leaders of their parliamentary groups.

Ruling PPM elected MP for Villimalé constituency Ahmed Nihan in an election held on Monday. MP for Vilifushi Riyaz Rasheed was elected as a deputy. Nihan is now the majority leader as PPM holds a majority in the parliament with 38 MPs.

MP for Hinnavaru constituency Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Solih was elected uncontested to head the opposition MDP’s parliamentary group in an election on Sunday. He is now the Majlis’ minority leader.

MP for Meedhoo constituency Rozaina Adam was elected deputy PG leader of the 25 member MDP group.

The 14 MP Jumhooree Party (JP) also elected their MP Gasim Ibrahim as parliamentary group last week.

The 18th People’s Majlis convened on May 28.


Parliament passes sexual harassment and sexual offences bills

Parliament passed the sexual harassment bill and sexual offences bill yesterday (April 27).

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Rozaina Adam – chair of the committee that evaluated the sexual harassment bill – told Minivan News that while the passage of the legislation was a positive step, there was still a lot of work to be done on combating the internalised effects of sexual harassment.

The sexual harassment bill was submitted in January 2013 by Rozaina, and aims to ensure gender discrimination is made illegal at workplaces, educational institutes, and other service providers such as hospitals.

“Previously there was no law or any regulation from which they could seek help. I think now the women have a place to go,” she explained.

If ratified by the president, the new law would mandate the creation of a committee to investigate sexual harassment complaints at all workplaces with more than 30 employees.

The committees shall be chaired the by the head of the respective offices and must include at least one female members.

If the committee finds an employee guilty of sexual harassment at the workplace following an inquiry, it will be empowered to advise the offender verbally or in writing, suspend him, demote him, or dismiss him based on the severity of the offence.

Rozaina however suggested that women would “still not be complaining” despite the introduction of an internal mechanism to address complaints.

“People have come to accept that this is just something that just happens,” she said.

She however said that the legislation would “create awareness,” contending that not enough was done in implementation of similar laws such as the anti-domestic violence law.

“Police are not taking domestic violence seriously enough,” she argued.

Rozaina recalled the story of one woman – whose experiences reflect the reality for many – as she attempted speak out about the sexual abuses inflicted against her.

“She was waiting outside for me,” recounted Rozaina, “she told me she complained to police about ex-husband beating her, and raping her. When I went to case, they hadn’t even done anything about it.”

“They are not giving enough importance to these cases, we need to create more awareness.”

Cooperation from police seems to be “declining”, she added, “they don’t feel it’s an important issue.”

“I just hope that everyone cooperates and more women report these cases in domestic violence. The main issue is talking and reporting, so very few people report.”

Sexual offences

The two bills – which support both men and women who are victims of sexual abuse – were submitted independently of each other.

The sexual offences bill – which called for recognition of marital rape as a crime – was first submitted in October 2012 and was vetoed by President Abdulla Yameen in January 2014.

“The bill contained some provisions that are contrary to Islamic Shariah and Islamic principles was among the reasons considered for returning the bill,” the President’s Office stated at the time.

The contentious bill was drafted and submitted in October 2012 by now-Progressive Party of Maldives MP for Kulhudhufushi South, Mohamed Nasheed.

Nasheed wrote in the draft legislation that it was not intended to replace Shariah, explaining that it did not preclude application of a Shariah penalty for an offence specified in the bill.

Previous reports of police apathy

Minivan News has previously spoken with foreign women from diverse nationalities working in Maldives who came forward and reported various attacks, ranging from verbal abuse to physical and sometimes sexual assaults.

Katie*, a 34-year-old American who has worked in Male’ for almost a year, was subject to a horrific incident last month when a local man sexually assaulted her while she was unlocking the door of her apartment.

Neighbours who heard her screams called the police, and around five to six officers arrived on the scene with a forensic team.

However, according to Katie, the police did not take her statement until three weeks later and then got the details of the attack completely wrong.

“The police had stated my necklace was stolen. It broke off during the attack, I still have it. The attacker must have known the necklace I was wearing was not gold because it was made of multi-colored beads,” Katie pointed out.

She added that she had later found out from CCTV camera owners nearby her house that the police had not requested the footage or interviewed neighbours for clues. Frustrated over the lack of police assistance, she called the US embassy.

“I don’t think they would have even taken the statement if the American Embassy had not called them,” Katie claimed.

The Police department was not issuing statements to Minivan News at the time of publishing.

*Names have been changed to protect identities.


MDP turns focus to local council elections

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) must present its vision of functioning city, atoll and island councils to the public ahead of the local government elections on January 18, former President Mohamed Nasheed said last night at the opposition party’s first post-election rally.

Speaking to thousands of supporters at the carnival stage area in Male’, Nasheed noted that the chapter on decentralisation in the constitution was added by the MDP while others insisted that it conflicted with the Maldives being a unitary state.

“Maldivian rulers should not think after this January that they could govern without city councils, atoll councils and island councils,” Nasheed said.

While the People’s Majlis has oversight powers to hold the government accountable, Nasheed said it was the councils that “directly provide services to the public.”

The purpose of decentralised administration was to bring the government “closer to the people,” he said, adding that the MDP government worked closely with the councils elected in February 2011.

The MDP’s vision for city and island councils should be based on the experience of the past three years, he said.

Nasheed referred to the signing of a waste management contract with India’s Tatva Global Renewable Energy earlier this month.

The contract should have been signed in February 2012 but was delayed by the previous administration, he continued, which worsened the waste disposal problem in the capital and deprived the city council’s waste management section of necessary investment.

The former MDP presidential candidate expressed confidence of winning the council elections against the parties in the government coalition.

Nasheed observed that the MDP won clear majorities in the presidential election from urban centres such as Male’ City and the southernmost Addu City as well as a plurality of votes in most other constituencies.

As the party would win against more than one candidate from different parties, Nasheed said the MDP should assume that government-aligned parties would field single candidates.

“We must face this contest on our own, with our own courage,” he said.

“MDP is a ship for all seas,” Nasheed said, adding that the party was equally fit for governance and opposition.

Nasheed vowed that the MDP would hold the present administration answerable and watch over its actions “every minute of every day.”

The party would keep citizens informed, he added, asserting that the country could “no longer be governed through deceiving the public.”

“Freedom of assembly and freedom of expression must be defended even with our lives. We have to maintain this system that we’ve got,” Nasheed said.


EC condemns DRP MP Rozaina for “misleading the public”

The Elections Commission (EC) has condemned main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Rozaina Adam for allegedly misleading the public about a by-election to be held in Baa Atoll Thulhaadoo to replace a dismissed DRP councillor.

Thulhaadhoo DRP Councillor Umaira Abubakur was dismissed after she missed more than seven council meetings in a row without providing a valid reason, according to the EC.

Under article 119(b) the Decentralization Act, aa councillor can be removed if he or she misses seven consecutive meetings “without offering a valid reason that is acceptable to the council.” Umaira did not attend ten meetings which took place while she was ostensibly participating in a workshop in Bandos Island Resort.

Speaking at a press conference last week, Rozaina had said that Umaira was not informed of the council meetings as stipulated in the Decentralization Act, alleging that the four Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) councilors on the five-member island council conducted six emergency meetings in her absence as part of “a planned effort” to remove her from the post.

“There are a number of things that prove that she was dismissed without any grounds and that this was planned by them,” Rozaina had said. “Up until May, the Thulhaadhoo council held 23 meetings. However during the period when Umaira went to the workshop, they held ten meetings, four of which were normal meetings but the other six were held as emergency meetings.”

She added that the emergency meetings were conducted to decide trivial matters. “For example, an emergency meeting was held for the sake of changing the days where normal meetings take place.”

The EC contended in a press release yesterday that Rozaina’s remarks implied that it the decision to dismiss was made by the EC and not the council.

“In dealing with matters related to local councils or other matters, the Elections Commission does not refer to the wealth and gender of the person and will act with respect to the rights of the person and with adherence to the authorities vested in the commission under laws,’’ the EC in response to Rozaina’s remarks about discrimination against a female councillor.

Moreover, the EC denied that the commission was “in a rush” to hold the by-election, pointing out that the law dictates that an election has to be held within 45 days from the day a seat becomes vacant.

MP Rozaina was not responding to calls at time of press.


DRP issues statement in support of Thasmeen after criticism from Gayoom’s family

Members of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) are claimed to be throwing their weight behind current leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali after he last week came under criticism from the family of his predecessor and former President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Press reports in the Maldivian media have continued to focus on the impacts of a DhiTV interview with Gayoom’s daughter Yumna Maumoon on Thursday, accusing Thasmeen of “spreading” autocratic rule.

Haveeru has reported that the party has sided with Thasmeen, although none of the MPs have publicly criticised the party’s ‘Honorary Leader’.

Yumna Maumoon said Thursday evening that DRP members were concerned that Thasmeen was ruling the party dictatorially, as well as failing to properly oppose the government of President Mohamed Nasheed.

The criticisms have added further weight to a split within the party down factional lines between various MPs.

In a statement, the DRP said that all policy decisions adopted by the party were made by majority decision agreed upon by an internal council.

“Therefore, the leader is required to execute any decision made by the council. This party does not believe that this is part of spreading the leader’s dictatorial ways within the party,” the statement read. “This party also does not believe that the leader should follow the instructions of a specific person in such a way that it contradicts with the spirit of the charter.”

DRP MP Rozaina Adam told Minivan News that according to the party’s rules, former President Gayoom’s position as ‘Honorary Leader’ and did not give him a say in the political running of the party.

“The political leader of the party is Thasmeen. He is the one who is legally responsible for the actions of the party. It is the DRP Council that votes on a course of action, not former President Gayoom,” Rozaina said.

She speculated that much of the tension within the party revolved around the Council’s decision last year to send former Deputy Leader Umar Naseer to the party’s disciplinary committee, which made the decision to remove Naseer from the DRP.

“It was the Council that voted to send Umar Naseer to the disciplinary committee, which made a decision regarding the issue, not Thasmeen himself,” Rozaina said, adding that it was doubtful whether Thasmeen even had the authority to change the decision of the committee.

The DRP had a review committee, Rozaina said, “but Umar did not even apply for that. Instead he went and complained like a little boy to Mr Gayoom, to try and get him to change the decision.”

A split was looking inevitable, she suggested.

“Right now it looks like we are heading towards that. A lot of members in the Gayoom faction have been talking about creating a new party. It probably will split – I don’t see us getting along or working together.”

Even in the event of a split, Rozaina said it was unlikely that the opposition’s parliamentary majority would be threatened. While there were five DRP MPs on Gayoom’s side, both sides were still working against the ruling MDP, she said.

The Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), led by former Attorney General Hassan Saeed, has already joined Thasmeen’s side of the DRP as a new coalition partner.

Rozaina said the party’s other coalition partner, the People’s Alliance, had been leaning in support of Gayoom’s side.

“There’s been a lot of rumours that [PA Leader and half brother of Gayoom] Abdulla Yameen is behind all this, and that this is something he has been planning from within,” Rozaina suggested.

DRP MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom told Minivan News that while he had no comment on any specific allegations, he was “very happy” with the democratic processes within the party.

“Every decision is made in a democratic manner,” he said.

Speaking to Minivan News last month, DRP MP Ahmed Nihan said that the current antagonism between factions loyal to Thasmeen and dismissed former Deputy Leader Umar Naseer had made the party very susceptible to rumour and damaging gossip.

However, he said at the time that the party would remain unified and that gossip that the party could be split into individual political groups loyal to either Thasmeen, Gayoom or other MPs was inaccurate.

However, the party has continued to be rocked by reports of literal infighting with DRP MP Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef claiming in February that factions within the party were trying to “stifle freedom of expression” in a bid to seize leadership.

Reports of factions within the DRP have circulated since Naseer’s departure last December, leading to violent confrontations at an official party meeting held the same month that required police intervention after the dismissed deputy leader attempted to gain entry to the event.

The disturbance was linked to a growing war of words between Thasmeen and Naseer, with the latter still choosing to campaign with his former party ahead of local month’s local council elections alongside Gayoom himself.

Various MPs including Thasmeen, Ahmed Mahlouf and dismissed former Deputy Leader Umar Naseer were unavailable for comment when contacted by Minivan News at the time of going to press.


MPs vote against referring to Supreme Court on provinces issue

Yesterday MPs rejected the resolution presented by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to refer to the Supreme Court on the controversial provinces issue.

35 MPs voted for the resolution while 38 MPs voted against the resolution.

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party Vice President and MP Ali Waheed said that he doubted the accuracy of the resolution, claiming that it was presented “to mislead the people.”

”MP Ahmed Sameer (who presented the resolution) has told so many lies standing near the podium,” Waheed said. ”Maybe he wanted to make a record for the first ever issue taken to the Supreme Court.”

The provinces section was removed from the decentralisation bill on the vote of the DRP, Dhivehi Qaumy Party (DQP), Peoples Alliance (PA), Jumhoory Party and several Independent MPs.

”I never knew that people voted to divide the country into seven provinces,” he said.

Waheed said even if the issue was taken to the Supreme Court, they were also unable to divide the country.

”It can only be done by the vote of 77 MPs,” he said.

Independent MP Ibrahim Muthalib said he was concerned that if the issue was taken to the Supreme Court, it would set a precedent and many decisions would be made by the Supreme Court.

”We are losing our dignity on our own,” he said.

MDP MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed said that the issue was not a constitutional issue, and was rather a political issue.

”Dividing the country into provinces were in both the MDP and DRP manifestos,” Nasheed said. ”To fulfill the pledges of MDP, it’s one path we have to go down.”

He said that it would be more beneficial if there were seven ‘Males’, instead of one.

”What is really going on is that some DRP MPs and vice presidents had told me that if the issue was taken to the Supreme Court, it would rule that it is lawful,” he said. ”They asked me how they will save face in front of the people if that was the case.”

He called on the DRP MPs to take the issue to the Supreme Court if they were confident on the matter.

”If the Supreme Court rules it is unconstitutional we will also be supporting DRP MPs,” he said.

DRP MP Ahmed Mahloof said the purpose of MDP presenting the resolution was to mislead the people.

‘The ‘DRP manifesto do not say it the party will divide the country into provinces,” he said, ”it says it would make four cities like Male’.”

Jumhooree Party MP Gasim ‘Buruma’ Ibrahim said it was not necessary to pass the resolution and take it to the Supreme Court.

”We should take this out of the parliament floor and continue our work making laws,” he said.

DRP MP Ahmed Nihan said that before taking the issue to the Supreme Court people should define the meaning of MDP’s pledges they made to the people.

”They pledged to provide houses for people made homeless by the Tsunami within one year,” he said. ”We should ask them what they meant by ‘one year’ and ‘providing houses’.”

MDP Parliamentary group leader Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik recently said that the MDP parliamentary group would put forward a no-confidence motion against the speaker of the parliament.

However, newspaper ‘Miadhu’ reported that DRP MP Rozaina Adam had claimed there were MDP MPs who would not vote for the no-confidence motion.

Rozaina told Minivan News that she did not wish to speak about the matter.

Reeko said that the parliamentary group would be deciding the matter after the decentralisation bill.

”We do not want to speak about it yet,” he said.

MDP Secretary General Ahmed Shah, Spokesperson Ahmed Haleem and Chairperson Mariya Didi did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.

DRP Vice President Umar Naseer said Reeko had promised to draft the no-confidence motion against the speaker not with the intention of doing it, ”but just to charge their activists.”

MDP can only get 27 votes even if the no-confidence motion was forwarded, he said: ”MDP can’t shoot goals in parliament.”