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Families urge new parliament to endorse commissions bill

Ahmed Aiham
29 May 2019, MVT 18:37
The mother and sister of abducted journalist Ahmed Rilwan, during a march that marked two years since blogger Yameen Rasheed was brutally murdered. PHOTO: AHMED AIHAM / THE EDITION
Ahmed Aiham
29 May 2019, MVT 18:37

Families of abducted journalist Ahmed Rilwan, as well as slain blogger and IT professional Yameen Rasheed, urged the newly sworn in 19th Parliament to pass the presidential commissions bill.

The bill will grant independent commissions formed by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih under Article 115 of the Constitution, the authority to make formal accusations against those responsible for corruption and murder cases.

Revealing the truth behind Rilwan's disappearance and apprehending the perpetrators behind the murders of lawmaker Dr Afrasheem Ali and Yameen was one of President Solih's key electoral pledges.

A vote on the bill was scheduled thrice during the previous parliament but failed to gain traction as it was allegedly "sabotaged" by the opposition and failed to gain quorum to proceed further.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) secured a supermajority in the newly elected parliament with a total of 65 seats out of 87 constituencies.

Previously, the families attributed failure to pass the bill as stark evidence of political influence.

Only bodies defined as investigative authorities under the Criminal Procedure Code, implemented in September 2017, are granted the right to investigate a criminal offence and forward cases to the Prosecutor General's Office.

At present, the Commission on Investigation of Murders and Enforced Disappearances conducts its investigations in co-operation with the Maldives Police Service.

However, President of the Commission on Investigation of Murders and Enforced Disappearances, Husnu al-Suood, previously stated that certain procedural difficulties have caused delays.

The commission is mandated to investigate the unsolved murders and disappearances that occurred between January 1, 2012, and November 17, 2018.

Raising various concerns over judicial and investigative processes, such as changes to the presiding judge and lack of trust in the Justices, the families requested the executive and legislative bodies as well as the judiciary to bring about reforms in the administration without hesitation.

Wednesday marks 766 days since Yameen's murder and 1,755 days since Rilwan's disappearance.

Rilwan's whereabouts remain unknown since he went missing in August 2014. The state confirmed that he was kidnapped and prosecuted two suspects, who have since been acquitted of their charges.

Yameen was stabbed in the stairwell of his apartment building on April 23, 2017. The trials of seven suspects arrested and charged with involvement in the murder are currently ongoing.

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