Police on Tuesday night acknowledged persisting police brutality among the force, and asserted that steps are being taken to curb such actions.
Maldives Police Service were summoned to the parliament by the Committee on Human Rights and Gender, regarding the recent incident where police officers beat up an expatriate during a drug raid. Speaking at the sit-down, Assistant Commissioner of Police Abdulla Ahmed stated that officers were encouraged to defend human rights and warned against police brutality.
"There have been a few cases where [officers] took harsh actions. We have the statistics. We're looking into the current case at every level in order to prevent any room [for brutality]", he said.
He emphasised that Commissioner Mohamed Hameed, along with the rest of the police leadership, have always urged officers against using disproportionate force. He noted that the police often received complaints regarding the interactions of officers with the public.
The latest case of police brutality surfaced after a video went viral on social media depicting police officers beating up a suspect last Thursday night before arresting him over drug possession. Following the video leak, Commissioner Hameed ordered the Professional Standards Command to investigate the issue. A special team is currently probing the case, and seven officers have been suspended.
Police launched the raid on the suspect's residence upon receiving intelligence of drug peddling. The officers arrested a 36-year-old Bangladeshi at the house, while a 28-year-old local, who jumped from a video and attempted to flee, was apprehended on the streets. The Maldivian was injured as he fell on an air-conditioning outdoor unit when he jumped to escape, according to the police.
Assistant Commissioner Ahmed stated that nine officers were involved in the raid. The leaked video depicted six of them beating up the expatriate. While the Professional Standards Command had requested the Disciplinary Board to take action against eight of the officers, Ahmed noted that only seven were suspended.
"But it's difficult to say, for now, which officer did what", he said.
Meanwhile, the heads of both Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) and National Integrity Commission (NIC) stated, at the committee meeting, that the two watchdogs were carrying out their own investigations into the case.
According to the police, 461 grams of suspected drugs were seized during the controversial operation.
The video depicts plain-clothed officers inflicting multiple blows on the suspect, including kicks and jabs after the individual was thrown down and pinned to the ground. Throughout the video, the person did not exhibit any signs of retaliation and was compliant to the officers' bidding. Moreover, an officer is seen smashing a concrete block on the man's left wrist, presumably in an attempt to destroy his wristwatch.
The officers involved in the case were further alleged to have attempted to delete the video, as it was recorded by civilians.