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Youth, Sports, Community Ministry chastises NGOs for "backing" violation of law, threats to national security

Shahudha Mohamed
15 July 2020, MVT 15:55
Mariyam Shunana, one of the founders of PILC (Public Interest Law Centre) leading the #JaagaEhNei protest, demanding justice for victims ad survivors of rape and sexual assault. PILC is a non-governmental organization founded by a group of lawyers and law students. PHOTO: AHMED AWSHAN ILYAS/ MIHAARU
Shahudha Mohamed
15 July 2020, MVT 15:55

Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, on Tuesday, expressed concern that the narratives and initiatives of certain non-profit organisations, were encouraging the violation of the law, claiming they posed a threat to national security.

According to the ministry, these NGO movements are being conducted outside of the powers that are granted under the freedom of assembly.

The statement was met with criticism from NGOs and the public.

In a statement publicised on Twitter, the ministry requested all registered NGOs to refrain from encouraging initiatives that may jeopardize national security and public harmony.

However, the ministry’s statement welcomed initiatives that utilise the freedom of speech and freedom of assembly to improve societal issues.

According to Youth Ministry, pointing out areas for improvement and holding the authorities accountable was important in building a reformed democratic society.

Former Deputy Attorney General and current parliament representative of Vilimale Constituency Ahmed Usham's tweet translates to: "2016's decisions are now okay. Everything was considered wrong when [the then-opposition] campaigning for elections. When elected into office there is no memory of what was said back then. The same people who spoke most loudly about Section 32 of the Constitution do not remember anything they said anymore". He posted the tweet with a screenshot of Section 32 of the Constitution, which states, "everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly without prior permission of the State".

This statement was publicised at a time when the state had come under fire for the mistreatment of exploited migrant workers and failure to deliver justice for the victims and survivors of rape and sexual assault.

Despite the ongoing health crisis, expatriates and advocates against sex crimes recently staged various demonstrations in the Greater Malé area, the former demanding for their salary payments and basic human rights while the latter demanded the government to arrest rapists and ensure justice.

Many lawyers have stood up to voice their concerns regarding the government's statement against NGOs.

However, The Edition has confirmed with many of the individuals, that they were present as activists and were therefore not representing the position of their respective civil society organizations.

Moreover, the most vocal advocates of migrant worker rights, left-wing political movement Navaanavai, is not an NGO.

The incumbent administration's failure to meet the demands reiterated by various penalised parties have resulted in harsh, ongoing criticism of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, government authorities and institutions, as well as ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

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