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Maldives opposition pushes police watchdog to penalise brutality

Mohamed Visham
19 July 2016, MVT 16:09
Police control protesters gathered near the criminal court for the sentencing of a top opposition lawmaker on Monday. MIHAARU PHOTO/MOHAMED SHARUHAAN
Mohamed Visham
19 July 2016, MVT 16:09

Main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Tuesday filed cases against several police officers accused of brutality and obeying unlawful orders.

MDP secretary general told reporters that the cases were filed at the National Integrity Commission (NIC) with evidence.

The cases include video and photographic evidence of the police officers removing the name tags in violation of the uniform code to brutally crackdown on opposition protesters, Anas said.

However, MDP did not disclose the number of police officers accused.

The NIC last week had vowed to probe and take action against police officers found guilty of violating the law.

Responding to a police statement, NIC president Mohamed Faruhaad had reminded the police that the law permits action against individual police officers.

Police in a statement last week had said individual police officers would not be held liable for thier actions while on duty.

“As police officers act on orders, the entire police service would take responsibility for any infringements of the law,” the statement had read.

MDP secretary general Anas (C) flanked by lawmakers Rozaina Adam (R) and Imthiyaz Fahmy during the press conference on Tuesday. MIHAARU PHOTO

Anas referred to the NIC statement by pointing out that the commission had the authority to penalise uniformed police officers.

A ban on street protests in the capital Male has been in force since a police crackdown on a three-day protest staged by the MDP last November. The police have since blocked the opposition’s anti-corruption walks as well as marches by the media and civil society.

Police have repeatedly insisted that article 33 of the Freedom of Assembly Act allows restrictions for “protecting the rights and freedom of others.”

However, MDP has continued to insist that the police cannot ban a gathering in advance.

The 2013 law authorises the police to order organisers to curtail the duration of a gathering, to maintain a specific noise level, to end the gathering before a specific time, to refrain from using loudspeakers, to refrain from using foul language, and to hold the gathering at a specific time.

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