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High Court rules Yameen Rasheed's sister be reinstated, granted 6 months compensation

High Court has ruled that Aishath Rasheed was wrongfully dismissed from her job at the Maldives Police Services. Rasheed said that she is pleasantly surprised by the verdict, happy to receive vindication that she was unfairly removed from her post.

Mariyath Mohamed
22 February 2024, MVT 12:28
Family, friends and other concerned individuals participate in a demonstration held in relation to the forced disappearance of journalist Rilwan and the murder of his friend, blogger Yameen.-- Photo: Maldives Independent
Mariyath Mohamed
22 February 2024, MVT 12:28

High Court has ruled that Aishath Rasheed, sister of blogger Yameen Rasheed, was wrongfully dismissed from her job at the Maldives Police Services.

The Court ruled that Rasheed must be reinstated to her former position and given six months' salary in compensation for losses incurred due to wrongful termination.

Rasheed was dismissed from her post at the Maldives Police Services (MPS) on August 16, 2017, following her participation in a demonstration held to mark three years since the forced disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan.

Ahmed Rilwan, forcibly disappeared since August 8, 2014, was a close friend of Rasheed's brother, Yameen Rasheed - who himself was later murdered on April 23, 2017. Prior to his murder, Yameen was a steady and constant presence at the numerous demonstrations and efforts held by family and friends in efforts to find Rilwan or get justice in his case.

Rasheed's dismissal from the Police services came just four months following the murder of her brother, Yameen.

High Court's ruling has come in response to an appeal filed by Rasheed after Civil Court ruled against her in a case she initially filed with them.

The case filed at Civil Court sought a ruling that Rasheed was dismissed from her position in contravention of the Constitution and laws, and that salaries and allowances due in this period must be paid in compensation, as well as damages for loss incurred.

In the reasons for dismissal provided by MPS, their Disciplinary Board stated that Rasheed had participated in a gathering held without seeking prior permission in accordance with the Freedom of Peaceful Assembly Act. However, Rasheed rebutted that seeking permission for the gathering is the responsibility of the organizers and not individual participants, and hence, she was unaware that permissions had not been sought. Based on this, High Court ruled that the Civil Court's decision that Rasheed had confessed to participating in an illegal gathering is wrongful.

The Police Disciplinary Board also alleged that the placards and signage used at the demonstration evidenced that the demonstration was more politically inclined and accusatory of police than it was for seeking rights for a disappeared individual. Based on this, action was taken against Rasheed in accordance with a regulation for police staff. However, the investigation was conducted with charges of having participated in a gathering that contravenes the Freedom of Peaceful Assembly Act.

Thereby, High Court stated that the relation between the accusation and the action taken has not been adequately defined.

It was further stated that action against Rasheed had been taken without completing the investigations that were being conducted against her.

Hence, ruling that she was dismissed against the laws and regulations, Chief Judge Hussain Shaheed, Judge Mohamed Niyaz and Judge Dheebanaaz Fahmy unanimously voted for her reinstatement, as well as for her being compensated with six months pay and allowances. High Court ordered that the decision on this must be notified to Civil Court within seven days.

"Just wanted authorities to admit it was unfair"

Aishath Rasheed said that she is overall happy to have the High Court rule in her favour on the matter. However, she remains pragmatic, and awaits to see if police will appeal the case at the Supreme Court.

"I was pleasantly surprised," she said, adding that, understandably, she tends to be skeptical in nature, because "I have learned that court rulings are not necessarily always followed through".

"Just the fact that they said it was an unfair dismissal. I guess that is what I wanted. For some authority to admit that I was done wrong by," Rasheed said, appreciating the feeling of being vindicated after years of struggling to prove her case.

Rasheed shared that during the previous administration, a commission had ruled that she had been unfairly dismissed. However, Police, at the time, said that there was no procedures in place to reinstate an individual based on the findings of a commission.

According to Rasheed, the police offered her an alternative, where she can apply for a new post at the services and start afresh. She states that she declined the offer.

"I declined the offer, because what I was looking for was not a position. I just wanted them to apologize for what they did. And for it to be a public apology. Nothing makes up for what they did to our family. Which is why I decided to take the matter to court."

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