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Police attacks on Media contributes to decline in accountability and democratic backsliding.

Hamdhan Shakeel

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Staff Sergeant Solih is alleged to have threatened local media on the night of 18 May 2022.

The recent rallies and protest calling for the removal of Indian military forces in the Maldives has one undeniable fact, that the Maldives Police Service has become highly critical of local media outlets.

The advent of democracy marked the ushering in of a new era where unlike the yesteryears of Maumoon and his predecessors, the public were free to criticize and call for reform within the government and military forces. No longer were the police able to arrest people in the middle of the night and hold them in solitary confinement till a verdict is passed against them in a highly politicized judiciary.

Just as with every other sate institution, the police were held accountable, senior officers were prosecuted for their actions. Massive reform was made within the institution to hold them accountable and to develop a modern police force.

However, following the appointment of the former officer Mohamed Hameed who had been dismissed for leaking intelligence documents, as the Commissioner of Police, the whole institution has undergone a dramatic backsliding in its reform and development.

As a member of the press, we deal with the Police on a daily basis, submitting queries on a wide range of cases. Maldives Police Service has always not been on much good terms with the media thanks to their apparent prejudice that the media is the antithesis to the police in executing their duties during protest and rallies. However, under Commissioner Mohamed Hameed, the Maldives Police Service has adopted an unprecedented stand against media, actively barring media from covering domestic events.

Echoing the Maumoon era police brutality, the Solih administration has also utilized the Police to cover the brutality towards protestors and the media. Several high-profile attacks on the media has been brought to the attention of international media organizations such as RSF. However, this does not even remotely do justice for the countless attacks against the press, as they too perform their duty.

Their alienation and refusal to cooperate with the fourth estate is evident from their official police media group where the police repeatedly decline to even comment on any query by the press, only releasing statements and other messages they see fit.

Unforeseen to he general public, this poses a serious threat to the fundamental checks and balances in the democratic system where state institutions with overwhelming powers are kept in balance by independent state institutions and the fourth estate. In this case, the police’s refusal to cooperate nor allow the media to freely operate and cover political and other protests pose a direct threat to and contribute to the democratic backsliding in the Maldives, by removing the element of accountability from the equation.

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Gov’t does not obstruct freedom of expression: Speaker

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Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Nasheed has stated the administration of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih does not obstruct freedom of expression. He made the statement in response to a question at the fifth programme of the Ask Speaker series.

Speaking at the programme, Speaker Nasheed said he has not seen President Solih’s administration try to obstruct freedom of speech and expression, and does not believe there are efforts to do so. However, the speaker stated the constitution does not grant freedom of expression without limits and boundaries. He said these boundaries must be respected, especially when it could affect diplomatic relations established with other countries.

During the programme, Speaker Nasheed was also asked if he might contest in the presidential election next year as an independent candidate after leaving the main ruling party, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). In response to this question, the speaker said he hopes to remain at MDP till his last day and would definitely not be seen in another party. He said MDP has a vision for the future, and will seek ways to resolve internal conflicts and implement its development vision for the country.

During the programme, Speaker Nasheed answered questions on parliamentary work, as well as other political and social matters. The speaker highlighted the important work carried out by the parliament across the last two terms, including several important bills.

 

Source: psmnews

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Worsening weather causes seven incidents at sea

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The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) has revealed that seven incidents at sea have been reported due to the worsening weather in the Maldives.

The MNDF stated that the Coast Guard began a search after a passenger went missing after a boat named Cruiser was reportedly capsized on the evening of June 29. The missing person has since been found.

Additionally, the Coast Guard responded to a speedboat named Dengoo Launch, which was reportedly taking on water due to rough seas at 2015hrs near Thulhaagiri resort on June 29. The Coast Guard had controlled the situation and escorted the speedboat to a nearby Loabigili resort.

MNDF revealed that a speedboat named Lucky Star had also reported taking on water and that it was escorted to the harbour in Gaafaru, Kaafu Atoll. Two barges docked at the Maldives Ports Limited (MPL) area were also stopped after they began drifting to Funadhoo.

Furthermore, the Coast Guard responded to a speedboat that had run aground on a lagoon and transported the tourists onboard back to Reethi Rah resort. No one was injured in the incidents that occurred at sea on June 29. Authorities have instructed vessels to only travel after obtaining the latest information on the weather and taking the necessary safety precautions.

Source: psmnews

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President briefs cabinet on CHOGM 2022 success, deliberates on current affairs

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President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has convened his cabinet of ministers on June 28 to brief them about his successful visit to attend the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda, and to deliberate on the current state of affairs in the country. The meeting was held at the President’s Office.

CHOGM 2022 was the first such meeting since the Maldives’ re-accession to the alliance. The Maldives initially joined the Commonwealth of Nations on July 9, 1982, but withdrew membership on October 13, 2016. The Commonwealth accepted the Maldives’ application for re-admission on February 1, 2020, welcoming it as the 54th member and marking the fulfilment of one of President Solih’s administration’s inaugural pledges.

The CHOGM 2022 was themed around “Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming.” Held from June 20-25, CHOGM brought delegates from 54 nations who sought to strengthen multilateral cooperation, explore new opportunities, and address shared challenges facing future generations.

At the meeting, President Solih briefed the ministers on the findings of the cabinet subcommittee investigating the disruption of an event held at the National Stadium on June 21. The cabinet also discussed the latest updates on the COVID-19 pandemic and the recently announced “Gedhoruveriya” and “Binveriya” housing schemes.

 

Source: psmnews

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