South Asians for Human Rights

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Attorney General Mohamed Anil reads out the declaration of emergency to journalists at the President's Office Wednesday afternoon.
Attorney General Mohamed Anil reads out the declaration of emergency to journalists at the President’s Office Wednesday afternoon.

Maldives declared a month-long state of emergency Wednesday in what has been extraordinary security measures following an explosion on a speedboat carrying the president and subsequent discovery of an arms haul.

In the declaration of emergency, which was read out to journalists at the President’s Office by Attorney General Mohamed Anil, President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom said he had reached the decision after consultations with his national security council. Several explosive devices have been discovered in two separate operations carried out by the army and there is credible intelligence of an imminent attack using explosives and weapons, he added.

Such an attack would endanger the lives of the public, the president said.

Under the state of emergency in effect nationwide, articles 19, 24, 31, 32, 41(a), 45 and 47 of the constitution have been suspended.

Article 19 deals with freedom from restraint. It states that a citizen is free to engage in any conduct or activity that is not expressly prohibited by Islamic Shari’ah or by law. According to the article, no control or restraint may be exercised against any person unless it is expressly authorised by law.

Article 24 relates to personal privacy. It states that everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his private communications. Every person, according to the article, must respect these rights with respect to others.

Article 31 grants workers the right to strike. It stipulates that every person employed in the Maldives and all other workers have the freedom to stop work and to strike in order to protest.

Article 32 empowers the citizens with the right to assemble freely. It states that everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly without prior permission of the state.

Article 41(a) deals with freedom of movement and establishment. It states that every citizen has the freedom to enter, remain in and leave the Maldives, and to travel within the Maldives.

Article 45 protects the citizens from unlawful arrest or detention. It states that everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained, arrested or imprisoned except as provided by law.

Article 47 relates to search and seizure. Clause (a) of the article states that no person shall be subject to search or seizure unless there is reasonable cause, while clause (b) stipulates that residential property shall be inviolable, and shall not be entered without the consent of the resident, except to prevent immediate and serious harm to life or property, or under the express authorisation of an order of the court.

In addition, the Freedom of Assembly Act has also been suspended.

The move comes at a time the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) is gearing up for a mass protest on Friday.

MDP made the announcement last month for the mass protest calling for the release of former president Mohamed Nasheed and political detainees, with participation from atoll residents all over the nation.

Police had asked the party to rethink holding the protest.

After reading out the declaration of emergency, Attorney General Anil told reporters that all the explosive devices related to the explosion on the presidential speedboat in September had not been found yet. Credible intelligence indicates that some people are trying to use those devices, he added.

The attorney general went on to quell concerns that fundamental constitutional rights could be infringed during the state of emergency, saying that any right would be suspended as per Article 255 of the constitution. The government, he assured, would not restrict any rights unless absolutely necessary.

“During the state of emergency, the security forces will try as much as possible to not obstruct the normal, daily lives of the people. Instead, they will ensure the safety and security of the public,” the attorney general said.

“In addition, I would like to highlight that no curfew has been enforced. Any suspect would be taken into custody according to the constitution and the relevant laws and anyone detained would given their rights.”

Article 255 outlines the limitations of the declaration of state of emergency. According to the article, measures adopted in an emergency shall not restrict these rights: right to life, no slavery or forced labour, freedom of expression, freedom of the media, fair and transparent hearings, rights on arrest or detention, rights of the accused, confessions and illegal evidence, assistance of legal counsel, no degrading treatment or torture, no imprisonment for nonfulfilment of contractual obligation, humane treatment of arrested or detained persons, retrospective legislation, prohibition of double jeopardy, retention of other rights) and non-compliance with unlawful orders.

The declaration of emergency comes a day after security forces discovered an explosive device near the presidential palace.

Maldives military had confirmed that the suspected device found in a vehicle parked near the presidential residence of Muliaage in capital Male was an improvised explosive device which had been subsequently been diffused.

The discovery of the IED came just over a month after an explosion aboard the presidential speedboat carrying President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom now confirmed as an attempt to kill the president.

President Yameen was unhurt but his spouse and two others were hurt in the explosion.

The primary suspect in the blast appears to be Vice President Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor who was arrested on October 24 as soon as he arrived from an official trip to China.

He is accused of high treason, a charge he denies.

The government has intensified its crackdown on the vice president and his associates.

Before and since the vice president’s arrest, police jointly with armed soldiers have been carrying out raids across capital Male. Most of the houses and offices searched so far had direct links to the vice president.

Meanwhile, security forces are finding weapons in a number of raids across the country.

The army confirmed Saturday that two assault rifles found in the biggest weapons bust in Maldives’ recent history belonged to the state armoury.

The items showcased during a press conference earlier Saturday included several hand guns, a T56 assault rifle and a MP5 sub-machine gun. In addition, a large quantity of bomb making material were also displayed at the press briefing.

The weapons had been seized from Hibilhadhoo island in Baa Atoll being developed as a resort.

Updated On: Nov 04, 2015