Source Disclosure, Vigilante Justice, Minibus Conflict

Thursday, July 21

After the International Federation of Journalists and its local affiliate, the Maldives Journalists Association, condemned provisions in the new Evidence Act that allow courts to compel disclosure of sources, the government defended the landmark law and assured that it would “take no step that might harm or obstruct the freedom of the press.”

The constitution guarantees the right to protect sources of information but the new law introduces exceptions in cases involving acts of terrorism or offences related to national security. 

Thursday, July 21

Sheikh Fazloon Mohamed, a cleric who was arrested after protesters disrupted an International Yoga Day event on June 21, was released from custody. The religious scholar’s preaching license was also suspended, after he was accused of inciting the mob that stormed the national stadium.

The criminal court released Fazloon with conditions, his lawyer told the media. But the court extended the remand detention of Sheikh Adam Nishan, who had also spoken at the protest with Sheikh Fazloon. Of the 21 people arrested over the incident, six were released on Monday.

Ahmed Azaan, a journalist at the opposition-aligned Dhiyares News, was questioned by the police for allegedly leaking confidential medical information of top state officials. Azaan is accused of gaining unauthorised access to the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital’s patient portal. He denies any wrongdoing. Dhiyares reported a flaw in the IGMH portal that made sensitive information accessible, he said.

Fellow journalists and opposition supporters protested outside the police headquarters when Azaan was summoned.

‘Dhuburi’ Hassan Manik, founder of Alcyon bakery, passed away at the age of 80.

Wednesday, July 20

There were 190 marriages and 117 divorces in June, according to family court statistics.

Wednesday, July 20

Tuesday, July 19

A Bangladesh court ordered a reinvestigation into the death of Raudha Athif in March 2017.

The 20-year-old student was found hanged in her dorm room at the Islami Bank Medical College in Rajshahi. Her family alleged she was murdered by a fellow student. But the Bangladeshi police concluded that her death was by suicide and the Maldives police found “no suspicious circumstances”.

The court granted her father’s plea for a reinvestigation after he refused to accept reports and two autopsies by the Bangladeshi police.

Raudha became a social media sensation with a viral photograph known as the ‘Maldivian girl with aqua blue eyes.’ She had pursued modelling as a hobby and was featured on the October 2016 cover of Vogue India.

Tuesday, July 19

At a meeting with the public, the Malé City Council launched a special constabulary municipal service with the police, a security camera network for monitoring mosques and parks, and a digital portal for seeking permits, submitting applications and making payments online.

Mayor Dr Mohamed Muizzu also announced plans to develop a picnic area in Vilimalé with 10 day rooms, public toilets, open showers and a ramp for disabled persons to have water therapy.

During a Q&A session, arguments broke out over the government’s plans to award 3,000 plots of lands from the manmade islands of Hulhumalé and Gulhifalhu to registered residents of Malé, which has drawn criticism over the ineligibility of migrants to the capital, including about 1,400 people from other islands who are on a special municipal registry (dhaftharu). Debate has also been raging on social media over discrimination, equity and right to housing in relation to the Malé-Raajjethere divide .

The Prosecutor General’s office does not intend to review its decision not to press charges over the alleged gang rape of a 14-year-old girl on a Raa atoll island. The police filed the case after the PG office declined to prosecute citing insufficient evidence.

The victim has reportedly been transferred to a Malé school as a teacher from the island school was among the four alleged rapists. The family urged the authorities to review the case after a phone call recording that was recently leaked online suggested a cover-up effort by influential government officials.

All six students who earned this year’s presidential scholarships with the highest results in the GCE A-level examinations were female.

Monday, July 18

The police assured probes after a group of people from Dhiffushi severely beat up a man accused of raping a 14-year-old girl on the island during Eid holidays. A 22-year-old man from the vigilante group was arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer who tried to stop the violence. The group also attacked riot police officers who were later dispatched to control the unrest and damaged property at the Dhiffushi health centre, according to the police.

The police faced criticism over the lack of other arrests from the group who assaulted the suspect, which also prompted protests on his native island of Villingili in Gaaf Alif Atoll. The vigilante justice as well as the police officer’s assault and property damage are all under investigation, the police said.

The alleged rapist was reportedly brought to Malé for treatment at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital’s intensive care unit.

Monday, July 18

Sunday, July 17

Lack of cooperation from the Malé City Council is delaying the introduction of a minibus service in the congested capital, Maldives Transport and Contracting Company CEO Adam Azim told state media. The government has completed regulatory processes and other preparations but the council has yet to designate bus stops, he said.

But the council says it would be difficult to prohibit parking on Malé’s main roads as requested by the government without alternative arrangements.

MTCC’s fleet of 36 minibuses arrived at the Malé port last week. The company plans to introduce the minibus service in other populous islands as well. The 20 to 25-seater electric vehicles will arrive at bus stops in Malé every 10 minutes, Azim told the press.

Sunday, July 17

The president ratified amendments brought to the Judicature Act with provisions for dissolving the northern and southern branches of the High Court and extending the punishment for contempt of court to three months in jail or house arrest. The punishment was previously a maximum 15-day imprisonment or house arrest for one month.

Courts are also authorised to impose a fine of MVR10,000 (US$648) for contempt, which includes disruptive behaviour or obscene language during hearings.

The ADK hospital successfully performed the first ever endovascular aneurysm repair in Maldives, a “new life-saving minimally-invasive cardio-vascular procedure”.