Maldives’ State of Insanity III: to be rid of

The Maldives’ ‘State of Emergency’ is fast becoming a distant memory. France, tragically, had reason to declare a real one on 13 November. It opened the eyes of many to the circus that Yameen called a State of Emergency in Maldives. Others, however, saw the Parisian calamity as a chance to ‘mock’ MDP opposition which—in an inspired move—ridiculed the Gayooms’ state of ‘calm and normal emergency’ by inviting everyone to a tea-party. The Mad Hatters didn’t get the memo, and have never got the joke. Hence the following response to the Paris attacks from MP Dr Abdullah Khaleel, ‘the most educated man in the Majlis’:

*Kullikalhu [Sudden/Emergency BlackTea] is the name MDP gave to its tea party

The sniper who wasn’t

A few other things of note happened during the State of Insanity which weren’t discussed in Part II. One of them is the Sri Lankan saga. In October, shortly after the alleged assassination attempt on Yameen on 28 September, the Maldives government arrested a Sri Lankan man, Lahiru Madhusanka, in connection with an alleged plot to kill Yameen. Mr Madhusanka was, according to the Yameen government, a sniper. This is at the height of Yameen’s paranoia, when everyone was out to get him. Turned out Mr Madhusanka was more interested in snappers than he was in being a sniper—he is, according to the Sri Lankan authorities, a dried fish seller. Sri Lanka has long had a love affair with Maldivian dried fish which they call umbalakada. All poor Madhusanka wanted was to supply umbalakada to Sri Lankans who love it passionately as a great delicacy. Instead, he is in prison, suspected of trying to kill a president. Maldives also, falsely according to Sri Lanka, claimed Madhusanka is an ex-army man, managing to offend not just the government, but also the army in one single move. Madhusanka’s treatment was not the only thing fishy about Maldives’ relations with Sri Lanka during this period. The country’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Zahiya Zareer, was summoned to a dressing down at the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry after it emerged that Maldives had acted against Sri Lankan laws in arresting and removing from the country Maldivian citizen Ahmed Ashraf, a.k.a Shumba Gong.

Shumba the Social Media Lion/King

A little backstory on Shumba is worthwhile. Shumba was a ‘social media king’, a boy-monarch who ascended to the throne shortly after the February 2012 coup, while he was only about 15. From his room in Sri Lanka he campaigned tirelessly on Twitter for the beleaguered Maldivian democracy, gathering tens of thousands of followers. His volumnous output contributed to MDP’s activism, that is, until Adeeb staged a takeover and acquired Shumba as an asset for the Yameen regime. [How much Adeeb paid for Shumba is not yet known.] Once Adeeb acquired Shumba, he was as fierce in attacking MDP as he had been defending it. Most people would have forgiven Shumba for his ‘defection’—after all he was only a young boy preyed on by people using him to their own advantage—if not for the callousness he displayed in talking about Ahmed Rilwan’s abduction. Shumba made many claims about Rilwan’s fate that were horrendous and painful to see and hear. People’s sympathy for him ran out quickly. He continued on the path paved for him by Adeeb’s money nonetheless. And, when everyone else Adeeb bought were abandoning him in their hundreds, Shumba stayed put, defending Adeeb and live Tweeting his own arrest until his hands were cuffed. Shumba was taken by the Sri Lankan police, duped into doing so by the Maldivian government which claims Shumba was in Sri Lanka illegally. Even if he was, no due process was followed: police entered his house, took him, and handed him over to the Maldivian authorities who then removed him from Sri Lanka and transferred him straight into prison.

Like the man who acquired him as a social media bot, Shumba has not been seen since. Just past his eighteenth birthday, Shumba the Lion is in prison for roaring his support for Adeeb in defiance of the president’s unspoken, but loudly heard, edict that in today’s Maldives there is no bigger crime than liking Adeeb more than one likes Yameen.

Zahiya’s Sri Lankan dressing down

So the Sri Lankan foreign ministry summoned Maldives High Commisioner to Sri Lanka, Zahiya Zareer, for a dressing down. ‘Zahiya Miss’ was once an inspiration. She taught thousands of women like me to love the English language; and, generally tried to make decent well-behaved women out of the many unruly girls who spent a good part of their lives in Aminiya School. These days, however, Zahiya is better known for spending her time playing cards with senior members of PPM, and wasting years of teaching excellence trying to cover up, and mop up after, the many lies of the Maldives foreign minister.

The Sri Lankan foreign ministry did not just give her a dressing down, they stripped her naked in diplomatic terms, issuing a public statement that expressed horror at how Maldives had abused years of good bilateral relations and embroiled their security forces in high drama aimed at nothing other than protecting Yameen’s rule. The statement made Sri Lanka the first country in the neighbourhood to openly censure Yameen’s shenanigans and authoritarian crackdown on dissent.

Clearly India is not really all that interested in democracy in the Maldives. It chose ‘stability’ over democracy in 2012, and is continuing with the same policy under the current government. It is hard to say whether Sushma Swaraj is buying her Maldivian counterpart Dunya Maumoon’s many lies. Take, for instance, the whopper she told Ms Swaraj on Monday while in Delhi to ‘apprise her personally’ of the Gayooms’ carry on during and since the State of Insanity. For Dunya, ‘personally apprising’ means putting a very personal spin on reality. The van allegedly found outside Mulee Aage with a ‘suspected device’ on it thus became a petroleum truck with two sticks of dynamite. By the time Dunya completes her personalisation of the facts, the police may turn out to have caught a Sri Lankan man with a backpack full of dried fish and a fistful of matches about to light the sticks of dynamite and blow Yameen up to high heavens.

By the way, India is making a huge foreign policy mistake ignoring facts on the ground in Maldives. This autocracy is not going to result in stability for the Maldives because people will not stop agitating for democracy. And, it is an autocracy that has a pact with the Saudi Kingdom to allow the uninterrupted spread of Wahhabism until it is not just the dominant, but the only, ideology Maldivians accept as ‘true Islam’. Surely this is not the neighbourhood India fancies for itself?

The impending murder of Adeeb

As the grand finale to the long-lasting effects of the short-lived ‘State of Emergency’, the Yameen government is going to impose capital punishment on Ahmed Adeeb. The government has, in its record MVR 27 billion plus budget–passed by the PPM majority in Majlis without so much as a glance at the opposition’s many valid objections–has set aside millions to end the moratarium on the death penalty. Around MVR4 million has been budgeted for the process, building a state of the art execution chamber, and also to build new solitary confinement units (and quite possibly acquiring waterboarding equipment and refresher courses for Police on methods of the Spanish inquisitors too).

Home Minister Umar Naseer, a.k.a Umarnator, is rubbing his hands in glee. He has said he is waiting for the opportunity to implement the death penalty, because it is what God wants us to do. Umar would fit right in with the Islamic State. Sadly for us, he wants to stay put in Male’, and have his own little IS Caliphate at home. With each passing day Adeeb is looking more and more likely to be Yameen’s first legal execution.

Under a new rule by the Supreme Court, anyone representing Adeeb will be barred from practising law. Many of Adeeb’s lawyers immediately abandoned their client (and the law) to get into bed with the Supreme Court Justices faster than you can say Tanya. Few, including Hussein Shameem, however, have stuck with his client. Shameem has warned everyone the State is going after Adeeb with a lethal injection. There is no denying Adeeb’s corruption, his lavish lifestyle and access to endless cash before he fell out of favour with Yameen bears evidence to this. And, despite all the claims that Yameen and his cronies have made about an assassination plot, there has been no evidence—or charges brought—against Adeeb or any of his associates in relation to those claims.

It’s all about money, the millions of US dollars gone missing from the MMPRC under Adeeb’s watch. Over 70 islands have been sold/rented to investors and there’s no trace of the millions paid for over 40 of those 70 islands. Yameen is angry, not because the money has been stolen from the people—that is routine, everyday business for this government. The purpose of its existence, to be more precise. No, the problem is Yameen doesn’t know where the money went. As far as he is concerned, it has been robbed from him personally. That is a crime; the crime. Protecting Yameen, the Gayooms, and their interests is what the entire state apparatus is devoted to.

What must not be forgotten as the state gets ready to kill the president’s ‘fondest VP’ are these facts: the judiciary is a tool of the government; Adeeb has been wrongfully imprisoned by the State; and, he is being denied legal representation and all due process. If we stand by and let the State—or Yameen acting as the State—murder Adeeb, we will all have blood on our hands.

The crime of prayer

To those who believe in the power of prayer, I would say #PrayForAdeeb, but that could land me in prison for incitement to hatred or for encouraging criminal activity. Yameen, who has had visions of people coming after him with all kinds of arms and ammunition—sniper guns, snappers, bombs, sticks of dynamite, biological and chemical weapons—is now seeing prayer as the biggest WMD of them all. Every Friday, MDP members pray for Nasheed—held in arbitrary detention in inhumane conditions by the Yameen government since xxx this year. Yameen thinks praying for good things to happen to Nasheed automatically means wishing for bad things to happen to him. As if God has a finite amount of goodwill that can only extend to Yameen OR Nasheed, not to both. So Yameen, a ventriloquist talking through the puppet he recently installed in the Islamic Ministry, warned people to stop praying ‘or else’. MDP members decided to test out the ‘or else’, which turned out to be jail for the man who led the prayers last Friday.

Perhaps Yameen should arrange for an emergency meeting of the Majlis to pass a law that says anyone who attempts to go to heaven without Yameen’s prior approval should be jailed. Also, while they are at it, add a clause stipulating hell for anyone who disobeys Yameen. Majority of Majlis members would be happy to do it. Those Jariyaas will rubber stamp anything for money, as MP Eva Abdulla recently said so eloquently.

To be rid of it all #Minjuvaan

Killing someone for something they may not have done is not a thing that gives much pause for thought among the jesters of Yameen’s court. For them, the biggest cloud looming on the horizon is MDP’s nationwide protest scheduled for this Friday. People agitating for their rights, now that is chaos. Not the terrorising of an entire population with reports of fake bombs. Not the loss of millions of dollars in terrorism revenue due to the imposition of a State of Emergency in which everything was calm and normal. Not the fear in which people live, terrified their privacy, their freedom, and even their lives, could be taken at any moment, arbitrarily, whenever the state wishes. That is all okay, that is ‘stability’, imposed by the Gayooms (and approved by democracies like India). Go out on the street and demand the government, which claims to be for the people by the people, to be accountable to the people and the Constitution—that is uncouth, un-Islamic, ugly, and a threat to national security. That is what must be stopped at all costs.

Maldivian people had ‘peace and stability’ imposed on them at the expense of their freedoms for thirty years. They rejected it. More than half still do. Such ‘peace’ is not worth it. It must be gotten rid of. Yameen’s state of insanity may be permanent, but the subjection of Maldivians to it must end.

    Maldives: State of Insanity II

    rusted pistol

    Azra Naseem

    One thing certain about this Yageen government is that everything is uncertain. You can rely on nothing. What is promised rarely appears, and what appears rarely lasts. The State of Emergency turned to be as transient as a senior cabinet minister in Yameen’s government. It was boldly arrived at, emphatically announced for 30 days, but was timidly gone in four. What has to be written now instead of a developing story is history.

    Last ‘chapter’ ended with Yameen’s 45 minute tirade absolving himself of all blame and placing it all squarely on the rounded shoulders of his ‘fondest VP’. Shortly after, things began to spin out of control. It was as if the president was on a bad acid trip he could not escape. Everyone was out to get him. Snipers, bombers, witches, soothsayers, sharp shooters…they were all coming at him. When a president with an army at his command and an armoury at his disposal has a bad trip or an episode of intense paranoia, the consequences can be markedly different from when an ordinary person has such experiences. Everyone is forced to live the President’s nightmare. So here’s what happened next.

    Forensic Hocus Pocus

    The Investigation into the Finifenmaa Blast was going full-steam ahead under the esteemed leadership of Home Minister Umar Naseer and his stellar detection techniques acquired in 1992 and never updated since. On 31 October, however, it hit a roadblock when the Wall Street Journal, or Wall Street as Umar would have it, published a story saying the FBI had found no conclusive evidence to prove the explosion was caused by a bomb. Umar quickly convened a press conference the morning after, telling local reporters neither the FBI, nor any forensic teams by their nature, ever publish any conclusive findings. What Maldives had sought from the scientists they invited to examine the boat blast was their opinion. Looking for forensic evidence, the eminent Top Detective of the Maldive Islands explained, is like “looking for the new moon ahead of Eid. The moon maybe sighted on [the island of] Washafaru, but not on Kelaa. That does not mean the moon does not exist.”

    The FBI did not find evidence of a bomb, but Saudis found traces of the RDX chemical from samples they took from the boat. Saudis took six samples, Americans took 10. Amazingly, it was Saudis with their six samples who actually found the RDX traces. Who would you believe, said implicit subtitles: ‘your Muslim Saudi brothers, or the FBI?’ Besides, the Americans had been unable to do with ten samples what the Saudi were able were to do with six. Not long after, PPM Twitter accounts were busy accusing the FBI—not the CIA or White House or anyone else—of manufacturing evidence of WMD in Iraq. Around the same time, Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon, who often mixes the domestic and the foreign, instructed obedient PPM citizens to believe the version provided by the Maldives Police Service (MPS), as any patriotic Maldivian would do.

    Thing is, forensic evidence, modern detective work, science—these are not concepts the Yameen government has been too keen to embrace. The Supernatural has always figured prominently in Maldivian life, and Political Psychics have been walking Maldivian corridors of power with the Gayooms since 1978. It is said Yameen has  at least one Presidential Psychic himself. All the uprooting of trees, moving of prominent national monuments, and digging the ground from under landmark buildings that happened in the mid-2015 were all to find a curse against Yameen said to have been buried somewhere by a political enemy.

    Yameen said in his post-blast address to the nation on 25 October 2015 that he had stopped receiving intelligence reports from Maldives Police Service in July 2015. This does not have seem to have raised any alarms with him for three months. A likely explanation is that for him, the real intelligence is in reports from the psychics. Police intelligence reports were no good for another reason—the police were hugely corrupt, and had been taking bribes from the MMPRC under Adeeb’s control. The Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed was growing visibly fat from eating too many chicken curries on his campaign trips around the islands and from the extra cash the President implied Adeeb was giving him. To show just how little tolerance Yameen has for corruption in his government he removed Hussein Waheed from the police service. And made him a State Minister.

    Peekaboo with guns and bombs

    Wherever the ‘intelligence’ was coming from, it was making the Maldives government and security forces do very unintelligent things. After several nights of raiding houses and islands, the MPS and MNDF invited journalists on board a vessel near Male’ to show them a weapons haul which had been discovered buried 42 metre underwater just outside the reefs surrounding the island of Hibalhidhoo. The weapons were indeed many – “an entire AK series”. Curiously, many were wrapped in brown paper bags which were to be ‘opened in the presence of the media’. As everyone knows, this is a very transparent government, and it keeps its citizens fully briefed.

    Nature interrupted, however. Rain fell, the paper bags—which were said to contain guns—were soaking. For some reason, a shelter could not be arranged for the vessel, so off went the security forces to another location, carrying the guns with them under police escort and a loud siren. Oh, it was a spectacle! Later pictures showed the guns, and the ammunition, to be badly rusted, suggesting they had been underwater long before the blast occurred just a month before. It was revealed the weapons came from the MNDF armoury. Still, the hunt was on for someone to blame other than the security forces, the people in charge of the armoury, or the Commander in Chief under whose watch all these alleged security lapses were happening.

    The first bomb, or ‘suspected device’ as Umar described it, caused quite a stir. Especially the response to its alleged presence. It was said to have been found in a vehicle parked near, Mulee Aage the official residence which the president refused to move into. The manner of Maldives security forces response to the presence of the ‘suspected device’ was extraordinary. Men in riot gear picked up the live bomb, put it into a vehicle, and travelled right through the most congested city in the world to a more suitable location where the bomb was to be defused while the media looked on. After midnight it was taken elsewhere and not heard of again until on 8 November when an ‘unnamed source’ strategically ‘leaked’ a story to the media that the MNDF had carried out a ‘controlled explosion of the bomb’ near the MNDF training island. No pictures, videos or any evidence at all exists of this alleged activity. Bling faith is a required to believe the government. Fortunately for Yameen, it is one thing PPM supporters have an endless supply of.

    Addressing the people of an island shortly after the bomb was discovered,  Home Minister Umar had described the ‘suspected device’ as a bomb made from sticks of dynamite capable of going up in a ball of flames, 60ft in diameter. It would have been powerful enough to destroy great mountain ranges, said Umar. Yet its ‘controlled explosion’ barely caused a ripple in the water. Or had it been defused first, as the spectacle from the night before implied? Was it defused then exploded? Who knows? Certainly not the public.

    Once MDP agreed to postpone the nationwide demonstrations it had planned for 6 November to highlight the unlawful continued detention of former President Mohamed Nasheed, the bombs discreetly bowed out of centre stage. Also, their presence, and the declaration of emergency which is said to have been necessitated by their presence was having a rather nasty impact on tourist arrivals. Sadly for the Foreign Minister, her many assurances that the threat from the bombs applied only to locals—sincere and clearly put as they were—did not quite convince tourists the bombs were smart enough to discriminate between foreigners and Maldivians.

    Gone in three months


    Adeeb, the man whose gravity-defying meteoric rise everyone was left to watch in awe, disappeared from view as suddenly as he appeared. The last any member of the public saw of him was when he left for that investment forum in China to which no one came. He was bundled into a boat straight from the airport and taken to Dhoonidhoo where he is beginning to tread a similar No Man’s Land as the hundreds of ‘Enemy Combatants’ who spent years in legal limbo in the United States’ Guantanamo Bay. There are no confirmed reports yet of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques used on The Bro, as Adeeb’s admirers call him with their cash-bought affection. Not even proof that almost all Bro’s supporters (bar two or three) had abandoned him faster than they could say hundred dollars was sufficient for the government to allow Adeeb to be seen publicly. No person has been this carefully hidden and closely guarded in Maldives since Dhon Hiyala, a mythological woman of such perfection her father kept her in an underground palace to protect her from the many who would fall under her spell at first sight.

    Majlis members, many of whom made it known they were under Adeeb’s spell–the magic wand being his wallet–were protected from his charms by executive order which deprived him of his constitutional right to respond to the charges against him before impeachment. The Majlis Speaker, a mouthpiece for Yameen’s instructions, said Adeeb had ‘failed to appear’ for the rushed, and for that reason among others, unconstitutional hearing. Never mind that Adeeb is locked up in a small cell on an island separated by the Indian Ocean from where the Majlis was sitting. The only salient point for the PPM ‘Members of Parliament’ was that he was not there. On that basis the 61 of them put their hands up — many of them for the price of thousands of dollars —and removed Adeeb from the position of VP. C’est la vie, fuck due process.

    All matters Adeeb are being treated as extra-legal. Not that anything legal is legal in the Maldives where an independent judiciary does not exist. Until now, all Adeeb’s court appearances have been via video conference, and now a special court room of the Criminal Court is being constructed in the prison—you heard that right—to conduct the ‘trial’ against him. What he is accused of is not quite clear. It began with high treason, a crime which does not exist; and has since moved on terrorism, and embezzlement. It may become sorcery tomorrow.

    Adeeb also has no legal representation, at least not one recognised by the judiciary of the Maldives. Shameem, an expert in the newly introduced Penal Code (and a background not just in Common Law but that all important Shari’a) was counted among the cream of legal crop–until he accepted the job as Adeeb’s lawyer. Ahead of Adeeb’s impeachment, he was summoned to the Supreme Court ‘in relation to an ongoing investigation.’ That afternoon, Shameem, who was not in Male’ and could not respond to the summons, was disbarred. Just like that. Now Adeeb has no recognised lawyer but that is, no doubt the oh-so-clever Maldivian authorities would say, no fault of theirs.

    Reports are now surfacing that Justice Ali Hameed—yes that Ali Hameed of the sex video and the most famous Y-fronts since Homer Simpson—is now in the cross-hairs of Yameen’s ever-cocked gun. Ali Hameed goes where the money is. And it is said Hameed has been purchased for Adeeb. Whatever the lower courts find him guilty of, Ali Hameed will work to overrule through the Supreme Court. Police have, it seems, re-opened their closed investigation into whether or not the very fat man seen in a secretly filmed video having sex with three prostitutes over a prolonged period of time in a hotel in Colombo is just any other fat man or Justice Ali Hameed of the Maldives Supreme Court. The answer will depend on how much money Adeeb has given Hameed (and the police?).

    To be continued, in part III.

      The Rule of Fear in the Republic


      by Mushfique Mohamed

      The newly ratified Maldivian anti-terror law is designed to systematically derogate and restrict most crucial civil and political rights in a highly repressed country. The Act renders the Maldives’ first democratic Constitution to what it has been deduced to – a fig leaf to historicise continued authoritarianism. Anyone in the country could have his or her enjoyment of human rights set back to dictatorship-era standards, to an extent that will make you question whether Maldives ever transitioned from it. The 1990 anti-terror law, repealed through this Act, was enacted to prosecute Abdullah Luthufi and armed mercenaries from the People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), alleged to have perpetrated a coup d’état against the dictatorship*.

      The manufactured political drama revolving around the boat blast on 28 September may be shocking, with its plot twists and emotive monologues. But because of dramatic irony, the storyline is very clear to us: this is your average tyrant purging his enemies. The explosive speedboat saga is a page turning ‘story within a story’, however, the ‘play’ has a more universal tone that stems from the human need to be free from unequal and undignified treatment. In that regard, the Maldivian antagonists have changed very little from its feudal, coup-mongering, violent predecessors.

      The new anti-terror law is anything but that, it is an instrument with which the public could be terrorised. It revives the ability for political actors to legitimise abuse of power, a cause for concern given the frequency of political unrest and repression in Maldives’ past and present. The law contains vague terms, such as “undue influence against the government” and “unlawful promotion of a particular political, religious or other ideology”, unfound in the law’s interpretation provisions, however defined as terrorism, in addition to “creation of fear among the public or within a specific group.” It is no coincidence that the definition of terrorism does not explicitly include violent extremism, or religious extremism – the most prevalent type of terrorism today. It makes it clear that the regime’s efforts to counter violent extremism are insincere.

      When the bill was sent to parliament, opposition parliamentarians highlighted the lack of provisions regarding terrorism financing and Maldivian citizens joining foreign terrorist organisations. The former head of intelligence Mohamed Hameed criticised the Act in an op-ed on Maldives Independent before the Act was ratified, arguing that it fails to focus on terrorism-related concerns that are endemic to the Maldives such as terrorist recruitment and violent jihad. Hameed claimed that “comprehensive reforms and measures such as public awareness, early intervention and rehabilitation programmes to combat extremism must be put in place, along with or before the passage of this bill.” He went on to say that the government must look at the “comprehensive picture on the problem of religious extremism” and introduce a “cross-government strategy to tackle it,” while acknowledging increasing religious extremism “as a very first step.”

      Former Deputy Prosecutor General and UNDP’s expert on the 2014 penal code, Hussein Shameem claimed in his commentary that all the offences mentioned in this Act – some 19 offences – have already been mentioned in the new Penal Code. Shameem pointed out that the Act does not criminalise certain “inchoate offences,” which are addressed under the Penal Code 2014. “As it is written in this Act, attempting or planning to initiate training to commit an act of terrorism, or planning to leave to fight in a foreign war are not considered criminal offences,” he said.

      In order to limit executive influence on how terrorist groups are defined, modern anti-terrorism laws contain a parliamentary approved list of proscribed organisations. While the Act heavily mentions “terrorist groups”, it does not include an annex of groups that the government considers to be tied to terrorism. Instead the president has the power to proscribe organisations.[1] Apart from the president, the judiciary – an institution in which 51% of the public does not have confidence – is given discretionary powers to decide whether literature promotes terrorism.[2]

      For instance, a statement given during investigation could be used as documentary evidence in court.[3] It is a practice thought to have ended with the new Constitution, which requires judges to rule based on witness testimonies rather than investigative statements. The Act inscribes anti-democratic actions that have been taking place in spite of democratisation efforts. In violation of international human rights law and constitutional protections against pre-trial detention, the Act enables offenders to be held in remand until completion of the trial.[4] The presumption of innocence before proven guilty is watered-down to the regime’s official line – guilty as charged, even prior to prosecution.[5] A person who was acquitted could be discriminated against, simply for being previously accused of any crime. The concern here is not absconding trial, but the existence of unproven guilt, which should not be up for consideration at a forum that claims to administer justice.

      Constitutional protections such as the right to remain silent, the entitlement to be released from pre-trial detention and the right to legal assistance of one’s own choosing are derogated. The use of these narrowed down rights can be used against the accused, but its probative value during trial is unstipulated.[6] The evidentiary standards are lowered for the purposes of this law in the following manner.[7] A confession made during investigation can be considered as evidence in a court of law. The right to a lawyer can be withheld if one is not appointed within six hours of detention, and client-attorney privileged correspondence can also be adduced to prove guilt of terrorism offences. In most circumstances, dying declarations would be considered hearsay, however this law considers it as evidence if such a declaration indicates guilt of an individual.

      The Maldivian judiciary, known to suspend lawyers and sentence people in absentia can now issue monitoring and controlling orders in the same manner if the Home Minister requests.[8] The procedure known as “monicon,” found in Chapter Four of the Act can be initiated pursuant to a High Court order authorising monitoring of terror suspects. Electronic devices such as mobile phones and laptops can be monitored, intercepted and recorded using the monicon order.[9] Additionally, police can enter an address unspecified in a court order if a suspect is known to be in it,[10] they can take photos inside private property,[11] restrict movement[12], and acquire information about your home and who you share it with.[13] All of this might not be alarming to many Maldivians because these opaque actions are realities that wax and wane depending on the regime’s whims. But now, if you are a suspect – using the controversial order – the Home Minister can electronically tag[14] and “rehabilitate” you,[15] even if you are below 18 years of age.[16]

      The assumption of powers by the executive is inconsistent with terrorism-related concerns of the country, and the timing of the enactment is ominous. In March this year, the regime imprisoned former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Defence Ministers Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu and Mohamed Nazim using the anti-terror law enacted during the 30-year dictatorship. Although this anti-terror has new legal language and powers, it is resonant of a newer version of the old anti-terrorism law. Similar to the old law, little importance is given to the definition of violent extremism, making the Act’s objectives uncertain. The draconian legislation allows executive to usurp the counter-terrorism mandate, introducing reinvented Orwellian methods to strengthen grip on power. If seen through the lens of the 47-year old republic’s history, the anti-terror law is an authoritarian intervention to the rule of law, rather than a genuine effort to counter terrorism.

      [1] Article 18 (a) of the Anti-Terror Act 2015

      [2] Article 9(b) of the Anti-Terrorism Act 2015

      [3] Article 29(a), number 3 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 2015

      [4] Article 26 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 2015

      [5] Article 26 (b) of the Anti Terrorism Act 2015

      [6] Articles 21 to 24 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 2015

      [7] Article 27 of the Act lists types of evidence that can be adduced.

      [8] Article 35(b)

      [9] Article 50

      [10] Article 54(c)

      [11] Article 59(b)

      [12] Article 47

      [13] Article 46(a)2

      [14] Article 53(a)

      [15] Article 52

      [16] Article 45

      Author’s Clarification (Added on 16 November 2015)

      *The anti-terror law enacted in December 1990 during the dictatorship of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – brother of Abdullah Yameen Abdul Gayoom – was drafted in response to Sangu, a newspaper critical of the regime that was banned in June 1990. The regime retrospectively prosecuted Nasheed under the Anti Terrorism Act 1990 for an article he wrote about corruption, published earlier that year, by “Sangu” and “The Island;” a Sri Lankan newspaper. Nasheed was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment on 8 April 1992, but released in June 1993. The alleged coup-makers Abdullah Luthfee and the Tamil mercenaries were prosecuted under the old penal code prior to the 1990 anti-terror law.

      About the author: Mushfique Mohamed is a practising lawyer at Hisaan, Riffath & Co., and also works as a consultant for Maldivian Democracy Network.