Jumhooree party

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Statement by Jumhooree Party on the siege of Party Headquarters and the politically motivated trials and actions against the party leadership

 

Ref: PR -2017-07-019

 

PRESS RELEASE

Statement by Jumhooree Party on the siege of Party Headquarters and the politically motivated trials and actions against the party leadership

The Seige of Jumhooree Party Headquarters

On 25th July 2017 at 8.50pm the Maldives Police Service entered the Headquarters of Jumhooree Party in Male’ with a search warrant from the Criminal Court signed by Judge Adam Arif to look for evidence relating to what the warrant called ‘illegal gatherings’ held by the political parties of the Joint Opposition including Jumhooree Party, the Maldivian Democratic Party and ‘some others’,who were not specified. The warrant allowed the Police to search the premises of Jumhooree Party Headquarters for aduration of 72 hours.

The Police, consisting of about 15 officers of the Special Operations Unit (SO) carried out the search for over 5 hours ending it at 1.30am on 26th July 2017. Upon completing the search the officer in charge of the operation signed and handed over a Search Completion Form to the Secretary General of the Party who was present during the search. The Form stated that the Police had not found any evidence relating to the allegations.

According Article 32(a)No. 9, of the Maldives Penal Code, unless otherwise stated in the search warrant, a search warrant is valid only for a single entry into the search premises. Once the Search Completion Form is handed over to the person in charge of the premises, that warrant loses its legality and no further searches can be carried out under the same warrant. If the search is to be continued, a new warrant must be obtained. The warrant produced by the Police did not state that it is valid for multiple entry in to the search premises.

However, the next morning (the 26th of July 2017), the Maldives Police Service arrived at the Party Headquarters and demanded permission to enter the premises on the basis of the same search warrant. The Secretary General of Jumhooree Party refused to open the Office until they came back with a newsearch warrant which has not been served previously. The Police then prohibited any one from entering Party Headquarters and stood guard at the gates and laid siege of the Office.

The same night (26th July 2017) the Secretary General was summoned to Police Headquarters accusing him of obstructing the official duties of the Police and for refusing to implement the search warrant. The Secretary General explained that he was willing to extend his full cooperation to the Police once they produced a valid search warrant, and he signed a statement to that effect.

The Police finally allowed the Secretary General to open the Office on 28th July 2017.

These events clearly demonstrate the intention of the Government to obstruct the legitimate work carried out by a registered political party. This is part of an ongoing series of events aimed at blocking the work of Jumhooree Party. The Elections Commission had previously instructed the Party to stop using its registered logo and seal beginning from the 1st of June 2017. The matter was taken to court by the Party but to date no hearings have been held, despite being urged by the Party to expedite the case in order to enable the Party to carry out its work. The Party has also requested the High Court for a temporary stay order but has not received a response to date.As a result the Party is currently forced to use blank letterheads in its correspondences.

The political trial of Jumhooree Party Leader,MP Hon. Qasim Ibrahim

On 10th July 2017 the Criminal Court dismissed the cases filed by the State against Hon. Qasim Ibrahim because the prosecutors failed to turn up at the final hearing. The panel of three Judges including Chief Judge Abdul BareeYoosuf, Judge Ahmed Shakeel and Judge Adam Arif, unanimously ruled to dismiss the case due to the ‘deliberate failure of the prosecutors to attend the hearing despite repeatedly reminders’. The next day however, the State filed the same cases against Hon. Qasim. His lawyers believe that once a case is dismissed the same case cannot be filed again against the same person. Moreover, following the dismissal of the cases against the lawmaker, the Judicial Service Commission had, without explanation or investigation, transferred two out of the three judges on the panel (Chief Judge Abdul BareeYoosuf and Judge Ahmed Shakeel)to other courts.

The cases were resubmitted on 11th July 2017. The first hearing was held the same day. The next hearing was scheduled for the following day but since that was the weekend, it was rescheduled for the 16th of July 2017. However, due to a cardiac condition he suddenly developed Hon. Qasim was hospitalized that day. Despite doctor’s requests, the Government refused to allow him to travel abroad for emergency medical treatment and tests. For the next 7 days Hon. Qasim was treated at the ICU in ADK Hospital in Male’. Since there was nothing further the doctors could do to alleviate his condition, he requested to be transferred home on 23rd July 2017. The same afternoon the Court scheduled a hearing. However, upon seeing Hon. Qasim’s health condition the Judges decided to give a break in the trial till his health improved. He is still not permitted by the Government to travel abroad for medical treatment, despite the appeals his family and by foreign governments. Depriving him of medical treatment is a clear breach of his basic rights.

The political trial of the Deputy Leader of Jumhooree Party, MP Hon. Abdulla Riyaz

On the 9th of July 2017 Deputy Leader of Jumhooree Party and MP Hon. Abdulla Riyaz was acquitted of the case filed against him by the State, stating a lack of evidence. However, as part of the on-going harassment of opposition lawmakers, Hon. Riyaz has been summoned thrice to the Police Headquarters along with other parliament members, to be questioned in relation to entering the parliament during a military lockdown of the parliament.

The blockade of Jumhooree Party headquarters and the inhumane treatment of Hon. Qasim as well as his politically motivated trials and the harassment of opposition lawmakers show the heavy handed approach of the Government in addressing the loss of its support in the parliament and amongst the people as indicated in the heavy losses suffered by pro-government candidates in the recently concluded local council elections. The arbitrary actions of the government are weakening democratic institutions and eroding the rule of law in the country.

ENDS

Jumhooree Party

Male’, Maldives

30th July 2017

 

 
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