Malé, Maldives – A joint press brief released by Transparency Maldives, Uthema, Hope for Women, and Family Legal Clinic has condemned the release of former Tourism Minsiter Ali Waheed’s passport – a man who is facing seven charges of sexual violence.
In the press brief, the CSOs highlighted that Ali Waheed has been charged with various counts of sexual violence, including that of attempted rape, which is considered a huge crime in the Maldives. Given Ali Waheed’s history of seeking asylum in a foreign country and not returning to the Maldives, the CSO’s highlighted that the possibility of the same happening is all too real, which is something the court should have considered before releasing his passport on 9th February 2021.
It further read that it is not acceptable that no travel restrictions were placed on Ali Waheed during the release of his passport, and that the passport was released on the word of only one doctor.
Continuing, the two page brief stated that while ensuring the return of Ali Waheed was solely placed on a guarantor submitted by him, this is something that is out of common practice for the court, and that given the high records of injustice for victims of rape and other violence of sexual nature, such conduct by the court will only hinder justice further and result in low reporting of such crimes, in a country where reports of such crimes are already low, despite the high crime rates.
In addition, the press release condemned the carelessness of the state, highlighting the fact that the government claimed that it came to know of Ali Waheed’s departure from media sources, despite Maldives Immigration being the recipient and executor of the court order to release Waheed’s passport.
The CSOs also pressed that it is unfortunate that judge presiding over cases of sexual nature are not well aware with crimes of sexual nature, specially given that the judge overlooking this specific case has been declared by the Judicial Service Commission to have been a perpetrator of sexual harassment.
Concern was expressed over the fact that such conduct would further distress the 13 victims of Ali Waheed’s crimes, and those who are enduring sexual violence in the country everyday, as well as enable those in higher seats of the who are committing such crimes, as it gives a message that they are untouchable. To ensure that this comes to an end, such technicalities and faults within the system needs to be changed, the statement read.
The statement ended with a call onto respective authorities to ensure that all hindrances in the way of justice against women and all victims of such crimes are eliminated.
Ali Waheed was sacked from his position as the Tourism Minister of Maldives after multiple female employees accused him of sexual harassment, sexual violence and attempted rape.