Malé, Maldives – The Human Rights Comission of Maldives has released a news letter regarding protests, advising protesters to abide by the guidelines of the Health Protection Agency (HPA) when carrying out such activities.
HRC stated that while the freedom to peaceful gatherings is a right allowed by the Section 32 of the Constitution of Maldives, the way we make use of the right and carry out such activities must be changed with respect to the current situation. The Commission also added that the right to express themselves is a basic right accessible to everyone in a free society.
While stressing on the current situation of Maldives, HRC noted that the protective guidelines implemented by the law are for the safety of the general public and that admist a global pandemic, it is very important to abide by these guidelines to minimize the spread of the disease as much as possible.
In addition to this, HRC noted that with regards to the current situation, the Director General of Health has banned gatherings involving more than 10 people in the capital city Malé (using the authority granted under section section 34(D) and section 12(A) of law number 7/2020 Public Health Protection Law ). They added that violations of the HPA and World Health Organisation guidelines are cause for much concern to the commission.
Furthermore, HRC noted that they have concluded from their observations that some participants of the ongoing series of protests from the opposition coalition are not abiding by the HPA guidelines and that this increases the chance for the spread of Covid-19 further deteriorating the situation in Maldives.
This is why, the HRC advised the participants of the protests to strictly abide by the guidelines for everyone’s safety while using the right to expression with respect to section 24(F) of law number 1/2013.
The Human Rights Commission also advised Maldives Police Service to follow HPA guidelines and respect the laws as well as the protester’s rights when dispersing protests.
The HRC also advised the police to offer protection to journalists covering the protests.