Police officers involved in last nights brutality suspended from frontline duty

Police arrests during youth protest against workplace harassment held on May 1, 2021 | Photo: Adhadhu

Malé, Maldives – Maldives Police Service has announced that their officers who brutally dispersed youth grass root movement “Rise Up Movement” against sexual harassment at the workplace protest held last night had been suspended from frontline operations.

According to police, these officers were being investigated by Professional Standards Command and also Use of Force Review Committee of Maldives Police.

This comes while the Commissioner of Police, Mohamed Hameed has ordered an inquiry in to the policing of last night’s peaceful protest and also Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) had announced today that they are investigating the police brutality of last night under the Anti-Torture law.

On the occasion of the World Labour Day on May 1st, the youngsters of Maldives organized a peaceful protest, “Rise Up MV Movement” against sexual harassment experienced by workers in their place of employment. 

The organizers had earlier informed that the protest will be taking place in accordance to the Covid-19 health and safety restrictions provided by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and that it will begin at the Rasfannu area on Saturday evening.

After hundreds of youth-protesters raised their voices against the sexual harassment that workers have to endure at their workplace in Rasfannu area, they proceeded their way to a new location, but were halted by the Maldives Police Service (MPS) reportedly warning protestors to not take their demonstration to the inner-city or they will be arrested, although they have previously allowed political parties to conduct political activities on the road.

While local media outlet states that the police had violently disrupted the peaceful protest of the youngsters, a video spreading rapidly in social media show that Police had pepper sprayed some protestors at close range and had violently removed individuals. Along with this, the video also showed that the Police had sprayed pepper spray onto a woman while arresting her along with the people near her. 

Since last night, Police has been under fire for using violence in disrupting a protest that was carried out peacefully by the protestors. Followed by multiple concerns from the citizens, the Commissioner of Police, Mohamed Hameed tweeted saying that he fully understands the concerns of the citizens and that he has ordered for a thorough investigation into the circumstances and the actions of the officers concerned by Professional Standards.

Along with this, the Home Minister of Maldives, Imran Abdullah also assured the citizens that inquiries will be held to make sure whether the Police went against the Use of Force rules in the protest that was held last night. Minister Imran stated that although the government allows Police to use violence, it should only be used in situations that is included in the Use of Force rules of the Police.

While some protestors ended up at the hospital last night to get treated for the injuries they received from the protest, some were taken into Police custody. 

The actions by the police have also been condemned by the Maldives Media Council and Maldives Journalist Association for police violence against media covering the youth protest.

The youth of Maldives are outraged by the actions of Police during last night’s protest and believe that the Police had forcefully disrupted the protest without any proper rights.