Police blocked the Elections Commission (EC) from conducting the re-vote of the presidential election on October 19 in contravention of the constitution, the Police Act, and the Elections Act, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) has said. The commission said in a press statement yesterday (October 22) that it had replied to a letter sent by the Maldives Police Service (MPS) seeking to clarify which laws the police had violated and whether its claims on local media that police stopped the election were based on an investigation. Police said on their website on Monday (October 21) that claims of the police acting outside their law enforcement mandate were “misleading” and were made “without considering the truth of the matter at all.” The HRCM said in its reply that an investigation had been launched “immediately” upon learning that police had obstructed the EC on the morning of October 19 – an hour before polls were due to open. The commission’s staff went to the EC offices, made inquiries and sought information from the EC secretary general as well as police officers. “It was established with certainty through the commission’s inquiries that [police] stopped the Elections Commission from taking anything out [of its office],” HRCM said.
Announcing the cancellation of the polls on October 19, the EC said in a statement that its staff were told by police officers that “no document relating to the election can leave the commission’s offices”.
As HRCM deputy chair, Ahmed Tholal, was unable to contact the police focal point until 11:45am despite repeated calls. The commission’s letter dismissed as “false” the police’s contention that the HRCM’s condemnation in the media was made “without any consideration [of the facts].”
The HRCM also revealed that Acting Home Minister Ahmed Shafeeu told the commission that police had “acted upon an order given to them”.
Moreover, the HRCM noted that “the police stand” was made clear in a press conference by Chief Superintendent Abdulla Nawaz on the morning of October 19, in which he said that the police decided not to provide cooperation to the EC as it had not followed the 16-point guidelines imposed by the Supreme Court judgment that annulled the September 7 election.