September 21, 2014
Human rights advocacy group Maldives Democracy Network (MDN) is to release the findings of an investigation into missing Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan tomorrow.
Rilwan – missing for 44 days – is believed to have been abducted from outside his apartment at knifepoint and pushed into a red car at approximately 2am on August 8.
“We are very concerned about Ahmed Rilwan’s disappearance on August 8, 2014. Hence, we decided to look into Rilwan’s disappearance and have commissioned a foreign expert to conduct an independent investigation,” MDN said in a statement today.
MDN will release the findings of the report during a press conference at 2:30pm tomorrow.
The Maldives Police Services have been criticised by numerous groups during the course of their investigation for the lack of progress and poor communication with those close to the case.
On September 16, the police said they had found “no concrete evidence” to link Rilwan’s disappearance with the abduction outside his apartment in Hulhumalé.
Eyewitnesses told Minivan News they had reported the incident to the police and that officers had recovered a knife from the scene. The passports of four individuals have been held in relation to the case.
Hundreds of people marched on Malé streets last Friday evening (September 19) calling on the Maldives Police Services to answer questions regarding Rilwan’s abduction.
Members of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), civil society organisations, journalists, and opposition Maldivian Democratic Party members joined the ‘Suvaalu March’ (Question March). The march across the capital was led by Rilwan’s family, friends, and colleagues.
Demonstrators carried boards addressing the police and asking ‘What happened to Rilwan?’ ‘Where is the red car?’, ‘Where is the knife?’, ‘Why are you diverting the investigation from Hulhumalé?’, and ‘Who are you afraid of?’
The march ended with a prayer at Artificial Beach.
Minivan News Deputy Editor Zaheena Rasheed said the police must answer questions regarding Rilwan’s disappearance or disappearances may become the norm in the Maldives.
Rilwan’s brother Moosa Rilwan noted an increase in violent crime in the Maldives with 31 people killed since 2007.
“Pepetrators have been brought to justice only in a handful of cases. Police failure to conduct a thorough investigation has led to increase in knifings. We must hold the police accountable in Rilwan’s case and we must find him,” he said.
“We are extremely concerned over the slow progress in investigation and call on the authorities to take this case seriously.”
In response, Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed said he would not release any information that may impede police investigations regardless of demonstrations.
Speaking at the Haa Dhaal Hanimaadhoo Island police station today, Waheed said that revealing information midway through the investigation may affect society and harm certain people.
However, Moosa Rilwan said police should be able to tell the family by now what line of investigation they are pursuing.
“I believe they must have enough information to tell us if he was abducted, disappeared, or has gone into hiding,” he said.
Rilwan’s family met with the HRCM and Police Integrity Commission last week to share concerns over the police’s handling of the investigation, requesting the two commissions pressure the police for a thorough and speedy investigation.
Several international organisations, including Office of the Human Rights Commissioner, Reporters Without Borders, and the Committee to Protect Journalists, have called on the Maldives’ authorities to expedite investigations.