October 28, 2014
The People’s Majlis on Tuesday threw out a 5055 signature petition which urged the parliament’s National Security Committee to pressure the Maldives Police Services to conduct a speedy and thorough investigation.
In a letter to MP Imthiyaz Fahmy, who sponsored the petition, Majlis Secretary General Ahmed Mohamed said the petition had failed to fulfill requirements outlined in the Majlis standing orders.
Condemning the move, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP said Secretary General Mohamed had later admitted the rejection of the petition was “a mistake” and confirmed it had been submitted according to all procedures.
“We are extremely concerned. The MDP submitted the case to various subcommittees. Ruling party MPs killed the case in every single committee, and have now killed the 5055 signature petition submitted by Rilwan’s family,” Fahmy MP said.
“I don’t know whether they will be looking at it again. But they [Majlis] did admit that what they did was wrong when they threw out the petition. They have completely ignored the law when they issued a letter to me to saying the petition does not meet requirements.”
The Majlis secretariat had said the sponsoring MP had not signed all pages of the petition as Article 200 of Majlis regulations. However, Fahmy pointed out his signature was in fact present on all pages.
Article 199 the Majlis standing orders state a petition can only be submitted on a bill submitted to Majlis, an issue taken up in Majlis, or an issue of public concern.
Fahmy’s urgent motion on Rilwan’s disappearance on August 19 was accepted with bipartisan support.
“When I countered all of their arguments, they at last said it was a mistake. All the required signatures were there. Then, not knowing what to say, they said we will try to proceed. What kind of answer is this?” the Maafannu North MP said.
“The PPM holds a majority in Majlis. Their refusal to look into the issue via Majlis sub committees and rejection of the petition indicates the government’s stand on this issue.”
Despite public outcry, the PPM has largely remained indifferent. Today is the 81st day since the reporter disappeared.
The petition, submitted on September 4, asked MPs to investigate if the police had been negligent in investigating Rilwan’s disappearance and asked MPs to find out if an abduction reported on August 8 in front of Rilwan’s apartment building was connected to his disappearance.
Four men have been arrested over the case, but only one man remains in custody at present. The police have only revealed few details on the investigation.
Home Minister Umar Naseer said he believed Rilwan is alive and promised to return him safe to his family. He has also acknowledged involvement of criminal gangs in the case.
Human rights NGO Maldivian Democracy Network released a report in September implicating radicalised gangs in Rilwan’s disappearance.
Discounting theories of voluntary disappearance and suicide, the investigation – conducted by Glasgow-based Athena Intelligence and Security – concludes the disappearance is likely to have been an abduction.
The report confirmed evidence of possible “hostile surveillance” at the terminal conducted by two known affiliates of Malé based Kuda Henveiru gang.
The NGO on October 23 accused the police of negligence in investigating the disappearance for their failure to inform the public on progress and failure to confirm if the abduction reported on the night Rilwan went missing was related to his disappearance.