April 24, 2017
The murder of Yameen Rasheed, a popular social media blogger and activist, on 23rd April 2017 is the most recent in a series of attacks against government critics in the Maldives. CHRI mourns the loss of yet another voice in the Maldives fighting to protect democratic values enshrined in its Constitution and denounces the lack of political will in preventing such attacks.
The Maldives government and the Maldives Police Service must double their efforts at guaranteeing and upholding the right of all Maldivians to freedom of expression.
An IT professional by training, Rasheed was known for his fiercely independent blog, the Daily Panic, which carried commentary on Maldives politics, government policies and religious radicalisation. He was also closely involved with the campaign demanding justice for Ahmed Rilwan, the journalist from Maldivian Independent who went missing in August 2014. CHRI joins other voices in demanding justice for Rasheed and urges authorities to ensure thorough, transparent and independent investigation and bring the perpetrators to account.
CHRI further urges a review of police action in investigating threat to Rasheed’s life. Like several other bloggers, journalists and activists in the island nation, Rasheed too is reported to have received several death threats prior to his murder. He had reported these to the police. No arrests have yet been made on any of the death threat complaints.
Under the Police Act 2008, law enforcement officials are duty bound to “ensure public order”, “aid in the protection of the lives of people”, “stop all criminal acts” and “discover, ascertain and investigate criminal acts in the Maldives”. Maldives Police Service must not only ensure proper investigation into Rasheed’s killing, but explain steps which are being taken to counter such threats. Specifically, they need to explain if any action was taken on Rasheed’s complaint. It is important that the police be held to account for any negligence in fulfilling their statutory duties.
The Maldives government must recognise that widespread and systematic attacks against dissenters and activists represent a structural failure of the state to fulfil its obligations under the Constitution and International Law to uphold and protect citizens’ human rights.