Monday, 09 May 2016

The Government of Maldives Submits its Response to the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearance (WGEID)

Issued By 

9 May 2016, Male'; The Government of Maldives has, on 5 May 2016, submitted to the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearance (WGEID) its responses to the inquiry by the Working Group on the disappearance of Maldivian national, Mr. Ahmed Rilwan. In its submission, the Government rejected any suggestion that it is responsible for the disappearance of Rilwan, or that it has had any involvement as alleged or at all. The Government notes that, contrary to certain media reports in the Maldives, it has not been summoned or ordered to respond to allegations by the United Nations.  It is a voluntary engagement with international partners, especially the UN institutions to ensure transparency in the efforts to promote and protect human rights in the Maldives.

The mandate of the WGEID is to assist families of disappeared persons to ascertain the fate and whereabouts of their disappeared relative; and to monitor States’ compliance with their international treaty obligations deriving from the UN Declaration on the Protection of All persons from Enforced Disappearance and to provide States with assistance in the implementation of these norms

In responding, the Government of the Maldives is clear that it recognizes, and respects the mandate of the WGEID. However, it is quite clear that in the absence of any evidence adduced by those submitting the petition to implicate the Government or law enforcement agencies, directly or indirectly in Mr. Rilwan’s disappearance, it would be wholly inappropriate at this stage to draw any adverse finding. 

The investigation carried out by the Maldives Police Service has been thorough notwithstanding the difficulties encountered by the initial delay of the crucial first five days in the reporting of the disappearance and certain other challenges in carrying out a prompt investigation into such a complex matter.

Based on established facts of the on- going in- depth investigation, Mr. Ahmed Rilwan is believed to have been abducted by as yet, persons unknown, on 8 August 2014, at the ferry terminal in Male’ and boarding a ferry to Hulhumale.

It is regrettable that despite the extensive efforts of the Maldives Police Service, efforts that continue to this day, Rilwan has not been found, nor have those responsible for his disappearance been brought to justice.

The implication that the Government is responsible for the disappearance however is patently false. Further, the suggestion that that the law enforcement agencies have failed to act diligently or have been negligent in their conduct of the investigation, fails to take account of the extensive investigation carried out taken by the authorities.

The petition submitted offers no evidence to support this allegation, it merely states that Rilwan has been abducted, that he has not been found, and that any fault lies with the Government. The allegation that any fault lies with the Government, is a wild accusation which, as noted, is not supported by any evidence.

The Government recognizes, and accepts without question its obligation towards its citizens to, amongst numerous other things, provide protection from enforced or involuntary disappearance. The Government remains committed to ensure the security and well-being of all its citizens and where that well-being is threatened, bring to account those that are responsible.

Just as there is this clear commitment to its citizens, the Maldives Government is also committed to continuing to engage with its international partners, and international institutions such as the UN.  It has therefore submitted a full and detailed response to the Working Group.

As the Government response, and accompanying documents demonstrate, the investigation has been as thorough and professional as would be expected, and has treated the disappearance with the utmost urgency; each and every identified witness has been interviewed, and all lines of enquiry followed to their conclusion.

Individuals have been arrested and interviewed following suspicion of their involvement, however, the evidences to date, has not been sufficient to ‘charge’ those individuals with an offence.  This is in accordance with accepted charging protocols.  The fact that an individual is suspected of being involved in an offence is not sufficient to charge that individual and have him/her stand trial, there must be concrete evidence.  To ignore due process would be an affront to the rule of law.

The Maldives Police gives highest priority to Rilwan’s case and is confident that the matter will be brought to a satisfactory conclusion and the perpetrators brought to justice.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Republic of the Maldives

Website: www.foreign.gov.mv

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