Maldives Police Service has announced that their officers who used excessive force in the protest against sexual harassment held last night has been temporarily suspended from frontline duty.
According to the Maldives Police Service, the officers are being investigated by the Professional Standards Command and also the Use of Force Review Committee of Maldives Police.
The protest was held last night to raise awareness against the rise in sexual harassment cases at workplace by a local organization called ‘Rise-Up MV’ movement. A peaceful protest as per the HPA guidelines was planned near the Rasfannu area. However, the protest became too aggressive as protesters went on to the busy Majeedhee Magu to demand justice for sexual harassment victims.
Police violently disrupted the peaceful protest by using excessive force. Moreover, a viral video on social media showed that Police had pepper sprayed some protestors at close range and had brutally removed individuals. Furthermore, the video also showed that the Police pepper sprayed onto a woman at close proximity while arresting her along with the people near her.
Maldives Police Service has been in hot waters after last night’s incident and were quick to release a statement saying a thorough investigation will be followed in regard to police conduct during the protest. The Commissioner of Police, Mohamed Hameed tweeted saying that he fully understands the concerns of the citizens and that he has ordered for a thorough investigation into the circumstances and the actions of the officers concerned by Professional Standards.
The Home Minister, Imran Abdullah also assured the citizens that inquiries will be held to make sure whether the Police went against the Use of Force rules in the protest that was held last night.
The actions by the police during last night’s protest have also been condemned by the Maldives Media Council, Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, and Maldives Journalist Association.