Local media Mihaaru reported on Monday that unidentified officers from Maldives Police Service beat up a Bangladeshi man on Thursday night, alleged to be a wide-scale narcotics dealer.
Police have recently conducted a series of organised operations to combat Maldives prevalent drug culture, seizing a large amount of recreational drugs and other illegal substances in the process.
Reports indicate that having followed the alleged perpetrators for a short time, Police entered Ujaalaage in Maafannu ward and seized 2 kilograms of drugs during the event.
As per reports, two people were arrested in relation to the case and the court has remanded them for an unknown period.
Upon entering the residence, the Bangladeshi expat allegedly attacked the officers, to which they retaliated by beating him up with kicks and jabs.
A video of the incident went viral on social media, in which officers hailing from the Drug Enforcement Department (DED) are seen beating up the suspect in question.
The video depicts plain-clothed officers inflicting multiple blows on the suspect, including kicks and jabs after the individual was thrown down and pinned to the ground.
Throughout the duration of the video, the person did not exhibit any signs of resisting arrest and is seen as acting in compliance with the officers’ bidding.
Moreover, an officer is seen smashing a concrete block on the man’s left wrist, presumably in an attempt to destroy his wristwatch.
Following the video going viral, the officers entered a neighbouring house to determine who recorded the video and warned them to delete footage of the operation.
Concern over lack of investigations
Police Commissioner Mohamed Hameed condemned the acts of the DED officers, guaranteeing that they will be suspended immediately and investigated.
According to the Commissioner, the officers are being internally investigated by the Police Professional Standards Committee. Moreover, he noted that independent investigations by the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) and National Integrity Commission (NIC) are ongoing.
There have been previous cases where some officers were demoted or sacked following incidents involving brutality. However, the criminal acts were not thoroughly investigated.
This is also the primary concern expressed by several lawyers concerning Thursday night’s incident.
Lawyer Hussain Shameem stated that a criminal investigation can be launched into the incident under four acts, including the Penal Code, Anti-torture Act, Law on Prohibiting Threatening and Possession of Dangerous Weapons and Sharp Objects and act on preventing gang violence.
Watched disturbing video of @PoliceMv manhandling a suspect. The officers involved need to be treated as accused. Suspension is not sufficient. Initiate a Criminal investigation immediately! This is a crime under Section 120 of Penal Code. @Mihaarunews @cnm_mv
— Hussain Shameem (@HuShameem) July 5, 2019
Hussain Shameem’s tweet outlining the severity of the issue of police brutality.
He further expressed noticing hesitation to conduct a transparent investigation into the matter, despite top officials of Police acknowledging and condemning the act.
According to Shameem, the officers must be immediately arrested over endangering the community and attempting to destroy evidence.
“They are currently threatening [those who recorded the video]. Therefore, even now, they should be placed under arrest. I believe that Police attempting to avoid investigation serves as an encouragement for brutality”, he said.
“They are conveying the message that officers will not be held accountable for their brutal action and will be able to return to work even after suspension, once the public forgets the incident.”
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