K. Male'
14 May 2024 | Tue 17:31
A rally in the case of journalist Ahmed Rilwan
A rally in the case of journalist Ahmed Rilwan
Murder of Ahmed Rilwan, Yameen Rasheed
Reports on journalists’ murder case contain highly sensitive material, will publish redacted reports by month-end: DDCom
Six associations from Maldives released a statement calling to publicize the findings
The commission intends to complete the redacted reports by 31 May 2024
The Presidential Commission on Disappearances and Deaths is aware that the families of Ahmed Rilwan Abdullah and Yameen Rasheed are keen to access the official reports

The Presidential inquiry Commission on Disappearances and Deaths (DDCom) has announced that they will publicize redacted reports of their findings in connection with the murder cases of journalists’ Ahmed Rilwan and Yameen Rasheed, by month-end.

In response to a press release issued by six organizations and associations of the Maldives on Tuesday regarding the failure of the presidential inquiry commission in disclosing findings of their investigations, to the families of the victims and the public, the President’s Office instructed DDCom to refrain from sharing their findings with anyone.

President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu and the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) has called upon the commission to make their findings public to the families before the commission is dissolved this month.

The president recently decided to dissolve the commission by 31 May 2024.

The press release by the six organizations called on DDCom to ensure their finding are revealed to the families of the victims and made public before it is set to be dissolved later this month.

Highlighting that although they appreciate the decision made by the president to extend the dissolution of DDCom until 31 May 2024 at the request of the families of the victims, the truth about the fate of the victims must be provided to over 20 families who have awaited justice through the commission.

The statement also urged HRCM to intervene in this “grave” matter and ensure the families are provided with the findings of DDCom’s investigations.

Following a meeting requested by the civil society network Coalition for Open Governance in the Maldives on May 7, DDCom claimed that the President’s Office had instructed them to only share the findings of the probes with the President’s Office and that the commission was instructed not to publicly disclose any of the findings.

The organizations expressed strong belief that DDCom should disclose their findings to families of the murdered and disappeared, in accordance with Section 13(a) of the Presidential Commissions Act.

The organizations also do not belief there is a legitimate prohibition on the DDCom to disclose it.

Further, they said that the families as well as civil society groups agreed to a redacted report that will protect witnesses and stressed that withholding information about the findings of the investigations violates multiple human rights of the victims’ families, including the right to information and the right to access to justice.

Highlighting that DDCom has disregarded multiple requests by civil society representatives to clarify which specific clause in the Presidential Commissions Act (Law no. 2019/4) that supposedly prevents it from disclosing the findings to the families of the victims, the statement reads that instead, DDCom had stated that they would submit their findings to the president, as instructed.

In response to this statement, DDCom revealed that they are aware that the families of the victims are keen to access the official reports they have completed in connection with the cases.

However, noting that a significant amount of the material held in the reports are highly sensitive and confidential, the commission revealed that they intend to complete redacted reports by 31 May 2024.

Citing Section 9 of the Presidential Commission’s Act, which stipulates that all reports should be sent to the President, the commission stressed that they are legally bound to comply with this.

Noting that they are working to complete redacted reports so that the families can access important information about the cases, DDCom stated that they will recommend the publication of these reports, to the president.

Further, DDCom expressed commitment to hand-over all its records of permanent value to the President’s Office.

Guidelines and procedures of the President’s Office will accompany all material regarding how to ensure its security, confidentiality, but also accessibility for future use.

DDCom also recognized that it was set up because former president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih considered that specific murders and disappearances were not adequately investigated and justice was not delivered due to failures of established institutions.

With this, DDCom expressed commitment to be fully transparent and highlighted the exceptional and extensive lengths the commission, and partner agencies including international ones, have gone to deliver on their mandate to conduct independent, impartial and credible investigations.

Further, DDCom revealed that they have focused on justice and accountability with a victim-centered approach throughout, and that they were aspired to boost the trust and confidence the public has around not only the work of the commission but also the permanent institutions that have supported it.

DDCom asserted that they have  gone to significant lengths to meet with the families of the victims and communicating developments on a regular basis.

Further, they also ensure their members were available whenever they were reached out to.

The commission also recognized the significance of maintaining a close and positive relationship with the families as the Commission’s priority has always been seeking justice for their lost loved ones.

Rilwan was last seen purchasing a ticket to the Hulhumalé ferry from capital city Malé, on 8 August 2014. Two years later in 2016, the police had confirmed that Rilwan was abducted and that one of the men caught trailing Rilwan on CCTV footage had been identified as Mohamed Suaid, who was arrested but released by the Criminal Court in November 2014. He has since been pronounced dead in battle after having left for Syria shortly being released from remand.

Two men accused of abducting Rilwan were acquitted in 2018; one of these suspects is the owner of the red car believed to have been used to abduct the journalist, with investigators saying that DNA analysis of hairs lifted from the trunk of the car matched that of Rilwan’s mother.

DDCom confirmed that Rilwan was killed by an extremist group in 2019.

The commission has also linked Rilwan’s murder to two other high-profile murders in the Maldives; the 2012 murder of Ungoofaaru MP Dr. Afrasheem Ali and the 2017 murder of blogger and social media activist Yameen.

Yameen Rasheed was stabbed to death in the early hours on 23 April 2017 in an attack that shook the nation. His body was found on the staircase of his residence, with over 30 stab wounds. While his attackers were caught on CCTV footage, police had said that they had been "in disguise".

Criminal Court in late 2023 dismissed charges against three men who were charged in both cases following leads by DDCom, after citing insufficient evidence.

Following this, the Prosecutor General decided against appealing the verdicts.

Since then, the families of the victims have been advocating for transparency of DDCom and for swift justice in all cases assigned to them.

DDCom was established after former president Solih assumed office, on November 2018.

Last updated at: 1 month ago
Reviewed by: Maryam Dhaanish Nasheed