Maldives riot police used ‘disproportionate force’

Maldives riot police used ‘disproportionate force’
March 13 10:35 2018

Police used disproportionate force in some instances to disperse daily opposition demonstrations since February 1, the human rights watchdog said Monday.

Some police officers caused injuries to civilians and reporters and resorted to pepper spraying protesters in violation of rules on the use of less-lethal weapons, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives found from its field monitoring.

“The commission is investigating six cases of suspected brutality during protest dispersal and in police custody under the Anti-Torture Act,” the watchdog said.

Other observations from the HRCM field monitors include the refusal of some protesters to obey police orders, the use of inappropriate language by both sides, and the participation of children. The monitors also noted obscene language and motorcycle horn-blowing during loud protests that continue after midnight.

But more recent protests were conducted peacefully and police did not use excessive force, the HRCM observed.

Since the current commissioners took office, the five-member commission has been persistently criticised as toothless and complicit in alleged human rights abuses committed by the current administration.