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#Maldives in Constitutional Crisis: Military obstruct accountability and justice by wearing identity concealing face masks

Male', Maldives.

Maldives Military wore black face masks to conceal their identity as they stormed the site of another civic protest against the military's forced disappearance of Judge Abdulla Mohamed. In doing so, the military obstructs justice and accountability by preventing the persons harmed and others from enforcing their constitutional right to hold military officers accountable for their actions.

In the international scene, it is common to see Israeli security forces don face masks and this too, only when attacking innocent Palestinians. Hence, it is rather disturbing to see the Maldivian military dodging accountability and justice by wearing identity concealing masks when confronting civilians.

The disturbing incident adds to the growing lengthy list of violations of fundamental constitutional rights by President Nasheed's military, police, administration and party.

The wearing of face masks by protestors is banned in several countries. The issue is related to the question of allowing the concealing of identity of persons who may be in contravention of the law.

In last night's events, masked individuals wearing Maldives military riot gear entered the scene after the Police Commander of riot police at the scene reportedly refused an order to arrest individuals at the protest. These masked individuals arrested several civilians and transported them away from the scene.

As in the traditional situation, the first presumption is that the individual behind the mask is engaged in an illegal activity. This presumption is lent credence by the fact that the current protests were prompted the military's contravention of the constitution of the country. Further, the Maldives courts have ruled that the police arrest of civic protestors on previous nights was unconstitutional.

The wearing of face masks by the military raise questions of legality in the act. It raises the question of whether such practices are allowed under the constitution and law. If legal, then is it standard practice for Maldives military to wear face masks in facing civic protests. If it is not standard practice, under what circumstances would military be given orders to wear face masks? And what level of officer in the military hierarchy would be authorized to issue such orders?

These are questions that the Parliamentary Committee of National Defense must ask the military, if it is to defend the fundamental rights of Maldivian citizens. However, past weeks have shown that the said Parliamentary Committee has been hijacked by President Nasheed's MDP Mps, and it is futile to even hope that the Committee can discharge its constitutional responsibility for hodling the military accountable for any of its acts.

The resolution of this lies not in the parliament now, nor in the judiciary. Nor does it lie in the hands of independent institutions such as the Prosecutor General or the Humand Rights Commission, since none of these institutions have condemned last night's act by the military. The onus of holding President Nasheed and the military accountable now rest with the people, through legal means and within the bounds of the constitution. It is for experienced minds and national interest to lead the people down this path and away from the conflictual and self serving path shown by political parties.

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