Four years after the disappearance of journalist Ahmed Rilwan, the criminal court has acquitted two suspects on trial for abducting him.
Ahmed Rilwan, a reporter with the Maldives Independent newspaper, was likely abducted in August 2014 and has been missing since. Alif Rauf and Mohamed Nooradeen were accused of forcing Rilwan into a car at knife-point outside his apartment building in Hulhumalé on 8 August 2014. Both were arrested shortly after his disappearance but remained free for the duration of the trial.
Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, has expressed deep disappointment in the trial’s verdict.
Said Josef Benedict, CIVICUS Civic Space Research officer: “This acquittal highlights the culture of impunity that exists in The Maldives today and sends a chilling message to Maldivian media workers seeking to hold government accountable.”
“The weak police investigation into Rilwan’s case and concerns about the credibility of the trial has raised serious questions about the willingness of the state to bring the perpetrators to justice,” said Benedict.
“CIVICUS will continue to demand justice for Ahmed Rilwan and other journalists who have faced threats and attacks for undertaking their crucial work.”
Since February 2018, media workers have been targeted as part of nationwide crackdown. At least a dozen journalists have been injured while covering protests, with reporters being arrested and ill-treated. There has been no independent investigation into the violations.
“The authorities must end all forms of harassment against journalists and protect the rights of all journalists and media houses by impartially investigating any allegation of harassment or attack with a view to bringing those responsible to justice.”
CIVICUS Monitor, an online tool that tracks threats to civil society in all countries, has rated the space for civil society in Maldives as ‘Obstructed’.
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