Dhiyares newspaper the sister outlet of TMJ has requested more information from the Ministry of Defence regarding the bilateral agreement signed between India and the Maldives titled “Development, Support, and the Maintenance of the Maldives National Defence Force Harbour Sifavaru at Uthuru Thila Falhu”.
The newspaper’s request for information comes in light of Defence Minister Mariya Didi and Chief of Defence Force Abdullah Shamal’s statements given at the last session of the Parliament Committee on National Security Service.
Dhiyares has requested the following information:
- - Detailed information on the Maldivian government’s authority to permit vessels of another country to use the facilities without India’s permission as per the agreement,
- - All of the powers granted to the Special Working Group that oversees the development of the facilities at Uthuru Thila Falhu; also the clause of the agreement that details these powers verbatim,
- - Details on the constituent members of the Joint Resident Team that oversee the day-to-day running of the facilities; the powers granted to the Team; and the clause in the agreement that details these powers verbatim,
- - Details on any plans that may be in place to develop an aircraft runway,
- - Details on if the agreement may be nullified without India’s approval,
- - Details on any personnel who may be stationed for any purpose at the facilities who are in any way associated with the Indian military; details on whether said personnel are permitted to carry weapons.
To date, the Ministry of Defence has refused to disclose any information Dhiyares has requested on this matter. Most recently, the Ministry had claimed that disclosure of any part of the agreement posed a threat to national security.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has since ordered the Ministry to respond to Dhiyares’ previous request for information. The Ministry refused to comply.
Some of the information that Dhiyares had previously requested had been made public during the last session of the Parliament’s “241 Committee”. The statements made by the Ministry of Defence had confirmed that Indian “technicians” to be stationed at the facilities would receive diplomatic immunity.
Although the session had been run in secret, the Majlis secretariat has since published the recordings on their official YouTube channel.