The Information Commissioner's Office has ordered the President's Office to disclose the receipts from President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's September 2021 visit to New York within the next five days.
The President’s Office had decided to classify the receipts following The Maldives Journal’s further questioning regarding the costs of the visit disclosed to the newspaper by the President’s Office.
The Maldives Journal had noted that the disclosed costs had many discrepancies and had requested the President’s Office for receipts from the visit. The President’s Office claimed that disclosing the receipts involved a violation of the privacy of third parties and also posed a security threat.
The President’s Office had failed to mention how the disclosure of a receipt could pose a threat to security.
The President's Office had claimed that the President’s visit, which had lasted from 18 to 26 September, had cost a total MVR 5,354,709.08.
The Maldives Journal had appealed to the Information Commissioner's Office.
At a hearing held today, Information Commissioner Ahid Rasheed ordered the President's Office to disclose the receipts after, as per the law, redacting any information that could violate the privacy of a third party or could pose a threat to security.
At a prior hearing at the Information Commissioner's Office during the appeals process, the President's Office had claimed that they believed that the requested information had been disclosed. Mauroof Ahmed, the President's Office's Deputy Legal Officer, had said that the party requesting for information "had no need" to see the receipts of the trip.
As an example, Mauroof had claimed that disclosing the receipts could reveal private information about a delegate's medical condition. Likewise, giving out information about the hotel where the President stayed at could pose a security threat.
At that hearing as well, the Information Commissioner had said that the receipts, which were also information that could be requested, should be disclosed after the sensitive parts were redacted. He also said that the President's Office had not sufficiently explained why the receipts had been withheld.