Tuesday 24th May 2022
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freedom of expression

More arrested from protests under Pres Solih!

Statistics issued by Maldives Police Service (MPS) show that more had been arrested from anti-government rallies under this administration than the arrests made in the previous administration.
Looking at the statistics from MPS, 417 arrests were made in the period from November 2018 to March 31, 2022. This is the third year of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s presidency.
Solih’s party, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) is fond of claiming that the previous administration of Abdullah Yameen was anti-demonstration. Statistics show a different picture – at the end of his fourth year in office, 271 were arrested from opposition rallies. By the time his administration was over, 527 were arrested.
With one year and six months remaining in his term, some have speculated that this number would increase.

Looking at the statistics;

  • - 2019: nine arrests
  • - 2020: 113 arrests
  • - 2021: 240 arrests
  • - 2022: 55 arrests
  • - Total: 417 arrests

Number of people arrested from protests during President Yameen’s tenure

  • - 2014: 16 arrests
  • - 2015: 186 arrests
  • - 2016: 38 arrests
  • - 2017: 31 arrests
  • - 2018: 256 arrests
When comparing the two terms, one has to note that the five years of the Yameen administration saw massive, well planned protests. This includes the then-opposition’s May Day protests of 2015, protests following the guilty verdict on Parliament Speaker former President Mohamed Nasheed, and the protests that occurred after the Supreme Court decision on 1st February 2018. All these protests were engineered by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the fringe parties allied with MDP. All were carried out with the intention to topple the Yameen administration.
In contrast the current opposition, led by former President Abdullah Yameen, had not held any massive protests. However, the number of arrests made from such protests far out paces the number of protests held.
This, had sparked speculation on the actual levels of freedom of assembly.

Incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, during the campaign, had pledged to remove the bars on freedoms of assembly and speech. However, all the legal bars to freedoms of speech and assembly exists to this date. The April Presidential decree criminalizing the India Out movement is another restriction on freedom of speech.