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Maldives journalist missing for more than a year, groups deplore government's inaction

This statement was originally published on ifj.org on 8 August 2015.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) express solidarity with the Maldivian media community as they mark the one year anniversary of the disappearance of local journalist, Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla. The IFJ and MJA deplore the inaction by the Maldivian Government to investigate the journalist's disappearance and join local and international demands for an independent inquiry.

On August 8, 2014, the Minivan News journalist went missing. Rilwan was last seen boarding a ferry traveling to Hulhumale Island from the capital Male.

The evidence indicates that Rilwan was abducted out the front of his apartment, as neighbors heard screams before a man was forced into a car. Police recovered a knife at the scene. Rilwan's family also received phone calls warning them to call off search efforts. However, the Maldives police have failed to unearth any clue regarding the abduction or his whereabouts.

In late September last year, three suspects were arrested and each had an extended police custody; however they were released without charge.

The MJA said: "Since the police has said there is no evidence that he was killed, we urge the authorities to leave no day in rest in efforts to find him."

The IFJ is critical of the Maldivian police for the delay in properly investigating the case and bringing those responsible to justice. The recent action taken by police against Rilwan's family and colleagues is also concerning.

On July 8, 2015, the police intervened to prevent Rilwan's family from holding a press conference to update the situation regarding his disappearance and any recent developments.

The IFJ said: "It is deeply worrying that we are one year on since Rilwan was last seen and there is still no explanation to where he is or what happened. The Maldivian government needs to take a stronger stand against the continued attacks to media freedom and support the welfare of journalists across the country. We demand the Maldivian Government takes action to ensure answers are found regarding Rilwan and changes are made to guarantee the safety of the country's media community."

The IFJ added: "The IFJ expresses solidarity with Rilwan's family and all Maldivian journalists in their attempts to locate Rilwan, protect safety of journalists and defend press freedom."

On Saturday, August 8, 2015 journalists and supporters will hold a rally in Male calling for action and highlight the lack of progress in the case. Follow #FindMoyameenaa on social media for more details.

Read the SAMSN Blog: One Year Later: #FindMoyameenaa and watch our interview with Minivan News journalist and friend of Rilwan, Yameen Rasheed.



ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
What other IFEX members are saying
  • CPJ urges Maldives to launch independent investigation into case of missing journalist Rilwan

    The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, an independent statutory body, suggested that authorities were not doing enough to investigate Rilwan's disappearance, according to reports. The United Nations also voiced its concern about the case. In September, Rilwan's family asked the Police Integrity Commission, an official oversight body, to investigate allegations of police negligence in the handling of the case. The commission agreed, but has not yet released a report on the matter, according to news reports.



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