HRCM: Police used pepper spray on protestors without warning

The police used pepper spray on protestors without prior warning during the serial protests organized by the opposition coalition composed of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and People’s National Congress (PNC), according to the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM).

The opposition coalition has been holding serial protests in Male’ City since the imprisonment of opposition leader, former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, on December 25, 2022.

The statement comes amid allegations by the opposition of excessive use of force by the police in dismantling the protests.

In a statement Monday, HRCM said they have been closely monitoring the opposition’s protests in Male’ City and the atolls.

HRCM said they had monitored 49 political activities in Male’ City and the atolls, and were investigating issued they themselves found and ones submitted to the commission.

“This commission found some instances of use of force by police in dismantling protests , some instances of failure to issue prior warning before dismantling protests, and some instances where pepper spray was used without providing prior warning,” said the commission.

HRCM said that while freedom of assembly is a constitutional right, they found instances where the protestors themselves violated the right, including violation of road etiquette, blockage of traffic, usage of inappropriate words and slogans, hindering police work, and the involvement of a protestor under the age of 18.

The commission said they also found instances were people sprayed water on protestors, attempted to drive motorcycles into protestors and engage in other behavior that could harm protestors.

HRCM said it is important that people refrain from infringing on the rights of others in exercising the constitutional right to freedom of assembly.

The commission also urged reporters to maintain ethical standards in observing protests and be responsible in delivering information to the public.