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Urgent Interventions

Death threats and harassment against Ms. Shahindha Ismail

MDV 001 / 0118 / OBS 002

Deaththreats / Harassment


January 5,2018

The Observatory for the Protectionof Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation AgainstTorture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the followingsituation in Maldives.

Description of the situation:

TheObservatory has been informed by reliable sources about death threats andharassment against Ms. Shahindha Ismail,Executive Director of the Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN).

According to the information received, Ms. Shahindha Ismail hasreceived several death threats that were posted on anonymous accounts onTwitter and Facebook, following the publication of news articles on the Vaguthu Online newspaper on December 28,2017 over an alleged anti-Islamic tweet posted by Ms. Ismail on December 21,2017. Ms. Ismail tweeted in response to President Yameen Abdul Gayoom’sstatement that he would not allow for any religion but Islam. Ms. Ismail’stweet read: “Religions other than Islam exist in thisworld because Allah allowed for it. No other religion would existotherwise, is it not?”. The articles published accused her ofblasphemy and branded her an apostate, two crimes that carry serious legalpenalties in Maldives, including the death penalty in some cases. Deaththreats were also made through comments posted in response to the Vaguthu Online articles.

Moreover, on December 28,2017, the Maldives police announced that they hadlaunched an investigation against Ms. Shahindha Ismail under theReligious Unity Act, which carries a five-year jail term, in relation to theabove-mentioned Twitter post. Shortly before the launching of theinvestigation, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs had issueda statement calling for anti-Islamic speech to be put to an end. On the otherhand, no investigation was carried out into the threats and acts ofintimidation against Ms. Ismail.

The Observatory fears that Ms. Shahindha Ismail is beingtargeted because of her criticism of President Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s humanrights record. In particular, Ms. Ismail is a strong advocate against religious fundamentalism inMaldives and has been a vocal critic of lawenforcement agencies’ inaction and impunity regarding the ongoing disappearanceof journalist Ahmed Rilwan and themurder of Mr. Yameen Rasheed, a human rights activist and bloggerin Maldives[1].

The Observatory strongly condemns theabove-mentioned death threats and harassment against Ms. Shahindha Ismail andurges the authorities of Maldives to guarantee in all circumstances her physical and psychologicalintegrity.

Actions requested:

Pleasewrite to the authorities of Maldives, urging them to:

i.Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms.Shahindha Ismail and all human rights defenders in Maldives;

ii. Carry out an immediate, thorough,impartial, and transparent investigation into the above-mentioned threatsagainst Ms. Shahindha Ismail in order toidentify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, andsanction them as provided by the law;

iii.Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level -against Ms. Shahindha Ismail as well as against all humanrights defenders in the country so that they are able to carry out theirwork without hindrance;

iv. Comply with the provisions ofthe United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular withits Articles 1 and12.2;

v. Ensure in all circumstancesrespect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with theUniversal Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rightsinstruments signed or ratified by Maldives.


· Mr. Azleen Ahmed, Minister of HomeAffairs of the Republic of Maldives, Twitter: @homeministrymv Email:

· Mr. Abdulla Yameen Gayoom, Presidentof the Republic of Maldives, Fax: (960) 332 5500 Twitter: @presidencymv

· Ms. Aminath Eenas,President of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, Fax:+960 3338658, +960 3304725, Email: /

· Ms. Hala Hameed, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Maldivesto the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22732 63 39, Email:

· Ambassador,Embassy of the Republic of Maldives to Belgium, Fax: +32 (0)2 256 7569, Email: /

Pleasealso write to the diplomatic representations of Maldives in your respectivecountries.


Geneva-Paris, January 5, 2018

Kindly inform us of any action undertakenquoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (theObservatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture(OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedysituations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are bothmembers of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented byinternational civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· E-mail:

· Tel and fax OMCT +41 22809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29

· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 4355 18 80

[1] For more information, seeObservatory Urgent Appeal MDV001 / 0417 / OBS 046, published on April 25, 2017, and Joint Open Letter to the Government of Maldives, May 12, 2017.

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