MDP held a public meeting in the Carnival area. Dhauru Photo/Abdullah Iyaan

HRCM calls for expedited repeal of law restricting gatherings

The HRCM said it had submitted a request to the parliament on August 14 to expedite the work on the bill.

15 September 2023

By Ahmed Mizyal

The Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) on Thursday called for the immediate repeal of the article prohibiting public gatherings in the Assembly Act.

The 'Freedom of Peaceful Assembly Act' was amended on 23 August 2016 to prohibit rallies in any place except a very few designated by the government.

According to the amendment, any kind of rally, march or procession can be held at a place designated and announced by the home ministry without obtaining written permission from the police.

According to an announcement issued by ministry on August 31, 2016, rallies can only be held in the carnival area without police permission. Therefore, rallies and demonstrations cannot be held elsewhere in the capital city without police permission.

HRCM said in a statement that the curtailment of the right to freedom of assembly under Article 32 of the Constitution violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and international standards signed and ratified by the Maldives.

The HRCM said it had submitted a request to the parliament on August 14 to expedite the work on the bill.

Freedom of assembly is a fundamental right guaranteed under the constitution and foreign treaties to which Maldives is a party.

According to the HRCM:

  • Article 32 of the constitution provides for peaceful assembly without prior permission

  • All public places should be considered as places where peaceful assembly can be held

  • Rallies should not be ordered to be held in remote areas without the attention of the target audience or the public

  • All gatherings in the city should not be banned in all public places and streets except certain places

The HRCM's statement on Thursday reiterated its call for expediting the work on the bill to repeal the amendment.