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CHRI expresses concern over police violence during May day rally in Maldives
The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has expressed concern over the allegations of police violence, brutality and arbitrary action during and after the anti-government rally held in Maldives on 1st and 2nd May 2015.
In release CHRI quoted various media reports, which say that the police used stun grenades, pepper spray and tear gas to control crowds at various points during the rally which caused injury to several protestors/bystanders.

As of writing, around 193 individuals, including opposition leaders, are reportedly arrested. Of these, around 175 people are being held in detention for 15 days at the Dhoonidhoo police custodial centre. Reports also allege use of abusive language, rough handling and assault of people while being arrested and while held in police custody.

"The reports once again point to serious concerns regarding police excesses. Freedom of assembly is a fundamental tenet of participatory democracy and it is the duty of the government as well as the police to take measures to ensure people are able to exercise their right in a peaceful and meaningful manner. Any action of the police in dealing with public gatherings must be strictly according to procedure established by law and must be held accountable. Allegations of excessive use of force must be investigated independently. Only then will Maldives move towards policing that is fair, non-discriminatory, lawful and efficient," said CHRI Director Maja Daruwala in a statement.

CHRI pointed out that freedom of assembly is a fundamental right guaranteed under the 2008 Constitution and protected through the Freedom of Peaceful Assembly Act 2013. The law specifically guarantees the right of protesters not to be detained or prosecuted merely for the act of taking part in a peaceful assembly (Section 20(g)).

CHRI strongly emphasised the importance of an independent investigation to determine the legality of police action during the May Day protests, whether these safeguards were followed or not.

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