Commission on Disappearances and Deaths (DDCom) has stated today that they were working on formulating a witness protection program for witnesses who testify in criminal cases.
In a statement released by DDCom, they stressed that they were working very hard to ensure justice is served in the case of Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla, a journalist who was working for Minivan News (later renamed Maldives Independent) that had disappeared without a trace in 2014. They also added that they were collaborating with the Police and foreign experts to further enhance the quality of their work.
In line with this, DDCom noted that they were working on formulating a witness protection program – citing that many individuals who have information regarding the disappearance and death of Rilwan have been hesitant to come forward with what they know.
“DDCom is working to formulate a witness protection program in collaboration with the relevant government authorities and with the assistance of foreign experts,” the statement had read.
DDCom further detailed that the witness protection program will be formulated in a way it best suits the Maldives after analyzing the social, religious, political and population status.
While a bill on witness protection which stipulates the rules on witness protection was submitted to the parliament in 2017 – it has yet to be passed.
The bill details that in a circumstance where a danger posed to a witness is taken note by him or her, the witness must inform the Prosecutor General’s Office in order to ensure his or her safety.
In a case where it is taken note of by the Court, the Court was to be vested the power to order the Police and other relevant government authorities to ensure the protection of the witness – with details as to how.
Today marks the 7th year since the disappearance of Rilwan.
Rilwan, 28, a journalist at Maldives Independent, was last seen on August 8, 2014. He is believed to have been abducted and murdered.
He was last seen boarding a ferry to suburban Hulhumale’ wearing a black shirt and pants and carrying a backpack.
No trace of him has been found since.
Preliminary investigative findings by DDCom show Rilwan was abducted and murdered. He was forced into a car while on his way to his apartment in Hulhumale’, forced on a boat registered to AA. Ukulhas, and killed and thrown overboard.
DDCom links the case with a group of Maldivian extremists affiliated with an international terrorist organization.