UN raises concerns following killing in Maldives

The United Nations has raised concerns following the murder of a social media activist in the Maldives, Yameen Rasheed.

Ravina Shamdasani, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rightssaid that the High Commissioner’s office is deeply alarmed by Rasheed’s killing and urged the authorities to ensure that the investigation into the murder is prompt, thorough and that the perpetrators are brought to justice in line with international human rights laws and standards.

On Sunday, 23 April, prominent blogger and social media activist in the Maldives, Yameen Rasheed, was found in the stairwell of his residence with multiple stab wounds to his head, neck and body. Rasheed died of his injuries.

Rasheed had in December reported to the Maldives Police Service that he was receiving targeted death threats following the publication of his photo along with those of others on an anonymous Facebook page but he complained that he had to follow up for three days just to get a confirmation that his complaint had been registered.

Rasheed was at the forefront of a campaign to seek justice for journalist Ahmed Rilwan, who disappeared in 2014 and is believed to have been abducted by radicalized criminal gangs.

Rasheed’s killing comes in the context of what appears to be an upsurge in arrests and prosecutions of the political opposition.

“We call on the authorities to take steps to remedy the shrinking space for exercise of the freedom of expression. We remind the State that it has a duty to ensure that journalists, civil society actors and human rights defenders are able to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and opinion without fear for their safety. Where such individuals have been explicitly threatened, the Government should take urgent measures to ensure their protection,” Shamdasani said. (Colombo Gazette)