A coalition of civil society organisations has called for the Commission on Deaths and Disappearances (DDCom) to release its investigative findings before its impending dissolution. The NGOs urged President Dr Mohamed Muizzu and the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) to ensure the findings are disclosed to the victims’ families and the public by the end of this month.

In a joint statement, the NGOs emphasised the necessity of transparency and accountability. They criticised DDCom for failing to deliver justice in any of the cases it handled since its formation in November 2018. Initially, DDCom had assured the public that all investigations would be completed within two years, but five and a half years later, justice remains elusive for the families of over 20 victims.

The statement highlighted the plight of the families of blogger Yameen Rasheed, who was murdered in 2017, and journalist Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla, who was forcibly disappeared in 2014 and later confirmed dead by DDCom in 2019. Both men were vocal critics of the government and opponents of violent extremism. Their families, along with others, have been advocating for the release of DDCom’s findings and swift justice.

“We call on the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives to intervene in this grave matter and ensure the families are provided with the findings of the DDCom investigations,” the statement read.

The NGOs noted that the DDCom had used public resources and international aid for over five years without achieving any convictions. They urged transparency in how these funds were utilised and questioned the lack of successful prosecutions. Between 2018 and 2021, DDCom’s expenditure was nearly MVR 5.5 million (approximately USD 357,000).

The joint statement also criticised DDCom for a recent decision not to disclose its findings, allegedly under orders from the President’s Office. The NGOs and victims’ families had previously agreed to redacted reports to protect witnesses, and they view the withholding of findings as a violation of human rights.

“It was implied to us that a redacted report will be shared with the affected families. The last-minute decision not to do so is unacceptable. It is our only avenue for justice,” said Aishath Rasheed, sister of Yameen Rasheed.

The signatories of the statement include the Association for Democracy in the Maldives (ADM), Transparency Maldives (TM), We Are Yaamyn, Project Zinmaadhaaru, Zero Waste Maldives, Maldives Journalists Association (MJA), International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Human Rights Watch (HRW), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

The NGOs urged President Muizzu to honour his electoral promises of transparent and accountable governance and to ensure that DDCom’s findings are made public.