It’s not that the police are the bad guys. It’s just that they piss us off sometimes with their bullshit. Most of the time, they are just trying to do their job. But sometimes doing their job does require them to bend some rules; and they can do this because we are so unaware of their bullshit and either scared shitless or furious at them and hence, easy to aggravate. Even though our rights are protected under the constitution, what few people understand, but police know all too well, is that your constitutional rights only apply if you understand and assert them.
The Maldivian Constitution states under Section 48 that everyone has the right on arrest or detention:
(a) to be informed immediately of the reasons therefore, and in writing within at least twenty four hours;
(b) to retain and instruct legal counsel without delay and to be informed of this right, and to have access to legal counsel facilitated until the conclusion of the matter for which he is under arrest or detention;
(c) to remain silent, except to establish identity, and to be informed of this right;
(d) to be brought within twenty four hours before a Judge, who has power to determine the validity of the detention, to release the person with or without conditions, or to order the continued detention of the accused.
Which basically means that whether the police officer is a friggin gorilla with a huge caveman bat, he still can’t touch you…unless you give him a good enough reason to. Good reason meaning something that is illegal under the Maldivian and Shariah Law. And they should have ‘reasonable’ proof that you did something like that to search or arrest you (Section 47.a). They CANNOT ask you anything more than your identity, which basically is your name, ID card number and your address. IF they do, all you need to ask is whether you are under arrest. If you are, ask why and then you can remain silent under section 48. (c) until you get a legal counsel. If you aren’t, than you can just push them over a cliff to die…kidding...i meant walk away. :D (but don’t be such a bitch about it and mock them while doing so…that’s just asking for trouble.. -_-)
One of the easiest ways to get in deep trouble is during residential searches. And most of the time, police officers don’t have valid reason for the search, but they can enter because YOU LET THEM. Under Section 47 b), Residential property shall be inviolable, and shall not be entered without the consent of the resident, except to prevent immediate and serious harm to life or property, or under the express authorization of an order of the Court. This means, they can come in to arrest a person (given they have an arrest warrant or ‘reasonable’ grounds to make the arrest, but they can’t search unless they have a search warrant or your consent. And during personal searches, the search has to be done by an officer of the same sex (and in private for through checking).Of course, if you have done something fucked up like kill someone or something, you are pretty much doomed because they will not require a warrant (and I’d rather not help you either… >.>)
And most importantly, if you do get arrested without any reason, there is Section 57 which states….*drum roll*… everyone who has been arrested or detained without legal authority or justification has the right to be compensated. Wohoo!! :D
P.s – WHAT is up with the whole ‘reasonable’ crap anyways??? O_o I couldn’t find any legal documents which dictate what is exactly ‘reasonable’ under the Maldivian constitution…. But according to the UK law it basically means there must be some basis for the officer to believe that you committed/are about to commit/are commiting a crime, (this must be a personal assumption, not a general one!) which can be considered and evaluated by an objective third person. Mere suspicion based on hunch or instinct might justify observation but cannot justify a search. So unless you start acting weird and twitchy, they can look but they can’t touch!
-Photo by A.G Photographe, Flickr.-