Amnesty accuses Maldives government of beatings and torture

Supporters of former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed clash with soldiers during a protest in Male on 1 September Troops and police are accused of using unnecessary force

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Security forces in the Maldives have increased attacks against peaceful demonstrators since the resignation of its first democratically elected president, Amnesty International says.

It accuses police of beatings, arbitrary detentions and torture.

The government of the Maldives has so far not commented on the report.

Rights groups also condemned a recent court ruling in which a teenaged girl was sentenced to a public flogging after confessing to pre-marital sex.

The unnamed teenager was convicted under Sharia law after her family complained that she had sex with a 29-year-old man in July.

The man was sentenced to 10 years in jail during a court hearing on Sunday.

Last year UN human rights chief Navi Pillay urged the Maldives to stop public floggings of women for having extra-marital or pre-marital sex.

Human Rights Watch has described the flogging sentence as a "degrading and inhuman punishment [which] should find no place in a democracy".

'Unnecessary force'

The Other Side of Paradise report, released by Amnesty on Wednesday, is based on interviews with numerous Maldivians about violence since February when former President Mohamed Nasheed was replaced by his deputy, Mohamed Waheed.

Those interviewed for the report include survivors of human rights violations and their families, lawyers, activists, medical professionals, security officials and senior politicians.

The rights group says that not a single criminal case has been filed before a court against any police officers for violations committed at that time.

Survivors told Amnesty that troops and police used unnecessary force and arbitrarily arrested and tortured them with impunity.

"The picture they paint is completely at odds with the tranquillity of the waters and scenic islands of this elegant archipelago," Amnesty said, accusing the authorities of failing to honour pledges made earlier this year to address human rights violations committed during and after the power transfer.

Mr Nasheed later declared that he had been the victim of a police mutiny in a military coup backed by Islamic extremists. Mr Waheed has rejected that version of events.

Last week a Commonwealth-backed report concluded there had been no coup, but noted serious problems with the rule of law in the country.

These included acts of brutality in February by police whose behaviour was frequently "out of control", it said.

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