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UA 155/19
Abgeschlossen am 2. Januar 2020

NGO shut down, staff at risk of attack

AI-Index: ASA 29/1381/2019

The Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) was permanently shut down by the authorities on 5 November 2019, in response to their 2015 report «Preliminary Assessment of Radicalization in the Maldives» which allegedly contained «content slandering Islam and the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH)». Subject to a social media smear campaign by religious hardliners, staff and members of MDN have faced alarming threats of violence, rape and even death against them. The Maldivian Government must uphold its obligations under international human rights law and ensure that human rights defenders, activists and civil society organizations are able to freely carry out their activities without the threats of violence, prosecution and repression.


The Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) is a non-partisan NGO that «promotes human rights» and the «values and principles of democracy». Its mandate includes raising awareness, monitoring human rights violations, and advocacy. The MDN’s reports over recent years have included research on police reforms, torture, threats to human rights defenders, threats to the right to freedom of expression, enforced disappearance, attacks on lawyers and other human rights issues. The MDN is one of the prominent NGOs speaking out against repression under former President Abdulla Yameen, who was voted out of office in November 2018. The new government, led by President Ibrahim Solih, includes former prisoners of conscience whose release Amnesty International and MDN campaigned for.

On 10 October 2019, the Maldivian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press release saying that it had temporarily suspended the operations of the MDN. In a press release, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs alleged that the content of the 2015 report, «Preliminary Assessment of Radicalization in the Maldives» contained «content slandering Islam and the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) ».

On 5 November 2019, the Maldivian Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment – which regulates the activities of NGOs - issued a press release saying that it had decided to shut down the operations of MDN altogether. The closure comes against the backdrop of threats to the MDN’s staff, including its director, Shahinda Ismail, from religious hardliners.

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