MNDF says it will answer to Parliament as an institution, not as individual officers

Armed military officers patrol the streets of Male' City. (Sun Photo/Mohamed Muzain Nazim)

Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) said on Thursday that holding individual officers answerable in reviews involving discharge of military duties is against military hierarchy, chain of command, command and control, as well as internal regulations, and that instead of having individual officers answer to the Parliament regarding discharge of duties, MNDF will answer to the Parliament as an institution.

MNDF announced the decision in a statement on Thursday evening regarding Parliament’s Security Services Committee’s inquiry into breach of Parliament Speaker, former President Mohamed Nasheed’s security in relation to the IED attack outside his private residence last May which left him severely wounded.

MNDF said it will provide its full cooperation and share information with the committee for its inquiry.

MNDF said that though the Constitution declares that any individual or institution may testify before the Parliament or parliamentary committees, Article 242 states that security services must be operated under the leadership of a Cabinet minister, who shall be accountable to the President and the Parliament regarding the affairs of the security service under their charge.

MNDF said that Article 17 of Military Act declares that all military personnel must answer for how they implement their legal powers and privileges and the discharge of their duties to the Chief of Defense Force with honesty and sincerity. The law also dictates that the Chief of Defense Force is answerable to the Defense Minister, who in turn, is answerable to the Commander-in-Chief and the Parliament.

“Divulging information gained in the discharge of official military duties to parties except those specified in Article 24 (c) of Military Act is an offense,” said MNDF in its statement.

MNDF said that having individual officers answerable may pose challenges to discharge of official military duties, and result in irrevocable damages to national security.

MNDF said that it should be answerable to the Parliament regarding duties and responsibilities of military officers as an institution, rather than as individual officers.

If the Parliament or a parliamentary committee wishes to obtain information regarding the discharge of duties by an individual officer for an inquiry, that information will be provided, said MNDF.

MNDF said there is no legal precedence to force MNDF to act in contravention of the policy, and that the decision was made in accordance with the recommendation of the Military Advisory Council on Accountability to the Parliament.