ICOM agrees with decision to withhold on Indian military personnel

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICOM) has determined that the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF)’s decision to withhold information on the number of Indian military personnel in the Maldives is correct.

Local news outlet Dhiyares under the Right to Information Act requested MNDF to disclose information regarding the number of Indian military personnel in the Maldives. However, MNDF refused to disclose the information citing threats to national security.

MNDF’s decision to withhold the information was then challenged at ICOM by the newspaper, and two hearings were held by ICOM in relation to the case. The first hearing was held behind closed doors between the Information Commissioner Hussain Fiyaz and officials from the Defense Ministry.

During the second hearing held Tuesday, MNDF said publicing the information requested by Dhiyares would pose a threat to national security, and could potentially hinder the relationship between Maldives and India. The Information Commissioner said the reasoning given by MNDF during the first hearing for withholding the information is legally acceptable. However, Dhiyares has the right to contest the decision at a higher court, said ICOM.