Police have apologised after arresting a bikini-clad British tourist in the Maldives saying the ordeal was “badly handled”.
Footage emerged of at least three officers arresting the woman – who is screaming in a British accent, “You are sexually assaulting me” – while police struggle to handcuff her and cover her with a towel.
The arrest happened on the island of Maafushi in the Kaafu Atoll.
Maldives Police Service Commissioner Mohamed Hameed issued the apology on Twitter, adding the matter was being investigated.
“Incident in Maafushi in which our officers restrained a female tourist seems to be badly handled,” the tweet says.
“I apologise to the tourist and the public for this. The challenge I have taken up is to professionalise the police service and we are working on that.”
Commissioner Hameed then retweeted a press statement issued by the Maldives Police Service, which reveals officers responded to the incident after receiving a complaint from a member of the public about the female tourist “who was inappropriately clad and alleged to have been inebriated”.
“Tourists on local island are requested to respect the community’s cultural sensitivities and local regulations by restricting the wearing of swimwear to certain areas of the island where local communities live,” the statement reads.
The statement alleges the woman refused to comply with “local regulations” when the three officers approached her, further alleging she “showed resistance”.
Incident in Maafushi in which our officers restrained a female tourist seems to be badly handled. I apologise to the tourist & the public for this. The challenge I have taken up is to professionalise the police service & we are working on that. This matter is being investigated.— Mohamed Hameed (@M_Hameedh) February 6, 2020
The statement confirms the ordeal happened about 5.45pm (local time) and the woman was detained at Maafushi Police Station, where she was released at 7.10pm that night without being charged.
The statement also apologises to the tourist and the public for the “regretful manner in which this incident took place”, explaining how the police would move forward to ensure a similar incident did not happen again.
“A full inquiry has been initiated to ensure that disproportionate measures are not implemented in such situations and assure the public and thee family that action will be taken against any violations following the findings of the inquiry.”
Press Statement: PMC/2020/05 regarding the incident that occurred between a tourist and police at Maafushi island on 6th of February 2020.#MPSPressStatement#FuluhungeNoosBayaan#MPSNoosBayaan pic.twitter.com/JWpy35emUj— Maldives Police (@PoliceMv) February 7, 2020
On Twitter, one man who shared the video said tourists need to be informed about local customs surrounding swimsuits, saying bikinis are only permitted on the “resort island beaches”.
In response to the police commissioner’s statement, one person said it was up to the tourism industry to “regulate”.
The Government of Maldives Ministry of Tourism has also issued a statement regarding the arrest, echoing the police’s statement, labelling the conduct of local police as “unprofessional”.
“It is important that all foreign guests visiting the country comply with the local rules and regulations and respect the cultural sensitivities of the country,” the statement reads.
Ministry’s Press Release regarding incidents on 4th and 6th February 2020 pic.twitter.com/DGka1Llo0c— Ministry of Tourism (@MoTmv) February 7, 2020
“The Ministry considers the safety and security of tourists to be of the highest priority and will take all the steps necessary to combat any acts that threaten the security and welfare of tourists and members of the public.”
Local news service Raajje.mv reported while Maafushi was a popular tourist location, wearing bikinis was "strictly prohibited" on local islands.
It is, however, permitted in holiday resorts.
– With AAP
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