Canada is appalled by the Maldives’ prosecution of former President Mohamed Nasheed on terrorism charges, Parliamentary Secretary Deepak Obhrai has said in a statement on Wednesday.
“This verdict goes against the core principles of the Commonwealth, and Canada will continue to call on Maldives to reaffirm its commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law,” the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs for International Human Rights said.
Nasheed was convicted of terrorism and sentenced to 13 years in jail over the military’s detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in 2012.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and UN Special Rapporteur for Independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul last week condemned the apparent lack of due process in Nasheed’s trial.
The rushed trial was marred with several irregularities, including the Criminal Court’s refusal to call defence witnesses, grant Nasheed adequate time to prepare defence and appoint new legal representation when his lawyers resigned half-way through the trial.
“The manner in which the trial was conducted infringes basic and fundamental concepts of due process. The result brings Maldives’ justice system into disrepute and is symptomatic of backsliding in Maldives’ commitment to domestic and international human rights obligations and democratic principles, which is causing growing tensions in the country,” Obhrai said.
President Abdulla Yameen on March 15 called on all parties to respect the Criminal Court’s verdict against Nasheed.
“The government calls on its international partners to engage constructively, based on mutual respect and dialogue in consolidating and strengthening democratic values and institutions in the country,” read the brief statement.
On February 24, Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon blasted a February 23 Canadian statement expressing concern over Nasheed’s arrest ahead of the surprise trial.
At the time, Canadian Foreign Minister Rob Nicholson said “the brutal and unjustified treatment of the former president call into question Maldives’ commitment to due process and democratic principles.
Dunya dismissed Nicholson’s statement as “blatantly untrue,” adding: “I don’t think they know what actually is happening here.”