PG withdraws charges against Nasheed

Charges against former President Mohamed Nasheed for the 2012 detention of Criminal Court Chief Justice Abdulla Mohamed have been withdrawn.

The Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office has withdrawn the case against both Nasheed and senior figures of his government – including the current defence minister Moosa Ali Jaleel, says media reports.

Speaking to Vnews during a protest outside the High Court hearing of former defense minister Mohamed Nazim this afternoon, Nasheed said that it was regrettable the case had dragged on so long.

Details of the decision will be revealed by the PG’s information officer, who was understood to be in the court at the time of publication. Nasheed’s legal team has said a statement will follow its own discussions with the PG.

Under the powers granted in the Prosecutor General’s Act and the Constitution, the PG has the authority to discontinue or withdraw for further review any case prior to judgement.

Nasheed and Jaleel stood accused of violating Article 81 of the Penal Code, for detaining a government employee who has not been found guilty of a crime.

Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party had suggested that the case was being expedited ahead of the introduction of the new Penal Code in April, with the potential three year sentence meaning that conviction would have ruled out a Nasheed presidential run in 2018.

The former president’s legal team had been in the process of challenging the assembly of the Hulhumalé Magistrates’ Court bench.

Abdulla Mohamed’s detention in January 2012 followed the failure of repeated attempts to investigate the judge’s conduct, with Nasheed citing grounds of national security.

The judge’s arrest by security forces led to an increase in tension on the streets of the capital, culminating in Nasheed’s resignation on February 7 after elements of the police and Maldives National Defence Force refused to obey his orders.

The Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) report – released in August 2012 – found that the arrest had been “unconstitutional” and “illegal”, while the PG filed charges the previous June.

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Amnesty to investigate reports of Nazim’s “arbitrary” detention

Amnesty International have announced they will be looking into the detention of former defence minister Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim.

“Amnesty International is investigating reports of arbitrary arrest of former defence minister, Mohamed Nazim, and his detention condition,” tweeted the NGO’s South Asia Specialist Abbas Faiz.

Nazim was arrested on February 10 and remanded in police custody for 15 days on charge related to illegal weapons allegedly discovered in his home on January 18.

A police statement issued the following day claimed to have found documents in a pen drive confiscated from Nazim’s house during a midnight raid on January 18 suggesting he “was plotting to physically harm senior Maldivian state officials.”

“In addition, police intelligence has received information that he was plotting with various parties to overthrow the government,” the statement read.

Nazim’s legal team have claimed that the pistol, ammunition, and explosive device found in the former minister’s home were planted by investigating officers – claims the police have denied.

After his dismissal two days after the police raid, Nazim suggested that no Maldivian could be assured of safety.

Both the president of the religious conservative Adhaalath Party and the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have expressed similar concern in recent days.

“It is very likely that in the near future many others like Nazim will be thrown into jail cells like him,” read a tweet from Sheikh Imran Abdulla yesterday, followed by the ‘justicefornazim’ hashtag.

Similarly, MDP Chairman Ali Waheed told crowds at an opposition rally this weekend that Nazim’s sudden fall was a concern.

“The day before yesterday the defense minister was hailed and deemed trustworthy. Now he is in a jail cell accused of crimes of a magnitude never seen before in Maldives,” said Waheed.

Deputy Leader of the Jumhooree Party Ameen Ibrahim also noted that the public must be 100 percent assured of the former defence minister’s safety.

Last month, Amnesty published a report to be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council which argued that the human rights situation has deteriorated in the Maldives over the past four years.

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Opposition street demonstrations head into third consecutive night

Additional reporting by Mohamed Saif Fathih and Ismail Humaam Hamid

The opposition coalition will hold a third consecutive night of protest in the capital Malé tonight (February 14).

After hundreds gathered on the corner of Fareedhee Magu on Thursday and Friday nights, protesters and speakers called for President Abdulla Yameen’s resignation.

Criticism of the recent arrest of defence minister Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim by speakers at this weekend’s protests was joined by further support for the minister from the religious conservative Adhaalath Party.

Despite a strong police presence on both nights, there was little unrest and no arrests, with police spokesmen describing the demonstrations as peaceful.

After previous support from party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla following Nazim’s arrest on charges of plotting a coup last week, Imran yesterday suggested no one was safe from arbitrary arrest.

“It is very likely that in the near future many others like Nazim will be thrown into jail cells like him,” read a tweet from Imran yesterday, followed by the ‘justicefornazim’ hashtag.

While the party is not officially part of the ruling Progressive Coalition, the Islamic ministry is headed by party member Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, and has so far rejected overtures to join the opposition’s campaign to ‘defend the constitution’.

“By saying that Adhaalath Party supports the current government, we do not mean that we agree with all their actions,” read another tweet from the party president earlier this week.

Adhaalath spokesman Ali Zahir – who recently joined Nazim’s legal team – was not responding to calls at the time of publication.

Speaking at Thursday night’s rally, MDP Chairman Ali Waheed suggested that the government was removing all internal opponents, one minister at a time.

“The day before yesterday the defense minister was hailed and deemed trustworthy. Now he is in a jail cell accused of crimes of a magnitude never seen before in Maldives,” said Waheed.

Nazim’s lawyers have suggested that weapons police claim to have found in his home on January 18 were planted. Police last week claimed to have found evidence the minister “was plotting to physically harm senior Maldivian state officials” on a pen-drive obtained during the search.

Waheed suggested on Thursday evening that dismissals from within the police were imminent, while JP leader Gasim told crowds that further splits within the ruling party would soon result in the defection of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MPs to the opposition.

During yesterday’s protest, MDP MP Rozaina Adam reportedly described the country as having “Stockholm syndrome”, referring to what she described as society’s apathy in the face of government oppression.

Maamigili MP Gasim also blamed the president for the current difficulties being faced by educational institutions involved in land disputes with the government, which has prompted fears that courses will be disrupted.

“We do not have to ask anybody to resign,” Gasim told the crowds. “According to the CoNI report this govt does not have legitimacy. I call on relevant institutions to assume the responsibilities of presidency accordingly”.

Opposition leaders have suggested the withdrawal of Gasim’s JP from the governing coalition mirrors the circumstances described in the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) report into the controversial resignation of MDP leader Mohamed Nasheed from the presidency in 2012.

The report suggested that Nasheed’s government had lost legitimacy after coalition partners pulled out in the early stages of his administration.

Gasim himself was one of those who left the governing coalition in 2012, subsequently spearheading anti-government protests before rising tension led to a resignation Nasheed maintains was given under duress.

The CoNI report also pointed out that the MDP never enjoyed a clear majority in the 17th Majlis, a problem not currently shared by the Progressive Coalition, which has 49 seats in the house – with 11 members having switched to the PPM since last year’s polls.

Nasheed has argued that a succession of failed coalitions suggests the country should adopt a parliamentary system – previously rejected in a 2007 referendum.

While PPM spokesmen were not responding to calls at the time of publication, the President’s Office said it had no comments to make on the rise in street activity.

Related to this story

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India rejects “baseless” media claims regarding defence cooperation

The Indian High Commission in Malé has issued a press release seeking to clarify what it argues are “baseless claims” in media reports regarding bilateral cooperation on defence.

“The High Commission of India notes with concern recent media reports about India-Maldives defence and security co-operation and other issues containing blatantly false information,” read this morning’s statement.

It follows a number of stories in Maldivian media which suggested India had refused to train Maldivians to pilot the helicopters, donated to the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) in 2010 and 2013 .

It was also reported that the Indian pilots who currently man the Kurangi helicopter (meaning frigate-bird in Dhivehi) had conducted unauthorised flights.

Kurangi is currently stationed at Gan International Airport in the southernmost Seenu Atoll. The aircraft is intended for use for search and rescue operations and surveillance within the Maldives exclusive economic zone.

“The Indian crew members, who provide technical support, are under the operational control of MNDF and can fly Kurangi only on authorisation by MNDF,” said the Indian High Commission.

“Hence, the accusations made in media reports that the crew of Kurangi flew across some areas of Maldives without orders are totally baseless and completely false.”

Maldivian news outlets had attempted to link alleged requests for more Indian pilots – for the second helicopter, currently still in India – to accusations of an attempted coup by former defence minister Mohamed Nazim.

The High Commission said today that the second helicopter – accepted by Nazim during an official visit in December 2013 – has been painted in Maldivian colours and is awaiting the establishment of necessary infrastructure.

In the months prior to his dismissal and subsequent arrest, Nazim had announced his intention to convert Kadhdhoo Airport in Laamu Atoll to a military facility.

Suggestions that Maldivians had not been given the opportunity to operate the helicopter in Gan were also rejected by Indian officials today, as were claims that no Maldivian officers were being trained.

“It has been India’s constant endeavour to ensure that Maldives is self-sufficient in operating these assets gifted by India and towards this end several training programs are offered for Maldivian defence personnel in India.”

Today’s statement explained that one flight engineer and one technician from the MNDF had completed ALH training in November 2014, while two more slots had been offered for 2015.

“In the preceding year, around 150 MNDF officers were trained in various defence institutions and colleges in India. Capacity building has been a key area of co-operation in India-Maldives bilateral relationship,” read the statement.

MNDF spokesmen were not responding to calls at the time of publication.

Today’s statement marks the second time in recent months that the High Commission has moved to correct reports regarding its affairs, with a press release in November denying suggestions made in the People’s Majlis that India had discussed joining China’s Maritime Silk Road project.

The ruling Progressive Part of Maldives subsequently blamed the opposition and associated media outlets for the confusion over the silk route issue.

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Are politics returning to the streets of Malé?

Additional reporting by Ismail Humaam Hamid and Mohamed Saif Fathih

Over a hundred protesters gathered outside the Civil Court by the market in Malé this afternoon, as former President Mohamed Nasheed continued a legal campaign that stretches into its third year.

Inside, the Civil Court agreed to consider the challenge – rejected by the High Court earlier this week – into the legitimacy of the bench tasked with trying Nasheed for the January 2012 detention of Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

Tussles between police and protesters hinted at a return to the tension that became commonplace in the capital in the months before and after Nasheed’s controversial resignation from office just weeks after the judge’s arrest.

“The process that we saw in 2012. That appears to be happening this time,” suggested Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Spokesman Hamid Abdul Ghafoor from the protest today.

“We are certainly trying to wake up people to what is going on and it is our wish to inform people what will happen if we do not act,” he explained over the shouts of demonstrators.

Rising tensions on the streets in 2012 eventually saw security personnel turn on Nasheed’s government, with the MDP leader alleging his subsequent resignation was under duress.

Nasheed earlier this week called upon the people of the country to protest against their failed judicial system while party Chair Ali Waheed said today that the party would begin daily protests to defend the Constitution against persistent breaches.

Others, however, have suggested that the large scale anti-government demonstrations seen three years ago will not be repeated in 2015.

“We really don’t think that the past is going to come back,” said Ismail Asif of the Maldives National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI). “The economy is picking up. People want to move on.”

Following the resurgence of street demonstrations since the decision of the formerly government-aligned Jumhooree Party (JP) with the MDP, the MNCCI called on authorities to stop such activities which might hinder local business.

Police attempts to clear a space from the space outside the court today saw protesters pushed into the market itself.

“We don’t feel that part of a democracy means any party should be allowed to block the streets,” said Asif.

He suggested that recent attendances at street demonstrations indicated that people preferred to go through the system, though he admitted the MDP leader Nasheed would still be able to draw large crowds.

The MDP’s Hamid said that the party intends to utilise both approaches, with “organised and sustained” direct action as well as efforts, via its new parliamentary alliance, to secure JP leader Gasim Ibrahim as Majlis speaker.

“We are trying to convince the public that if we do not take action now, we may not get another chance,” said Hamid.

The party sees the resumption of legal action against Nasheed as part of a wider move by the government to remove potential challengers to President Abdulla Yameen.

While government-sponsored amendments to the Constitution could disqualify JP leader Gasim on grounds of age, former defence minister Mohamed Nazim – himself a key player in events leading to Nasheed’s resignation – faces further charges of fomenting a coup, this time from the current government.

JP MP and former Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz – who stood alongside Nazim on the day of Nasheed’s resignation – has called the charges against Nazim “purely political” in nature, suggesting the police were attempting to frame the former minister.

During today’s demonstrations, MDP Chair Waheed said the party would be willing to work with its “political enemies” in order to defend the Constitution.

“People you would not expect to see  on one platform will be seen together on February 27,” he claimed before dispersing today’s protest.

Hamid also explained that no one who wished to work with the opposition party would be turned away.

“We do not agree with how he [Nazim] has acted, but justice and rule of law should prevail. He has the right to due process,” he said.

Nasheed himself fears that the expedition of his case – which his party predicts will be pushed through before the introduction of the new Penal Code in April – will see him forced to campaign far from the streets of the capital.

“I will be even more active from block C of Maafushi Jail,” he told party colleagues this week.


Rubeena’s mother travels to Malé as campaign grows in Kerala

The mother of Indian national Rubeena Buruhanudeen will travel to the Maldives where she will attempt to visit her daughter, who has been held in pre-trial detention for four and a half years.

Shafeeqa Beevi has asked Maldivian authorities permission to visit her 30-year-old daughter, who faces charges of infanticide and attempted suicide after the death of her ten-month-old son in 2010.

Despite local lawyers taking up Rubeena’s case in 2012, it has remained stalled, with the last scheduled hearing in December delayed as the court requested to hear from the doctor who initially examined the child’s body.

Her lawyers are seeking an additional hearing to claim their client’s diminished responsibility.

Meanwhile, a campaign to secure her release is gaining momentum in her home state of Kerala, with over 8,000 people having signed the ‘Save Rubeena’ petition, calling for the intervention of authorities in the case.

The petition is to be delivered to the Indian High Commission in Maldives, and the Chief minister of Kerala, Oommen Chandy – who has already met with Rubeena’s parents, promising action.

India’s Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj was handed the petition on Sunday (February 8), explained Anupama Mili, a journalist for the New Indian Express who is helping with the campaign.

“There is already an online campaign started on Facebook ‘Save Rubeena’. This is followed by the miraculous escape of another Indian, Jayachandran Mokeri, recently from Maldives,” explained Anupama.

Jayachandran had been imprisoned for 8 months on what he claimed were false child abuse charges, before being released on December 25 after the case became publicised through Indian media.

“His friends and relatives started the group ‘Save Jayachandran Mokeri’ in Facebook and started campaigning for him in all levels including media, bureaucracy, different political parties and even religious and business leaders,” said Anupama.

The same group is now campaigning for justice in a number of cases involving Keralites incarcerated in the Maldives, converting the Jayachandran Facebook page for the ‘Save Rubeena’ campaign.

“After [Jayachandran’s] return, he told me about many other Keralites with more or less similar plight,” she added. “I gave the report in my paper, and hit headlines here.”

Shafeeqa Beevi has not seen her daughter in five years

Renewed hope

Jayachandran has claimed he came into contact with around 21 Indian nationals while in Dhoonidhoo detention centre, though statistics provided to Minivan News by the Maldives Correctional Services show only seven Indian nationals – all male – being held in the country.

The New Indian Express has today reported that Kerala’s social justice minister Dr M.K. Muneer will seek the support of the External Affairs Ministry to keep better records and to offer assistance to Keralites detained abroad.

The case has also sparked debate in India over the practice of poor girls from Kerala being sold off to foreign nationals in return for money, with Rubeena’s mother saying her new husband had cleared the family’s crippling debts as part of the arrangement. He has since divorced her during her incarceration.

In an interview republished in Minivan News yesterday, Shafeeqa recalled the deterioration of her daughter’s marriage, and the confusion surrounding her grandson’s death.

Sources close to Rubeena’s case have learned that she confessed to the killing before having received any legal assistance, and has since said she was heavily medicated at the time of her child’s death, with only a vague recollection of events.

Shafeeqa also explained the renewed hope the campaign had given her after four years without progress.

“It was after the release of Jayachandran master, I renewed my hope. He had met Rubeena in jail and she had given him my number.”

“I had completely lost my hope. But now, things are apparently changing. My hope has been restored. Many people who have never seen me or are even connected to me are trying to bring my daughter out of that prison.”

The Kerala campaigners have also taken up the cause of Indian National Nabeesa Beevi, who had been left stranded in the Maldives after death of her husband last year.

Nabeesa – left partially paralysed, reportedly after complications during a caesarean birth – was returned to India yesterday (January 9) after social justice minister Muneer informed the Indian High Commission in Malé that Kerala state would be willing to pay for her care.

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Gasim defiant as opposition sign agreement to defend Constitution

Opposition leaders have attacked the leadership of President Abdulla Yameen as the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Jumhooree Party (JP) officially signed an agreement to defend the Constitution.

“It is becoming too apparent that President Yameen is headed towards establishing a dictatorial rule,” said former President Mohamed Nasheed at the signing ceremony in Malé’s carnival area on Thursday evening.

JP leader Gasim, meanwhile, railed against persistent attacks on his business interests as more reports emerged of setbacks to the Maamigili MP’s personal investments.

“President Maumoon [Abdul Gayoom] can laugh but tell me which part of the Constitution allows the state to seize people’s property and businesses unfairly and unjustly, without even compensation?”

Former President Gayoom last week suggested that talk of defending the country’s Constitution made him laugh, arguing that the current government has not violated the document.

The opposition has accused Yameen’s administration of breaching the Constitution, in particular through the removal of the auditor general and two Supreme Court judges late last year.

The live feed to Thursday’s ceremony- supplied by Gasim’s VTV – was cut prior to the event, with reports that the cable had been vandalised. The transmission was subsequently provided via the MDP-aligned Raajje TV.

Home Minister Umar Naseer has this afternoon (February 7) announced his decision to leave the JP as result of the party’s “new course”.

Gasim defiant

Former Yameen ally Gasim challenged his opponents to take his assets, suggesting the government had no legitimacy following the withdrawal from the Progressive Coalition.

“You were elected with my support. I can guarantee you that you will not receive 51 percent of Maldivian votes. Forget it.”

Gasim’s eventual support for the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate Yameen – a decision his party said had been made democratically by its council at the time – tipped the balance in the much-delayed 2013 presidential poll.

The JP’s national council officially announced the end of its alliance with the PPM last month – in effect defunct since Gasim’s decision to stand for Majlis Speaker in May – handing its leader the authority to strike an alliance with the MDP.

The JP’s opposition to key government legislation last year saw Gasim receive setbacks to his businesses, as well as physical threats against his person – both of which the party blamed on Gasim’s former political allies.

“You can seize everything, take it. Take it. After all, things can only be taken from people who have them,” he told those at Thursday night’s rally.

“Yameen, do not think that a well-built man can come and shoot me with a gun. No, No, No. I am not afraid even one bit.”

Former President Nasheed also addressed those present – including senior representatives from both parties.

Nasheed reiterated suggestions that the repeated failure of governing coalitions demonstrated that a parliamentary system was required for the Maldives.

“The Maldivian people want a parliamentary system of governance, a system without a president who is too powerful, a system in which a coalition of political parties can govern,” said Nasheed.

In a 2007 referendum, approximately 62 percent of the public backed the presidential form of governance ahead of the country’s first multi-party elections.

At the time, both the MDP and President Yameen’s former party, the Progressive Alliance, supported the parliamentary system, while then President Gayoom supported a presidential system.

Nasheed’s own electoral coalition – which included Gasim’s JP – fell apart soon after his 2008 election, with the subsequent anti-government alliance forcing his resignation in February, 2012.

The agreement

Thursday night’s rally saw the distribution of the agreement, which pledges to “defend the spirit of the Constitution and do everything necessary to guarantee the rule of law”.

The agreement pledges to prevent the passing of any propositions in the People’s Majlis against the letter or the spirit of the Constitution, both inside and outside of the Majlis.

Together, the two parties control 34 seats in the 85-seat legislature, although MDP internal party discipline had been a decisive issue in recent votes – most notably in December’s vote to remove Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and Justice Muthasim Adnan.

The agreement pledges that the parties will cooperate to hold the government accountable for Constitutional breaches, as well as working to defend those subjected to intimidation by the authorities.

Signatories to the agreement pledged to: “investigate and cooperate to bring an end to Government intimidation against the general public, journalists, state owned companies, employees, business leaders, youth, independent institutions, and politicians”.

To these ends, the parties agreed to form an Inter-Party Commission and a joint parliamentary committee within ten days,

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Avaaz petition urges government to find those behind Rilwan’s disappearance

Social activist website Avaaz has called upon President Abdulla Yameen and his foreign minister Dunya Maumoon to identify those involved in the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan.

“We call on you to ensure a thorough investigation into the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan and bring to justice all those involved in his alleged abduction,” read the petition launched this week.

Avaaz – which means ‘voice’ in various languages – is urging Maldivian authorities to protect free speech in the Maldives and to address the threat of violent extremism.

A private investigation into the 29-year-old’s disappearance implicated radicalised gangs, while – despite a lack of progress in the search – the home minister has acknowledged gang involvement.

Avaaz campaigns in 15 different languages, claims over 40 million members in 194 countries, and has been described as the “globe’s largest and most powerful online activist network” by the UK’s Guardian newspaper.

Rilwan’s brother Moosa told the organisation that he had turned to them after fearing that Maldivian authorities were doing nothing to aid the search.

“Rilwan was a brave journalist who exposed the dangerous Islamic radicals operating in these paradise islands and who had issued many death threats to my brother. But many of these extremists have links with ruling politicians and that’s why the police are not moving on Rilwan’s case,” suggested Rilwan.

Similarly, speaking with Minivan News on the occasion of Rilwan’s 29th birthday last month, his mother Aminath Easa said she was convinced her son was a victim of a coordinated abduction.

“The police will look for him and find him if their superiors order them to do so. I believe government officials are complicit in this case,” said Easa, aged 67.

Friends and family of Rilwan take part in the second 'Suvaalu March' on January 8

International pressure

After suggesting opposition groups, friends, and family of the journalist were obstructing the investigation, authorities have assured that the search continues six months after Rilwan was last seen at the Hulhumalé ferry terminal – shortly before witnesses reported a man being forced into a car outside of Rilwan’s apartment.

Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed told the media last month that the search was continuing without “interruption or boredom”, though he declined from revealing specifics, saying that information previously circulated by sources had “cast a shadow over our work”.

While foreign minister Dunya has previously spoken out about the case, noting the importance of protecting free speech, President Yameen has yet to comment on the matter beyond a brief remark made shortly after the disappearance.

Rilwan’s brother told Avaaz that international pressure was the only thing that would make the authorities act, noting the country’s heavy reliance on the billion dollar tourism industry.

“This Sunday [January 8] it will be 6 months since Rilwan disappeared. When we get to 50,000 signatures, Avaaz will take out ‘Missing person’ ads in major Maldivian newspapers and launch a massive media awareness campaign on the extremism and corruption in my beautiful islands,” said Moosa.

“Please join my family’s search for Rilwan.”

Avaaz previously launched a Maldives campaign in March 2013, calling for the flogging sentence given to a 15-year-old rape victim to be rescinded.

After 2 million people signed the petition, the High Court overturned the sentence in August 2013.

Deputy Minister of Tourism at the time of the first petition Mohamed Maleeh Jamal – now minister of youth and sports – called the campaign’s motive “dubious”.

Meanwhile, then President Dr Mohamed Waheed – to whom the petition was addressed – thanked the international community for its concern but warned against calls for a tourism boycott.

In response, Avaaz Executive Director Ricken Patel denied a boycott had been called for, suggesting that tourists had the right to know the issues of countries they intend to visit.

“Around the world people are interested (and have a right to know) what kind of systems they’re supporting with their tourism dollars, and to make their holiday decisions accordingly,” said Patel.

Sign the petition here


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Transparency reviews the Majlis in 2014

Transparency Maldives has published its 2014 Majlis review, reporting that 10 bills were passed in 59 sittings of the 18th People’s Majlis.

Of the 85 members elected to the expanded parliament in March, only 16 have had a flawless attendance record since, with an overall attendance figure of 90 percent.

The members from the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had the worst average attendance of the three main parties – 85 percent, compared with the Jumhooree Party’s (JP) 91 percent and the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives’ (PPM) 93 percent.

It was the Maldivian Development Alliance leader, and Progressive Coalition member, Ahmed ‘Sun Travel’ Shiyam who had the worst attendance of any MP, appearing at less than half the sessions, reported Transparency.

Other than the Adhaalath Party, for whom Makunudhoo MP Anara Naeem is the only MP, Siyam’s MDA was the only party whose representation in the 18th Majlis has remained stable.

Despite winning 33 seats in the March polls, the PPM has now gained an additional 11 MPs, while its former ally the JP has a net loss of 2 seats.

After winning a disappointing 26 seats in the house, the MDP lost 4 MPs to opposition parties as well as expelling Majlis Deputy Speaker ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik from the party.


The most important legislative changes brought by the Majlis in 2014 were the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act, the new Penal Code, the Special Economic Zone Act, and amendments to the Judicature Act.

The report describes the benefit of the money-laundering bill as preventing terrorism financing, kleptocracy, narco-trafficking, human trafficking, illicit arms trafficking, counterfeiting currency, corruption, and transnational organised crimes.

“Money laundering has potentially destructive social and economic consequences. It allows criminals such as drug traffickers, corrupt officials, and transnational organised crime syndicates to introduce illicit proceeds or ‘dirty money’ into legitimate finance streams as legal funds,” explained the anti-corruption NGO.

The new penal code – to be introduced in April this year – represents the culmination of 10 years’ work and will replace an old code that has been described by legal experts as obstructing the course of justice due to its “outdated” nature, read the review.

“In April 2004, the new penal code was finally passed, making it the first modern, comprehensive penal code in the world to incorporate the major tenets and principles of Islamic law.”

Parliamentary group attendance

The report described the government’s flagship Special Economic Zones Act as laying “an edifice for economic, industrial, social, financial and infrastructural development.”

“It allows economic activities to be carried out under a relatively liberal manner through tax exemptions to investors and developers.”

Despite the promise of major ‘transformative’ investment – yet to be realised, the opposition has argued that the bill will “allow the government to conduct transactions broadly with no transparency and no opportunity for oversight, as a result of which the possibility of losing the country’s independence and sovereignty would be high”.

The SEZ was passed in August in the face of 300 proposed MDP amendments.

Appointments and dismissals

Regarding the changes to the Judicature Act – which facilitated the removal of two Supreme Court judges – Transparency’s report pointed out its previous concerns over the “political influence on the judiciary in the Maldives”.

Amendments requiring the reduction of the bench from seven to five in December saw the JSC swiftly select Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and Justice Muthasim Adnan in a decision marked for its lack of transparency.

The Majlis’ subsequent approval of the pair’s dismissal was described as a “black day for the constitution” by Faiz, while UN Special Rapporteur Gabriella Knaul predicted a “chilling effect” on the work of the judiciary.

Finally, the review of the Majlis’ work for 2014 noted the appointment of a number of key figures, including Prosecutor General Muhuthaz Muhsin – appointed after political wrangling saw the constitutionally mandated deadline for filling the position missed by six months.

After the Supreme Court removed the Elections Commission’s senior leadership less than a month before the Majlis elections, MPs appointed Mohamed Shakeel and Ahmed Sulaiman to the commission in November. They were also joined by Ismail Habeeb Abdul Raheem and Amjad Musthafa in receiving Majlis approval.

The Majlis appointment of President Abdulla Yameen’s nomination of Hassan Ziyath as the new auditor general in November was also a source of controversy, with outgoing auditor general Niyaz Ibrahim arguing that his removal had been unconstitutional.

Niyaz was ousted as a result of last minute changes to the Auditor General’s Act, proposed to the the Majlis by the PPM on the same day the audit office published a report implicating tourism minister and deputy PPM leader Ahmed Adeeb in a US$6 million corruption scandal.

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