EU concerned at gang violence and religious intolerance in Maldives

The EU delegation in Colombo and EU member states have noted concern at “mounting gang violence and signs of increasing religious intolerance” in the Maldives.

“The EU Heads of Mission, the Ambassador of Norway and the Charge d’Affaires a.i. of Switzerland are very concerned about the recent reports of attacks, intimidation and death threats faced by journalists, politicians, human rights campaigners and representatives of civil,” read a statement released today.

The offices of Minivan News were attacked last week, as were those of the Maldivian Democratic Party, and the homes of a number of MPs. Journalists have continued to receive death threats, warning against reporting on such activities.

The EU representatives, as well as the Embassies of Norway and Switzerland, today said that these instances were “contributing to a climate of growing fear in the Maldives and reducing the space for public discussion.”

It was also suggested that the ongoing legal action initiated by the Supreme Court against the Human Rights Commission of Maldives “risks undermining the independence of the HRCM, a key democratic institution”.

The Supreme Court’s suo moto case relates to the publication of a report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council earlier this month for its Universal Periodic Review on grounds that the compilation of and the content of the report was against procedures, and contained false information.

“In the interests of both the Maldives and the many visitors to the country, we call upon the Maldivian authorities to create a safe and enabling environment in which citizens and institutions can operate freely in full respect of their constitutional rights.”

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird yesterday expressed concern at the “deterioration” of the human rights situation in the Maldives while the US and UK have also noted their own concerns this month.

Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon has also condemned the recent attacks, reiterating the government’s commitment to an “environment that gives protection to media personnel to exercise their duties freely and responsibly.”