Past human rights violations ‘most difficult challenge faced’, says President

President Mohamed Nasheed has claimed that dealing with past human rights violations is one of the most difficult issues currently confronted by the government.

In a letter to the new Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, the president said the Maldives has recently emerged from a long period in which human rights “were routinely violated and in which many people, including members of the new Government, were tortured.”

“Thankfully, the country has been able to turn its back on such times and is now busy establishing itself as a modern liberal democracy with a full separation of powers and strong human rights safeguards,” the president wrote.

“One of the challenges facing the new Government as we look to consolidate democracy, rule of law and human rights is how to come to terms with the difficult episodes in our past without jeopardising our future.

“Dealing with the issue of torture, and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment is without doubt one of the more difficult issues we are confronted with, especially in our small closely-knit community. Our favoured approach is to avoid retribution and instead to recognise, come to terms with, and learn from such tragic episodes as a means of ensuring that the memory of the victims is honoured and that we avoid repeating the same mistakes.”

Bokova she is the first woman to hold the post since the foundation of UNESCO in 1945.