President’s office seeks new members for HRCM

The president’s office has invited interested candidates to apply for membership of the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) ahead of a 2:00pm deadline next Tuesday.

In an announcement published in the government gazette today, the president’s office said application forms and a list of required documentation are available on the president’s office website.

The five-year terms of HRCM members Dr Ali Shameem and Ahmed Abdul Kareem are due to expire in September.

Last month, President Abdulla Yameen nominated former MP Shifaq Mufeed ‘Histo,’ Aishath Afreen Mohamed, and Aminath Eenas to replace three HRCM members whose terms are due to expire in August.

The nominees were sent for evaluation by the parliament’s independent institutions committee on June 15.

Some 33 interested candidates had submitted application forms to the president’s office.

The three members whose terms are up in August are HRCM president Mariyam Azra, vice president Ahmed Tholal, and Jeehan Mahmood.

Pro-government MPs have previously accused Tholal and Jeehan of bias towards the opposition MDP, an accusation the pair deny.

Meanwhile, in a controversial ruling last month, the Supreme Court found a human rights assessment submitted by the HRCM to the UN unlawful, and imposed an 11-point guideline prescribing how the independent commission should operate within the law.

The guideline barred the HRCM from communicating with foreign organisations without government oversight.

UN rights experts, the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and civil society groups have denounced the guideline as one that restricts the HRCM’s work and its right to share information freely with the UN.

But the government said the guidelines “do no stipulate, in any specific terms, any restriction or limitation on the HRCM’s ability to submit reports to the UN or any other national or international organ in the future.”

The guideline was issued under suo moto regulations that allow the Supreme Court to prosecute and pass judgment.

In its 2014 annual report, described the suo moto proceedings as the biggest challenge the watchdog has faced in its 11-year history.