Deputy Leader of the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) and MP for Vilifushi constituency Riyaz Rasheed yesterday submitted a resolution to the People’s Majlis calling on former Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed to resign from his post as UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights to Iran.
Sun Online reported that the resolution was linked to the recently published 2010 audit report of the Foreign Office, dating from the time Dr Shaheed headed the department during the Presidency of Mohamed Nasheed.
The media outlet reported that Rasheed’s resolution called for action to be taken against Shaheed for his part in what the MP believes to have been corrupt practices.
“We call for the investigation of these accusations of corruption, and also to take action against Dr Shaheed,” the resolution is said to have read.
Shaheed responded to the corruption allegations shortly after the report’s release, calling them “politically motivated, misleading, ill-informed, and anachronistic”.
He noted that the report highlighted “systemic deficits” but said he felt they were in no way indicative of a lack of integrity of civil servants in the office.
Rasheed was today unwilling to speak with Minivan News, so it remains unclear what action he proposes the Majlis take against Shaheed who works in an independent capacity, without salary, on behalf of the United Nations.
Comments on Shaheed’s Twitter page yesterday suggested that he failed to see how Rasheed’s wishes were pertinent to the Majlis’s remit.
“Why doesn’t [Riyaz Rasheed] petition FIFA to sack me?” he asked in one post.
“If someone told him that a resolution in the parliament is not going to strip of him his FIFA referee accreditation, he might understand,” said Dr Shaheed, when speaking with Minivan News today.
Shaheed also suggested that the move by Rasheed was an angry response to the recent disclosure of details concerning money owed by the government to forensic accounting firm Grant Thornton.
The firm recently invoiced the government for over Rf107million (US$7 million) as a cancellation fee, after the current government requested the firm halt its investigation into illegal oil trading involving prominent politicians.
Special Rapporteurs are appointed after being recommended to, and ratified by the Human Rights Council (HRC) – a subsidiary body of the United Nations General Assembly.
The HRC’s handbook on its special procedures states that “individual mandate-holders are selected on the basis of their expertise, experience, independence, impartiality, integrity and objectivity.”
Rasheed’s resolution says that Shaheed owed his position to an opportunity provided to him by the Maldivian state which may allude to his nomination having come from the Foreign Ministry. This is allowed for in the HRC’s procedures.
The position, however, is by its very nature not affiliated with the government, as the HRC handbook makes clear.
“The requisite independence and impartiality are not compatible with the appointment of individuals currently holding decision-making positions within the executive or legislative branches of their Governments or in any other organization or entity which may give rise to a conflict of interest with the responsibilities inherent to the mandate,” reads the document.
Shaheed yesterday was keen to make clear via Twitter that he served as special rapporteur in an individual capacity: “I am NOT in a post allotted to Maldives!” he tweeted.
Riyaz, who is the DQP’s sole parliamentary representative in the national unity government, also claimed that he felt Shaheed’s continuance in the position would damage the reputation of the Maldives.
Riyaz made headlines earlier in the year after calling for the Maldives to withdraw from the Commonwealth following the organisation’s criticism of the government’s attempt at political reconciliation.
This proposal came after Rasheed had criticised the current head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II, labelling her “physically challenged” on national television.
Riyaz also criticised the democratic credentials of Britain owing to the Queen’s position as head of state despite the fact that she is a constitutional monarch whose powers are largely ceremonial.