Civil society joins criticism of Supreme Court’s actions against EC

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Civil society groups in the Maldives have added their voices to the growing concern over the Supreme Court’s actions against the Elections Commission (EC).

“The Maldivian Democracy Network and the Maldives NGO Federation are gravely concerned by the recent proceedings initiated by the Supreme Court of the Maldives against the members of the Elections Commission of the Maldives,” read a joint press release today.

After using newly introduced procedures to both initiate and oversee contempt of court charges against the EC, the court has subsequently deemed privileged Majlis testimony to be admissible in the case.

Today’s statement closely follows that of the EU’s Sri Lanka delegation which yesterday called upon the government to ensure the commission’s independence ahead of the March 22 Majlis elections.

Recalling the recent controversies surrounding the 2013 presidential election, the NGO statement argued these events had come at a “great cost to the state and the people”.

“We strongly urge all parties to ensure that the upcoming parliamentary elections are efficient, independent and fair. Any hindrance by any party to this process would be undemocratic and unfair for the people of the Maldives.”

The court’s decision to bring the charges of contempt of court refer to criticism of the decision to annul last September’s presidential election first round. The annulment was followed by further cancelled and delayed polls after much wrangling over the court’s new election guidelines.

The EC has also been accused of disobeying a Supreme Court order by dissolving eight political parties earlier this month.

The NGO statement has today referred to the 16 point guidelines as “onerous” and “controversial”.

Supreme Court must earn respect, say NGOs

Describing the current court case as “unjust”, runner-up in the presidential poll Mohamed Nasheed has said that his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) will not compete next month’s vote should the four EC members be removed.

Following today’s second EC advisory committee meeting in preparations for the March vote, MDP Spokesman Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said that the commission owed MVR12 million in pending bills after delays at the Finance Ministry.

Hamid reported, however, that the EC was confident the elections would proceed as scheduled.

The civil society statement noted that the decision to use testimony protected under the constitution had overstepped the court’s boundaries as the ultimate interpreter of the constitution.

Claiming establishing justice to be a tenet of Islam, Supreme Court Judge Ahmed Abdulla Didi has said the EC’s testimony at the independent commissions oversight committee obstructed justice and could be used in a court.

The court has said that no party has the authority to question or criticise its decisions as per Article 145 (c) of the constitution.

“The Elections Commission has been established in very clear terms by the Constitution of the Maldives as an independent institution with its oversight assigned to the people through their representatives in the People’s Majlis,” read today’s NGO press release.

“Writing this criteria in the Constitution cannot bring independence to an institution if it cannot be practiced and fully respected. Similarly, respect for an institution is not inherent to being a part of the Constitution. The Supreme Court must, as every other institution, earn the respect of the people.”


4 thoughts on “Civil society joins criticism of Supreme Court’s actions against EC”

  1. This farce will not end unless there is political will to end it. PPM believes the Supreme Court is their trump card and until and unless its use runs out, the current status quo will remain.

    It is not likely that MDP can secure a Parliament majority comfortable enough to remove a Justice of the Supreme Court. Also the configuration of the JSC does not lend itself to easy predictions as to what formula would allow for the institution to fall into the hands of either party. Once more there would be the issue of political will even if MDP manages to secure the JSC - will any one political party be true to its stated aim of judicial reform while control over the judiciary is an enticing end in itself.

    I think the solution lies in the long term with the development of a stronger legal/judicial sector populated by trained legal professionals. It is heartening to see several foreign-trained legal professionals and bright young minds who graduate from the local institutions despite the atrocious teaching standards there. Also the benches of the superior courts and High Court counts promising individuals among them. The most important thing now is to;
    - Either reform the Institute of Islamic Research (Kulliyyaa) and Faculty of Shariah and Law at the Maldives National University or shut them down: Both institutions are being used to churn out ill-trained individuals who are often either brainwashed or enticed to side with a political agenda (please note that I do not suggest that all graduates are the same but the majority of them are).
    - Raise general awareness about the law and legal processes in the Maldives. NGOs, publications and better reporting in the media can go a long way to achieve this end.

  2. Fuwad Taufeeg need to be removed from EC and he is an activities from MDP.

    Even in the last presidential election, the guy had tried to give the presidency to Nasheed undermining the people rights.

    Fuwad had undermined that the majority of people do not want to vote for Nasheed but the guy had tried to make Nasheed as the president by hook or crook.

  3. Sorry , it was a typing error and what i mean was "activist."

    @ enough. Fuwad is not an institution and he is a member of an institution. People like you who is blindly follows Nasheed and consider Nasheed as spiritual leader, will find people like Fuward as institution.

    We all know that how much dirty game this guy had played during last presidential election.


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