Commonwealth to provide technical assistance to help resolve Maldives’ judicial crisis

The Commonwealth will provide technical expertise to the Maldives to help resolve the ongoing judicial crisis in the Maldives, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated.

High Commissioner of the Maldives to the UK, Dr Farahanaz Faizal, met with Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba this week and raised “the urgent need to modernise the Judiciary to international standards and possible Commonwealth assistance in this regard.”

The crisis was sparked on January 16 when the government ordered the military to detain Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, Abdulla Mohamed, after he filed a High Court injunction against his police summons.

Allegations against the judge dating back to 2005 include misogyny, sexual deviancy, throwing out an assault case despite the confession of the accused, political bias, obstruction of police duty, disregarding decisions of high courts, deliberately holding up cases involving opposition figures, barring media from corruption trials, ordering the release of suspects detained for serious crimes without a single hearing, maintaining “suspicious ties” with family members of convicts sentenced for dangerous crimes, and releasing a murder suspect “in the name of holding ministers accountable” who went on to kill another victim.

In one instance Abdulla Mohamed was accused of requesting that two underage victims of sexual assault act out their attack in court, in front of the perpetrator.

The judge had previously been under investigation by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), but had successfully sought an injunction from the Civil Court against his further investigation by the judicial watchdog.

The JSC itself has itself been accused of perjury, embezzlement and corruption – by one of its own members.

The ongoing detention of the judge has polarised public opinion in the Maldives and resulted in several weeks of opposition-led protests consisting of between 200-400 people, some of them resulting in violence and injuries to police, protesters and journalists.

Judge was “clearly demonstrating his independence”: ICJ Australia

Earlier this week ABC Radio in Australia aired an interview with John Dowd, President of the Australian branch of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), who stated that Judge Abdulla Mohamed had “clearly been demonstrating independence as he’s supposed to do and the government doesn’t like it.”

None of the government’s allegations against the judge warranted his arrest, Dowd argued, “and it’s clear that the must be immediately released. This will do serious damage to the Maldives internationally and their tourist industry is a big part of their income and they just can’t allow this to go on.”

The Maldivian judiciary, Dowd claimed, was “generally competent”.

“It’s not a legally focused country. They’ve had a change of government after some 30 odd years and there’s obviously a settling down period and they do need assistance in terms of bringing their legal system up to date. But nonetheless, there is nothing wrong with the way the judges carry out their duties and it’s just a classic situation of a government not liking someone’s decision.

“It’s got a funny legal system in that there are aspects of Sharia law in it and British Commonwealth law and so on. But I would have thought that the Commonwealth Secretariat could have arranged some judges or someone that could go in there to mediate, and the Commonwealth is the more likely basis for resolving the issue. It really is very difficult for outsiders to intervene and I don’t think the UN is the correct body,” Dowd told the ABC.

Maldives Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem responded to the criticism on ABC Radio the following day.

The government, he said, did not want to keep Abdulla Mohamed under arrest, but did not want him sitting on the bench until the charges against him were cleared – “but the point here is that we are in a Catch-22 situation – which court do we go to?

“Existing judges swore themselves in unilaterally without looking into the relevant clauses of the constitution, which says that they have to be sworn in according to the new constitution.

“Now, this new constitution strictly stipulates that these judges should have qualification to act as judges. The present judges that we have don’t have these qualifications.

“There are quite a lot of people whose interests are vested with these judges. That is, there are politicians connected to the former regime, who have many court cases. Now all these court cases are being held by the judge who is under detention at the moment. No cases have been conducted on this and no sentence has been passed. So it’s in the interests of the opposition to see that this judge remains as a judge.”

The country’s “entire judiciary is at stake”, Naseem argued. “What democracy can we have, when we don’t have a proper judicial system and we can’t dispense justice properly? The democracies of the world should really help us and find ways of sorting this issue out. We have requested UN bodies to help us in this and they’ve promised to send us some people to sit down with us and work something through.”

Criminal Court letter

Meanwhile, a group of Criminal Court judges this week sent a letter to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Ahmed Faiz, contending that the Supreme Court had as much responsibility for the crisis as President Mohamed Nasheed.

Ensuring an independent judiciary as envisioned in the new constitution adopted in August 7, 2008 was “a legal as well as national duty” of the Supreme Court, the judges noted, adding that it was “regrettable” that the Criminal Court’s functions have not been developed in line with the changes to the criminal justice system.

Among the main points raised in the letter included the Supreme Court abolishing an article in the Judicature Act – “without any discussions with anyone” – that stipulated the formation of judicial councils, intended to represent all courts and provide advice and counsel.

The Supreme Court also took over a case filed at the Civil Court challenging the legality and validity of the JSC’s process for vetting candidates to the High Court “in the name of public interest litigation” and dismissed the case without issuing a verdict.

Moreover, the letter stated, the Chief Justice “turned a deaf ear” to numerous complaints from the public as well as judges and took no action regarding Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

The judges also criticised the Supreme Court for not undertaking efforts towards dialogue with the government or President Nasheed to resolve the current crisis, calling on the Chief Justice to bring both sides to the negotiating table.

The letter took note of inconsistent standards and rulings made by different judges of the Criminal Court regarding extension of detention and evaluating evidence as well as the release of suspects detained for serious crimes, and referred to a list of “urgently needed” reforms previously recommended to the Supreme Court.


30 thoughts on “Commonwealth to provide technical assistance to help resolve Maldives’ judicial crisis”

  1. NO, please don't send any lawyers to the Maldives, Mr.CommonWealth.

    We have more than enough "high-heeled" lawyers. We don't have any problems with the courts. All courts are with the highest qualified lawyers.

    FYI, I'm doing in winning my bread by letting out high profile clients who're accused of murder, gang operators and drug king-pins. All these people were innocent and always they were subjected by the reigning dictatorships.

    My colleagues are Achchima Schukoor (another high-heeled) lady lawyer, Waddey (with a diploma in law though by on of the world's famous president Gay-yoom.), Moyamoon (Gay-yoom's bro's son), Most expensive lawyer (another son of the gayest Gay-yoom's bro), and some others.

    So we're ready to defend our nation. We can draft a constitution in 16 years. We support that kinda good works done in the best interest of the public. We can do it ourselves. Plus more than half of the population are lawyers graduated from UK, US, and else where.

  2. Good work JJ. At least I'm sure most commentators would know that this one is a BCP plant.

    Now this is what I call classy propaganda.

    There's the right amount of international condemnation spiced with a glossed over recount of Naseem's comic interview which was laced with inconsistencies and obvious displays of the Foreign Ministers lack of knowledge about administrative systems in the country.

    Regarding the Supreme Court bench, why were we not able to get more respected legal giants on an institution which was meant to be one of the grandest in our new system of governance. The answers to that question will not be available via the media but it is very much the fault of President Mohamed Nasheed as well as opposition leaders in this country.



  4. DEAR COMMENTORS!! please do not waste time and comments on blaming JJ Robinson for his PROPAGANDA work!! As he is earning his easiest bread and butter at the expense of building a cool dictator in a developing country!! JJ is simply doing his "job"!! He has no "sense of right and wrong"!! he is just follow orders!! I sometimes sense his articles are written by Press Secretary Zuhair or President Nasheed himself!! What a shame JJ!! Minivan is simply the old dictator Gayoom time Haveeru news! only difference is we have a "white man" to do the dirty job!!

  5. @Husnu

    You have just insulted and derogated some of the best lawyers in our country who happen to be some of the best human resource we have.

    Look at the MDP struggling to sell people like Ahmed Abdulla Afeef who thirsts for fame rather than trying to make honest money from hard work. Also, as a lawyer he has made no contribution in terms of laws drafted, reforms implemented, research done, cases fought etc. etc.

    For all their natural human faults every single lawyer you have named are valuable assets to our small yet proud nation.

  6. Judge was “clearly demonstrating his independence”: ICJ Australia

    But, of course. That's why Abdulla Mohammed promptly asked the Civil Court (which is a lower Court), to anul the findings of the Judicial Services Commission involving his misconduct!

    Now, that's a classic piece of independence; i.e. a judge asking a peer at the same level to anul the proceedings of the institution that was Consitutionally created to oversee them.

    I wonder how ICJ Australia would feel under similar circumstances.

  7. Tsk Tsk

    It was not Foreign Ministers interview that was comic. It was John Dowd, President of the Australian branch of the International Commission of Jurists who made an idiot of himself. Clearly he had not done his homework. God forbid the Commonwealth send us people like him to reform our laws!!His ignorance of our situation and his arrogance is embarassing. You have to wonder how these people get to these positions.

  8. Tsk Tsk how about you read what you write and tell us what you are getting out of writing your propaganda attacking this government? Is there anything this government has done that meets with your approval?

  9. Amazing, even the judges in Australia are incompetent. Being a judge is the only profession in the world where the older you are, the more out of touch you are and the more incompetent you are the more qualified and senior you become!??

    If we want justice and truth we have to break the old rotten system. Do not back off now Mr President, we are 100% behind you!

  10. What the hell does this fellow John Dowd know about whats really going on in the judiciary in the Maldives. Does he not realise thats its precisely because Abdulla Mohamed has NOT been independent that the judiciary is the bloody mess that it is in! My suggestion to you Mr Dowd is do your homework before stepping in with unhelpful comments!

  11. @Marie, you claim to know so much and yet your English is worse than a primary school student. Lol. And people like you claim to know enough economics and have enough legislative knowledge to poke your nose in the governance of a nation taking it's infantile steps in democracy. How ignorant! It's people like you and tsk tsk who actually mislead the general neutral commoner

  12. Everything seems to be a matter of personal preference these days doesn't it>

    Objective reality has been destroyed by the politicized environment we live in.

    I thought Naseem's interview was comic because he used phrases like 'overlooking body' and fumbled his answers by references to the past regime and vague allegations against the judiciary. You might get away with such hogwash on MNBCOne or RaajjeTV but when one is demanded to speak the English language to justify one's position one seems to ramble like a 12 year old girl if one is Naseem.

  13. Despite all this fun every night, this lawyer is not going to return to the bench every again. We have the Mafia Dons (Gayoom and Yaameen) who had slipped away and asking their pawns to continue this nuisance. Unless we can bring Justice to these brothers this country is not going to see a better future.

  14. 'Dowd' has been brainwashed by some extremely persuasive Maldivian opposition member or supporter. It hurts me no end to see such highly educated people being so gullible.

    Having said that, I must say that Maldivians CAN be EXTREMELY persuasive, and us Westerners are made gullible by the arrogance of our own 'liberal-democratic' idealism.

  15. does anyone have any information about, if "Dowd" had set foot in the Maldivies? By his own admission he agrees that we "[we have a] funny legal system in that there are aspects of Sharia law in it and British Commonwealth law and so on." This is exactly why it is incompetent, this is exactly why it is not a fair and just system... this is exactly why too many wrongs have been done against too my innocent people.... AND THIS IS EXACTLY WHY WE NEED TO CHANGE.. we might look and smell funny but that is no justification for a funny legal system...

  16. Why is commonwealth poking their nose in this country's business? Don't they have better things to do?

  17. Behind every dictator there will be a Britisher. JJ Robison is the Britisher behind Nasheed.But when the time comes ie there is no more use of the dictator the dictator will be dumped.

  18. The reaction of MDP sympathizers here is truly astonishing.

    First of all one can oppose the current government and their actions and yet not be a propagandist for the opposition.

    I have played devil's advocate on many occasions for popular opposition figures because the truth is that almost all of them have a history and a track record that justifies my comments. The fact that they are in the opposition and openly vying to take over the Presidency from Nasheed does not change the fact that they are qualified and able people.

    Secondly I think it is fairly obvious that certain things Nasheed has done is wrong. Dowd is right that a judge has leeway to rule according to his own personal views as long as no law is violated in doing so. Whether the judge is influenced by external factors is a question for the JSC and even that body has to have reasonable evidence that the judge is influenced. Hearsay, political speeches and town gossip is not evidence.

    I support strengthening the JSC. However changing its composition is also a complex issue. If the Parliament is given sole authority to appoint the JSCs members based on applicants and their qualification this opens up the opportunity for whichever party controls the Parliament to create a puppet institution loyal only to the majority party. This is a matter for constitutional lawyers and legal experts to work out with experienced administrators and political figures.

    Also the irreversible damage done to institutions by promoting active and open aggression against their authority is a travesty any way you look at it. I do not support the opposition's open calls to defy the President as much as I oppose the President's open calls to defy the judiciary. The President must be impeached by Parliament and not by a mob. Judges also must be removed by Parliament and not by the ruling part. What are we? Barbarians?

    We attack experienced persons of outstanding caliber merely because their education and their integrity prevent them from supporting our views. Abdulla Mohamed's arrest is wrong any way you look at it and no one in their right mind can issue a solid statement in support of it. The President has overstepped his legal authority and crushed all hope of reasserting our Constitution by doing so. Certain elements within the judiciary, chief among them the Supreme Court, in tandem with the Parliament has also made a mess of the judicial system.

    Neither the ruling party, nor President Nasheed or some of the political figures in the opposition are in the right here. Yet we have to say that the President as head of State and servant of the Constitution has failed the most by virtue of his very position.

  19. Can somebody please tell me who are the members of the Maldivian Bar, and what qualifications they have.

    Both the posts of the Attorney General and Prosecutor General appear to be highly politicised. The occupants of these posts seem to be changing all the time. They are also very controversial in their behaviour.

    I believe most of Maldivian law is sharia law, which makes Maldives look very much like Saudi Arabia, which is a country which I am actually afraid to visit.

    It would have been very useful if either President Nasheed, or his brother, or both were lawyers. I mean proper lawyers. Not phoney ones.

    Can I ask you whether arresting the judges is a good technique for modernising the judiciary. Making them disappear, as a long term strategy to reform may not really work.

    Part of the president's desire to reform the judiciary is actually noble. Part of his desire to do that may be purely political and even personal.

    Mr President. The Coservative Party is watching you. The Guardian Weekly is watching you too. Get the Maldivian lawyers and judges on your side.

    At the moment, they appear to be working against you.

    As somebody else said recently, I also believe that neither the UN nor the US have the capacity to reform the Maldivian judiciary. Only the Maldivians themselves can do that.

  20. Well, i do agree that Maldives have good lawyers as well as unqualified lawyers holding high posts in the judiciary but, the problem we face today is that most of them support the former dictatorship hence, we don't believe that they can bring justice to the country they are severly politicized.

    The government do not expect the judiciary to do anything in favour of the government but what they expect is to be independent from the politics and bring justice to the country irrespective of political, gender, age, social and economical status of the citizen

  21. @Yasir on Fri, 3rd Feb 2012 5:57 PM

    "Why is commonwealth poking their nose in this country’s business?"

    Well, looks like your prayer has been answered, after all. The UN is on their way to "poke their nose" in the "business". Let's see what "business" the UN discovers.

  22. The opposition appears to have gone into "desperation" mode. They have begun calling Nasheed, the "ex-president"! Their demonstrations have had 0 effect so far on proceedings. I'm sure nothing much is going to happen even if they demonstrate for the next 12 months!

  23. What I am still not clear about is what how, a judge of a court even if it be the High Court can order the JSC which is the regulatory body of the judicial system designated by our constitution to stop doing its work? Didnt the High Court Judge violate our constitution by giving that order?

    I also would be interested to know if the opposition brought the dysfunctional state of the JSC to parliament before the judge was detained by the MNDF?

    Can someone please clarify this for me?

  24. @Haleem on Sat, 4th Feb 2012 4:10 PM

    "I also would be interested to know if the opposition brought the dysfunctional state of the JSC to parliament before the judge was detained by the MNDF?"

    Of course not! Why would they? The dysfunctional state was exactly what they wanted. All cases involving former regime members are "stuck" in the court system. No progress has been made for years, without any explanation.

    "Didnt the High Court Judge violate our constitution by giving that order?"

    It was the Civil Court judge that gave the order. Indeed, most will consider that un-Constitutional. Even more serious is the nature of Abdulla Mohammed's complaint at the Civil Court. He didn't just ask for an injunction. He asked the Civil Court to nullify the JSC's findings! The Civil Court promptly responded by putting an immediate injunction to stop ALL investigations regarding Abdulla Mohammed.

    Things cannot get more serious and seriously wrong than that! Abdulla Mohammed truly went "above the law".

  25. My Dear Maldivians, I have a very simple suggestion, shall we elect Abdulla Mohamed as the next president of Maldives.

    I really don't think Drill Gasim and Jam Jabir is up to it.

    What to you say Mr. All knowing one track mind tsk tsk.

  26. Dear tsk tsk, who is paying you to comment on this site, is it frog Mundhu or that Bangladeshi who is married to my daughter.

    Could you please get me a job like yours.

  27. I wonder if tsk tsk is the adviser to gods, seriously I really don't know why he is f++ting through his mouth in this site with his all knowing good for nothing brain.

  28. When I read the headling in a foreign news paper "Chief Judge of the Criminal Court of Maldives" arrested.

    Man, I thought it must be serious, than I ask, inquired what this guy is all about and found out he passed a fake subject in Sharia created for a few guys in "Mauhad" that pleased Gayoom to fill position in the Courts just before he was washed of off a election.

  29. Ah yes personal attacks.

    Always a sign that your opponents have little of substance to say against you.

  30. the problem dear people, is that laws need to be compatible with common sense.


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