“Courageous and exemplary work”: President dismisses JSC Velezinee

President Mohamed Nasheed has removed the President’s member of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Aishath Velezinee, from her post.

“There was no reason given. All I can say is that the President is extremely grateful for the courageous and exemplary work Velezinee has done,” said Nasheed’s Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair, adding that a new member would soon be appointed.

Minivan News understands that Velezinee’s departure from the JSC may be part of a back room deal not unrelated to impending judicial reform, opposition MPs crossing the floor and the arrest of former government officials on allegations of torture.

Velezinee herself was not commenting on the decision.

One woman army

Velezinee became an outspoken whistle-blower on the JSC last year after claiming that her many letters of concern to parliament – which provides oversight on the independent commissions – were being ignored.

In early 2010, she set about publicly exposing the independent institution she claimed was operating “like a secret society” and serving as a “shield” for a judiciary that was “independent in name only”, and had tabled only several of the hundreds of complaints submitted against judges.

Using her access to court documents, Velezinee revealed that almost a quarter of the sitting judges had criminal records – ranging from theft to terrorism – and that an even greater number had not even completed grade 7 education. The only qualification of many was a ‘Diploma in Judging’ presenting to them by the former Ministry of Justice, Velezinee contested.

For the past 30 years judges effectively worked as the employees of those “hand-picked” by the former government, Velezinee explained – to the extent that failures to extend a particular ruling as required by the Ministry of Justice resulted in a black mark on the judge’s file.

“The only qualification it appears was a willingness to submit to the will of the government at the time – to follow orders,” Velezinee told Minivan News is a previous interview.

“Not everyone has the mindset to follow orders and serve in that kind of capacity. I believe it has excluded people with independent thinking, or the necessary legal knowledge – such people would take it as an insult for someone to order them how to decide a case.”

Velezinee’s concerns – met with noticeable silence from both the JSC and the then-opposition majority parliament – sparked her ‘Article 285’ campaign.

Article 285 was the Constitutional stipulation that the JSC determine before the conclusion of the interim period – August 7, 2010 – whether or not the judges on the bench possessed the characteristics specified by article 149: “the educational qualifications, experience and recognized competence necessary to discharge the duties and responsibilities of a judge, [and] high moral character”.

At the eleventh hour prior to the conclusion of the interim period, the JSC reappointed the vast majority of sitting judges for life in a surrepticious ceremony conducted behind doors that would have remained closed had Velezinee not rushed the podium.

“The JSC decided – I believe with the support of parliament – that the same bench will remain for the next 40 years, retitled as an ‘independent judiciary’,” Velezinee said following the reappointments.

She further alleged that senior members of the parliamentary opposition were present in the JSC office over the weekend prior to the interim period deadline, personally assisting the JSC secretariat with photocopying the letters of appointment.

“I’m telling you: this is big. What we are seeing is all interconnected – it is one big plot to try – in any way possible – to return power to the corrupt,” she told Minivan News in July 2010, noting that her concerns had led to her being labelled “the Article 285 madwoman” by not only the opposition.

Less than a year later, many of her allegations were independently corroborated by a report produced by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), which attended JSC sessions and criticised its independence.

The JSC, the report stated, “was unable to carry out its functions in a sufficiently transparent, timely, and impartial manner. To date, JSC decision-making has been perceived as being inappropriately influenced by a polarised political environment. Also troubling is that members of the judiciary have been subject to threats and intimidation as well as improper inducements by both governing and opposition party members.”

The JSC refused to table the ICJ’s report, and disputed having ever received it.

Towards the end of 2010 Velezinee upped her campaign to incorporate parliament, naming both opposition and independent MPs as being involved in what she described as “a silent coup” to deprive the country of an independent judiciary for the sake of providing continued judicial impunity to senior power brokers of the former administration.

The reason for that failure, she suggested, was a fear among leaders of the former administration “who are continuing with criminal activities they have allegedly been carrying out for a long, long time.”

“There is widespread public perception that certain members of parliament are behind all the serious organised crime going on in this country. This includes serious drug issues, gang violence, stabbings,” she alleged, in a previous interview with Minivan News.

“These are allegations only because they have never come up before a court of law in all this time.”

“It is a much discussed issue, but it has never come up in the courts. I can see now that perhaps it may be true – otherwise why prevent the formation of an independent judiciary? I don’t think they would have confidence that they would get away free,” Velezinee said, observing that former political figures such as attorney generals were now representing these MPs in court as their lawyers, “and, by and large, they win every case.”

“This is not such a far-fetched radical thought coming from me any more because of the things we have seen over the last year to do with politicians and judicial action. The courts are a playground for politicians and are not trusted by the general public. Parliament has failed, and there is no other institutional mechanism in this constitution for the JSC to be held to account.”

In January this year Velezinee was stabbed three times in broad daylight while walking down Male’s main tourist street, on the same day that the High Court judges were due to be appointed.

“My first fear was that I would easily I bleed to death,” she told Minivan News, after she was discharged from hospital. “But I took a deep breath and realised I was alive. As soon as I realised this, the only thing I wanted to do was go and get the blood stopped and get to the Commission because this was the day of the High Court appointments, and I know they wanted me out of the way. I didn’t realise how serious the wounds were, I didn’t see them until two days later when I went for a dressing change.”

Many international organisations, including Transparency International and the ICJ, expressed “grave concern that the attack may be politically motivated.”

“There are honourable men in this country who are owned by others, and they may be put in a position where they believe they have to take my life. I knew there was a chance that I was risking murder, and I wasn’t wrong,” Velezinee told Minivan News, following her recovery. “It was only because of God’s grace that I survived.”


20 thoughts on ““Courageous and exemplary work”: President dismisses JSC Velezinee”

  1. We all know who is dealing drugs and controling gangs in this country. Certain leaders of opposition parties are behind it all.

    Velezini may have been dismissed as a mad woman but all her claims are being proven true.

  2. Hmmmm..The puppet master's country...same puppets,new master..it's always the same grand show,isn't it....we'll get popcorn(may not be available in a few weeks time)and just watch the show till we die from either starvation or a road accident due to unruly traffic on worn out crowded roads with tons of motorcycles going crazy on roads with no traffic management or being mugged by some lowlife druggie looking for a few bucks or by a murder happy thug OR till we get submerged under the sea by the next tsunami that would wash us away into doomsland!!

    Happy country laaalaaa. how to explain a two lac foreign laborers working on Male' to build up tall buildings helping in the process of shrinking the thin reef on which stands Male' island?

    In order to make easy money for the Male' people to hire more servants from abroad to look after their kids and wash their clothes and cook their food when they actually cannot afford all this? .....Thus explains the Lazy Maldivian's mind..Their hands are tied up when they have to do hard work..

    Similar is the way the Maldivian Puppetmaster's mind works!

  3. velezinie was a courageous person who carried out her work under extremely difficult circumstances. She fought almost single handedly a very corrupt system with many corrupt and potentially dangerous individuals. She carried out her work at risk to her own self and well-being. Thank you for the work you did for judicial reform in this country.

  4. Thanks Velezinee for all your hard work these years, fighting for justice for the peoples.

    You are truly irreplaceable and one of a kind. Good luck in all your future employments.

  5. Congratulations Velizinee! You have proven that you will stick by your principles, no matter what. I am glad you didnt let yourself get sucked into the system and stood by your beliefs, even if it meant getting dismissed. Our country needs lots more people like you. And thank you for all the effort you put into to reforming the judiciary. Even if you didnt get the results you wanted, I believe that informing the public on all its wrongdoings was one big achievement.

  6. I like the braveness of this lady. She may be refered as the mad woman, but she is GOOD in her work. We need true people like this in our nation. But why did Anni remove such a person from her post? Whats going on?

  7. Whats going on? Can minivan news please do a follow us story and investigate the matter.

  8. "“Courageous and exemplary work”: President dismisses JSC Velezinee"
    I like the title of this article.
    Reminds me of Newton's third law: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

  9. Although I know power corrupts and politics is dirty, I will feel profoundly duped if I came to learn that Velezinee was sacked so as to not get in the way of MDP's, Anni's path to continued power. If Anni has placed his own will to power before the pursuit of truth and justice, no, squashed the realization of truth and justice for the sake of power, (by getting rid of Velezinee to secure the support of one or more who may be those accused by Velezinee) what a sad realization this will be. For me, it would be like my illusion of Anni the great liberal would be shattered, and I will be ashamed to show my face for how naive I am, how stupid I have been to expect so much from Anni.

    Yet I shall wait and see... before I jump to conclusions, before my faith in Anni is abandoned.

    If he who I revere as the "great liberal" is exposed as a raw realist, I am going to know I am truly the most naive person who ever lived.

  10. Another person thrown away when they are no longer convenient. First Gasim, then Dr Waheed (as much as he could), now Velazinee.

  11. I commend Velezinee's work, courage and honesty. I will wait for her to reveal why she was removed from her position in JSC.

  12. I am glad she was removed for her sake, there is no telling what would have happened to her. Like many greats her sacrifices for justice will be remembered long after she is gone.

  13. Just to add something that might be unpopular to say at the moment but I am confounded about the reasoning behind Velezinee's efforts in the JSC. Two options come to mind.

    1) Velezinee was acting in the President's interests, as she is duty-bound to do, when she did all that she had done within the JSC. Therefore her conduct reflected the MDP's wishes, also she might have been working to limit the DRP's influence on the judiciary and, at the same time, increase the amount of influence the MDP could exert.

    2) OR did she have her own agenda? If so, in whose interest was she working for? Was she truly an idealist? Did she report to some other political actors behind the scenes?

  14. .....anyone who upsets or threatens .......... taken away to prison and removed from mainstream society.....http://minivannewsarchive.com/society/comment-in-power-by-default-18577

    It takes beyond courage to stand up to truth. Vel.. You are living a life of choice unlike others who go with the flow!! You will lose positions, but you will never be a loser. Cause even now you stand above most cos you value TRUTH.

  15. one of the best..listening to her speaking in Dhivehi is the greatest thing of all..she may look very westernized but when she speak in the native language its like going back to old times...listening to the most auhthentic version of it...i wonder how many people would have that quality now. good luck to a brave lady of our times

  16. This is a most interesting story and this is about a most interesting person.

    I know full well what the Maldivian judiciary was like. Being a judge was not a job for an honest, intelligent and independent person.

    To take on such an institution as the Maldivian judiciary, as the good lady did, was a heroic task that could have been fulfilled only by an exceptional individual.

    That individual she was. She was unique. I salute her in admiration, and take off my hat to her.

    In the real world, corrupt as it is, the days of that good lady were numbered. Her days are now over in that job.

    She has to re-invent herself.

  17. This where it goes unexplained! how come when some one like Vel, who sacrificed everything, dignity, the values of the society, etc to ensure she adhere to the oath she took! Despite the how she acted at times I guess she was strong believer that unless rule of law is upheld , no democracy or human rights protected. May be there is something better President has in his mind for her!!


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