A UNDP-run campaign called ‘Access to Justice’ hopes to address a lack of public awareness into how the judicial system works – a critical problem for the development and promotion of human rights in the Maldives, according to the UN body.
The ‘Did you Know?’ campaign will be unrolled across Male’, Hulhumale’ and Vilingilli following a launch event at the Surf Point in Male’ on November 26, and will involve a team of young volunteers door-knocking around the capital and distributing brochures.
During the launch event, stalls will be set up for various institutions, such as parliament, the Attorney General’s Office, Prosecutor General’s Office, Employment Tribunal and independent commissions.
UNDP National Project Manager Naaz Aminath said the purpose of the campaign was to raise people’s awareness of the Maldives legal system and their rights under Chapter 2 of the Constitution.
“The awareness-raising campaign is a year long campaign that will be carried out across Maldives,” she explained, “and we don’t expect people to know everything in one year – this is just the beginning.”
The door-to-door campaign will involve knocking on every door in the capital, and eventually the country, to deliver a pamphlet in English and Dhivehi outlining the legal system, rights and institutions protecting them.
“When we go to houses, if people are willing The idea is to provide people with detailed information if they are willing when we go to the houses. Otherwise we will simply deliver the pamphlet and leave,” she said.
Acknowledging the dry subject matter, Naaz explained that the event would be accompanied by a lucky prize-draw, entertainment and a six-month SMS campaign to spark public interest in the topic.
Naaz noted that the campaign was necessary because although the Maldives was not a post-conflict country, “since independence 45 years ago it has never had a democracy or even separation of power.
“You cannot expect the public or even the government for that matter to know what democracy means or looks like,” she added.
A report by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) into the state of the Maldives judicial system has been drafted but not yet officially released.