Government slams UK lord’s op-ed on Nasheed trial

The government has responded furiously to a Huffington Post opinion piece  by a member of Britain’s House of Lords about the trial of former president Mohamed Nasheed, calling it inaccurate, one-sided, and “an act of gross irresponsibility”.

Lord David Alton’s article called for targeted sanctions and a boycott of tourist resorts linked to the government following Nasheed’s conviction on terrorism charges.

In an open letter to Lord Alton from the Maldives High Commission to the UK, the government said that as a member of the All-Party British-Maldives Parliamentary Group the independent cross-bench life peer had been kept regularly informed about the opposition leader’s trial.

“Nevertheless, you have decided to comment on the trial in such an inaccurate and public manner, that it will further exacerbate the domestic ramifications of the case for our young democracy. This is incredibly disappointing,” reads the letter.

The government was “a firm defender of freedom of speech,” but “it is our opinion that your authorship of an op-ed piece of such inaccuracy and one-sidedness was an act of gross irresponsibility,” it continued.

The response forms part of a diplomatic offensive by the government aiming to counter criticism of Nasheed’s trial by the United Nations, Amnesty International and several governments.

Lord Alton described Nasheed’s terrorism trial as “an extraordinary farce” and a “gross miscarriage of justice” in a piece entitled “We must send the Maldivian regime a clear, unambiguous and robust message: Their behaviour is unacceptable”, published on March 22.

The op-ed contained a “litany of inaccuracies,” the government contended, whilst uninformed commentary in the international media “only serves to perpetuate the spread of misinformation and baseless rumour”.

The High Commission’s letter noted that Nasheed was charged under the 1990 Anti-Terrorism Act, for ordering the military to “unlawfully and unconstitutionally abduct Chief Judge Abdullah in January 2012.”

“The government of Maldives would like to make it clear that there is no conspiracy by the government to unwarrantedly convict Mr Nasheed,” it added, reiterating that the executive could “neither interfere nor influence any decision of the Prosecutor General or the judiciary.”

Information wars

The High Commission repeated demonstrably false claims in letters from the government sent both to stakeholders in India and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The letter falsely claimed that Nasheed was presented before a judge a day after his arrest for “a procedural remand hearing” whilst his lawyers were not present as they had failed to register.

However, Nasheed was brought to court for the first hearing of his trial after his lawyers had been told they should have registered two days in advance, despite being unaware of the trial until the opposition leader’s arrest the previous day.

The letter suggested that Lord Alton confused “allegations that two of [the] judges were witnesses for the prosecution with the court’s refusal to hear Mr Nasheed’s defence witnesses.”

The prosecutor general and two of the three presiding judges were at Judge Abdullah’s home at the time of his arrest and had testified in a 2012 Human Rights Commission investigation.

Meanwhile, the presiding judges later refused to call any of Nasheed’s witnesses to the stand, claiming they did not appear to “negate” the prosecution’s case.

The letter also dismissed Lord Alton’s claim that police manhandled Nasheed – which was widely reported and shown on television – insisting that police followed standard procedure.

Lord Alton had meanwhile called for “targeted sanctions” against the Maldives, suspension from the Commonwealth, and Nasheed’s nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

“The European Union should freeze the assets of senior regime officials and their crony backers. A travel ban should be imposed on senior regime leaders,” he wrote.

“And a carefully targeted tourism boycott, aimed at resorts owned by regime associates, is needed. Sir Richard Branson has already called for such a boycott, and others should join that call.”


5 thoughts on “Government slams UK lord’s op-ed on Nasheed trial”

  1. All these rethoric without concrete action to follow have proved useless. The governments stand is Europe and USA along with India do not offer any finance and the said countries are almost in a financial crisis. Therefore as long as China offers there backing to us we are not concerned. It is obvious who are those targeted from day one and how they get the work done with total impunity. If the so called powerful nations cannot bring this regime of a small powerless nation to abide by the Charters and conventions they have agreed to, how can they intervene in bigger places when rulers flagrantly violate human rights and democratic values? Very shameful of you big nations.

  2. "“Nevertheless, you have decided to comment on the trial in such an inaccurate and public manner, that it will further exacerbate the domestic ramifications of the case for our young democracy. This is incredibly disappointing,”"
    It will be easier to digest if better bull crap was used! This is totally indigestible!
    There is no nothing about any ramifications of any young democracy!
    Ever since after the 7th of February, 2012 it is Animal Farm that is being played here!
    This government, or rather Pres. Yaamee do not want to listen to anyone, talk to anyone!
    All he wants is is bridges and an open budget for him to waste on making the nation into a kingdom, I suppose, and let it be passed on!
    Comments of viewers can differ as to opinion!
    To my belief the lord's opinion was his while ours should be ours!
    The piece about targeted sanctions is something being in done in the world when crisis like this arise!
    And I can't see why he cannot call for it based on the realities of the trial which everyone has witnessed!

  3. Let's address some of the comments from the Maldivian High Commission:

    (1) The government was “a firm defender of freedom of speech,”

    The government of Maldives "was" (at some point in the past) a firm believer in that freedom. The present regime's stance is quite different. A small example is those who are protesting against the government being taken to the Criminal Court and ordered not to attend further protests!

    (2) it added, reiterating that the executive could “neither interfere nor influence any decision of the Prosecutor General or the judiciary.”

    Alright, let's take a look at that. The "executive's" party PPM holds an overwhelming majority in the Majlis (we won't get into the details as to how they got there now). That majority decided to sack the Chief Justice and the only other credibly educated justice in the Supreme Court. Within a couple of weeks, those two gentleman were removed from their post and to-date, we've not heard of a reason for that!

    The Prosecutor General's job could be gone in a similar manner, since that same majority in the Majlis holds his fate in their hands!

    Those are just small examples of a theme that's been running since the current regime came into power. Moreover, Yameen keeps claiming that he's the least bit bothered by what foreigners think of "domestic" issues and will never let them influence his regime. Then why is he ordering his foot soldiers to defend his regime's actions?

  4. Lord David Alton can also open his gob and say anything just like like Ex-foregn Minister Shaheed (supposedly in an impartial and in a respectable UN position for Human Rights on Iran with only western backing) but he is the no gossip mongering activist on Maldives twitter.

    The moment Shaheed calls for Indian army to be sent to Maldives, it is taken as an indirect call from the Commonwealth. So how can Maldivians believe in UN and the stand of the west if the even people the west has 'chosen' from Maldives cannot preach what they practice.

    Foreign ministers in other countries defend sovereignty but its this week that 2 ex foreign ministers are calling for Indian military intervention. One practically begging for it, the other supporting it.

    They also advocate human rights and also advocate violence 'against injustice' even though they were themselves a part of the regime they call unjust.

    No where is hypocrisy in politics as much as in Maldives. In the Human rights advocating politicians likes the country to be like Singapore. They do not mind political repression of Singapore while they are shopping in Orchard Road.

    The Islamic party Adaalath (which advocates good morals) jumps from one party to another. They are ofcourse against alcohol in resorts but do mind being sponsored by resort owners.

    The most democratic MDP party is ofcourse the most democratic party, but does not believe in a primary.

    The most generous party is the Jumhoory party, which has huge pending bill for unpaid taxes to treasury. .. so hypocracy goes on...

    Thank you Lord Alton

  5. Lord David Alton should talk about his own country's irregularities and injustice. He should be more concerned about his own backyard in the UK rather than commenting based on here-say and incorrect information spread through foreign interference in the forms of NGOs and media. Come on! Open up the files for former PM Blair for being the poodle of George W. Bush and invading Iraq and the killing of innocent Brazil in the neighborhoods of No. 10 Downing Street, etc etc.....Is the Title of LORD given to you is for blabbering falsehood????


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