Members of the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) visited Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in military custody yesterday.
A statement by the commission explained that the meeting was arranged under the HRCM’s national preventive mechanism (NPM) to monitor the treatment and condition of detainees and prevent ill-treatment.
Judge Abdulla was “in good health and provided all essential basic services” and did not complain of “any kind of harm or inhumane treatment”.
Abdulla Mohamed was controversially arrested by the military at about 11pm on Monday night. The detention prompted judges of the Criminal Court, High Court and Supreme Court as well as some members of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to immediately convene at the Department of Judicial Administration (DJA).
Shortly thereafter, the High Court issued a court order demanding the immediate release of Judge Abdulla, noting that the arrest was in violation of legal procedures specified in the Judges Act, which requires a warrant from a higher court as well the consultation of the Prosecutor General (PG) if a judge is to be taken into custody on criminal charges.
Police had summoned the chief judge for questioning on Monday for an undisclosed investigation. However after the judge requested the High Court to cancel the summons, it issued an injunction ordering police to halt enforcement of the summons pending a ruling.
Judge Abdulla was taken into custody by the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) later that night following a request for assistance by police. The Home Minister and Defence Minister appeared on state broadcaster the following night explaining that military assistance was sought for “fear of loss of public order and safety and national security” on account of Judge Abdulla, who has “taken the entire criminal justice system in his fist”.
Meanwhile during the emergency congregation of judges and lawyers in the early hours of Monday morning, Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz released a statement calling for the immediate release of Judge Abdulla.
The Supreme Court then issued an order to MNDF demanding the immediate release of the chief judge.
The government however continues to defy both the High Court and Supreme Court orders while Prosecutor General Ahmed Muiz has told local media that the Chief of Defence Forces and others involved in the arrest would be prosecuted for their “illegal actions”.
Opposition parties have launched daily protests and vowed to file no-confidence motions against the Home Minister and Defence Minister.
Meanwhile over 48 hours after his arrest, MNDF informed the judge’s family of his whereabouts and condition on Wednesday.
On Thursday, a group of 30 lawyers – including the current government’s first Attorney General Dhiyana Saeed and senior members of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) – released a statement appealing to the international community to urge the government to respect the constitution and law.
The lawyers insisted that Judge Abdulla’s arrest violated constitutional rights and legal procedures specified in the Judges Act as well as international norms.
Chief Justice Faiz meanwhile issued another statement last week appealing all state institutions to respect the powers and authority granted by the constitution to each organ of the state.
“In a constitutional system, a disruption to the legal status and powers of any institution is a disruption to the whole system,” the Chief Justice stated. “The consequences of a problem arising in one organ of the state will be faced by the whole system. Our constitutional system can only be maintained by protecting all state institutions.”
Faiz further appealed to all parties to respect democratic principles and remain within the bounds of the law and constitution.