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The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) has called on the People’s Majlis to expedite the appointment of a Prosecutor General (PG) stating the delay violates citizens right to justice.
The commission has said the delay in appointing a PG affects a citizen’s right to seek justice, especially criminal justice, and has called on all three branches of the state to uphold the Constitution.
Former PG Ahmed Muizz resigned from his post in November shortly before the parliament was due to vote on a no-confidence motion against him.
A month later, the Criminal Court suspended all ongoing cases and decided not to accept cases filed by the PG’s Office, claiming that the constitution stipulates a new PG must be appointed within 30 days of vacancy.
The Supreme Court ordered the Criminal Court to restart trials, but the court has refused to accept new cases, only resuming those already started. Deputy PG Hussein Shameem then sought a second Supreme Court order, with the Criminal Court again refusing to cooperate.
The lower court has argued that the order stated that cases must be accepted as per regulations – which it suggests would be breached by beginning trials in the absence of a new PG.
Shameem has responded to the court’s claims by pointing out that it had failed to specify which regulations the PG’s Office has violated.
“There is no such regulation. I have not seen a regulation that says so,” he told Minivan News.
He has argued that the Majlis’ delay in appointing a PG must not obstruct a citizen’s right to seek justice.
The backlog of cases pending at the PG office as a result of the Criminal Court’s refusal to accept cases has now reached 533, Shaheem has revealed – this figure includes 196 cases of suspects in pre-trial detention.
In December, President Abdulla Yameen nominated his nephew Maumoon Hameed for the position. Parliament broke for recess at the end of the year, however, after having forwarded the nominee for vetting by the independent institutions committee.
The committee’s chair, MP Ahmed Sameer – who recently defected from the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to the government-aligned Jumhooree Party – told newspaper Haveeru shortly after the Supreme Court issued its order that the vetting process was stalled due to lack of cooperation from political parties.
While one committee meeting, scheduled to take place during the ongoing recess to interview the nominee, was canceled upon request by pro-government MPs, Sameer said a second attempt to meet was unsuccessful as MDP MPs had opposed it.