Jameel and Dunya to defend Maldives’ human rights record at UNHRC

The Maldives’ government will on Thursday defend its human rights record to the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) in Geneva.

The delegation will be headed by Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel, former Justice Minister under the 30 year rule of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and co-author of a pamphlet entitled ‘President Nasheed’s devious plot to destroy the Islamic faith of Maldivians’, published in January 2012 while in opposition.

Dr Jameel will be accompanied by State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dunya Maumoon – Gayoom’s daughter – as well as the Maldives’ Permanent Representative in Geneva, Iruthisham Adam, Counsellor Marc Limon (formerly of PR firm Hill & Knowlton), Third Secretary Muruthala Moosa, and four interns: Marie Gabrielle Glock, Katherine Hamilton, Jessi Challis and Rinaldo Foncesca.

The UNHRC has already identified key issues to be taken up with the Maldives, concerning its International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) commitments. A document outlining these issues – drawn from the country’s Universal Periodic Review (with submissions from government, HRCM and civil society), was published in August 2011 – prior to the controversial change of government and fresh allegations of police brutality and attacks on journalists.

Issues identified in the 2011 document include counterterrorism measures, commitment to reducing discrimination (including on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, and religion), and prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.

One specific issue identified was the move in parliament to make the enforcement of the death penalty mandatory where such a verdict is upheld by the Supreme Court, which would place the Maldives in breach of its ICCPR commitments.

Dr Jameel last week stated he was willing to implement death penalty in his capacity as Home Minister. Supreme Court Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz also said he was willing to enforce such verdicts, as the Maldives struggles to come to terms with a sudden wave of violent crime and murder this year.

The ICCPR document asks whether prison personnel responsible for the death of Evan Naseem – a watershed moment in Maldivian political history that sparked democratic reform – had been investigated, and faced justice.

The document challenges the Maldives’ commitment to combating domestic violence and sexual assault in general: “According to information before the Committee, in the absence of a confession, a man can only be convicted of rape if there are two male or four female witnesses to the act. How does this comply with the Covenant?”

It also asks the Maldives to clarify its position on corporal punishment, whereby flogging sentences are routinely given for offences under Islamic sharia. The topic is sensitive in the Maldives, with UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay widely condemned in the Maldives following her call in parliament for a moratorium on the flogging of women as punishment for extramarital sex.

The UN document – produced in August 2011 – also calls on the government to clarify matters surrounding the nine-day detention without charge of MP Abdulla Yameen, then “leader of the opposition”, and challenges the government on issues relating to prison conditions, overcrowding, and lack of a legal aid scheme.

The document calls for the government to explain the country’s treatment of migrant workers, and in particular, “explain the measures being taken to deal with the trafficking of individuals from Bangladesh and India, who are mainly trafficked into the State party for labour and commercial sex exploitation.”
The document also requests the Maldives justify its reservation to article 18 of the ICCPR concerning freedom of religion, specifically the practice of religions other than Sunni Islam by the country’s largest population of foreign nationals.

It also calls on the Maldivian government to respond to allegations of “widespread harassment and intimidation” of journalists.

On June 4, well-known blogger and journalist Ismail ‘Hilath’ Rasheed had his throat cut in what appeared to be the first targeted assassination attempt of a media figure in the Maldives. Rasheed, who had been attacked multiple times prior to the attempt on his life, survived, and has since fled the country. Rasheed claimed he was attacked by radicalised gang members who were operating with the consent of “senior political and religious figures.”

Government response

The government of the Maldives responded to the list of issues earlier this month, ahead of its session with the committee later in July.

It acknowledged “efficiency and effectiveness” challenges with the local Human Rights Commission (HRCM).

“Notwithstanding, the government believes that HRCM already possesses necessary human and financial resources. It is worth noting that at a time of severe
economic difficulties in the Maldives, the HRCM has a budget of 22 million rufiyaa ($1.4 million – an extremely large sum considering the small economy and small population of the Maldives) and a staff of over 50 officials,” the response noted.

The Maldives had made considerable progress on issues of gender discrimination, the government stated, and towards addressing domestic violence with the introduction of a relevant bill.

On the subject of discrimination based on sexual preference, the Maldives had no specific law banning homosexuality, the government noted, however “article 10 of the Constitution of the Maldives states that the religion of the State of Maldives is Islam and Islam shall be the one of the basis of all the laws of the Maldives. Therefore, no law contrary to any tenet of Islam shall be enacted in the Maldives.”

“This excludes the possibility of enacting any law protecting the rights of persons based on their sexual orientation,” the government stated, adding that 23 people had been formally charged for homosexuality between 2007-2011.

With regard to article 18 on the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, “the reservation states that the application of the principles set out in article 18 will be without prejudice to the Constitution of the Maldives,” the government stated.

“Chapter II of the Constitution on fundamental rights and freedoms does not include, among the rights guaranteed, freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”

Regarding concerns over the introduction of the death penalty, the government noted that the referred bill was a proposed amendment to the Clemency Act “which will make performing the death penalty mandatory in the event it was upheld by the Supreme Court.

“The amendment is proposed in an effort to stop crimes of murder and violence. The death toll in the Maldives has increased recently to a level of great concern and it is in the view that if death penalty or capital punishment is enforced it would reduce crime rate,” the government stated.

While corporal punishment was not explicitly prescribed in the penal code, it was administered for “certain offences prescribed in Sharia.”

“The government is, however, looking at ways to ensure that the punishment is not applied in a discriminatory manner. At present, women are far more likely to be publicly flogged than men – mostly because of outdated court procedures such as reliance on confessions rather than forensic evidence – though as noted above this is changing,” the government stated.

Yameen’s detention on the Presidential retreat at Aarah by the government of President Mohamed Nasheed “acted in contravention of the prescribed 24 hour rule and did not follow due process in dealing with political opponents on a number of occasions,” the government stated.

“Mr Yameen Abdul Gayoom‟s arrest and detention – by the police on an isolated island [Aarah] without access to a lawyer or to his family, were arbitrary and unlawful,” the government said.

On human trafficking, the government outlined measures it was taking to address international concerns and provide support for victims, including “a 24/7 toll-free help line to be announced shortly.”

“Language training is to be provided for the staff of Department of Immigration and Emigration and Labour Relations Authority (LRA) or translators are to be placed at borders to assist in identification of victims and providing necessary assistance to the victims,” the government stated. The country recently appeared on the US State Department’s Tier 2 Watch List for Human Trafficking for the third year running.

The government denied harassment and intimidation of journalists. Instead, “media freedom has remained steady with the constitution protecting freedom of expression but also restricting freedom of speech contrary to the tenets of Islam.”

While the government blocked websites controversial to Islam, ”the government is working to ensure the media is free to tackle any subject. It was by the current administration of President Dr Waheed Hassan who took office in February 2012 that Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation was handed over to the Parliament-created Maldives Broadcasting Corporation that had ended executive control of the media.”

A number of NGOs, including Redress, the Helios Life Association, the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and social services veteran and former State Health Minister Mariya Ali have submitted reports and evidence to the panel, which is to be webcast live.

Minivan News will review these submissions this week ahead of the Maldives’ appearance in Geneva.


21 thoughts on “Jameel and Dunya to defend Maldives’ human rights record at UNHRC”

  1. A good summary of issues on the agenda Minivan.

    The implication in the headline and following passages are understandable given your particular bias in favor of the MDP.

    However I strongly believe, based on the track records of both Ms. Maumoon and Dr. Jameel, that they have the capacity to respond to the UNHRC's concerns in a professional manner.

    The attack on Hilath is of course regrettable and an investigation should be carried out into the incident. There have been allegations both explicitly and implicitly made against religious communities in relation to the attack on Hilath. Such speculation should be strongly condemned and the media should be reminded of their duties with regards to discouraging discrimination based on religious belief. A murderer is a murderer regardless of whether he is a Protestant Christian, Scientologist, Muslim or Rastafarian.

  2. Dr.Jameel and Ms.Maumoon might be extremely professional and full of capacity.. I wonder how they are going to explain the brutality which followed after the resignation of President Nasheed. UNHRC cannot be assumed as blind not to see it.. tsk tsk tsk tsk

  3. @kutti nasheed/tsk tsk

    The attack on Hilath was carried out by ultra-religious wahhabi/salafi thugs. This is not speculation, it's a fact.

  4. Regarding the attack on gay hilath. Who was the one who carried him to the hospital? It was an off duty police officer who is a devoted and a pious muslim.

  5. @tsk tsk on Sun, 8th Jul 2012 9:26 PM

    "... and the media should be reminded of their duties with regards to discouraging discrimination based on religious belief."

    Oh dear! The pot is calling the kettle black! We should remind ourselves that the Maldives fails to abide by its international obligations regarding respect for ALL religions.

    The figure involved in this very story, Jameel has been linked with anti-Semitic and otherwise inflammatory articles with respect to other faiths.

    It's not the media that's at fault, but the whole country since it fails to abide by its responsibilities.

  6. Maldives is an awful place, badly governed and lacking in almost every basic freedom cherished in Western societies.

    I have myself stayed away from the Maldives, from Nasir's time, through Gayoom's time, and even after the fall of Gayoom, because my life and liberty would be in danger in the Maldives.

    Almost all Maldivians writing comments to Minivannews avoid using their real names because they are afraid. They also lack character and guts.

    Maldives is a land of crooks.

    The justice system is simply terrible.

    Politicians in the Maldives must be among the least honest in the whole world.

    After 30 years of dictatorship, Gayoom Didi is still a hero and almost divine to many Maldivians. That speaks volumes in itself.

    Islamic learning has been over-emphasised and over-admired in the Maldives. The result is that we have highly educated but very intolerant and selfish individuals in high places in the Maldives.

    The Maldivian officials who are going to Geneva to defend Maldivian human-rights record are simply incapable of admitting and doing what is needed.

    Maldives needs top-down reform fast and on a massive scale.

    I think that is what Mohamed Nasheed tried to do.

    He, of course, failed.

  7. The whole world realises that the extreme old dictatorship has returned by force.

  8. @tsk tsk
    What's this nonsense about speculation? Hilath himself seen his attackers, the police have CCTV footage identifying them and still they're roaming free. So again, why are you confusing fact with speculation?

    The fact that you support the 'professionalism' of the daughter of a 30 year cruel dictator who has brought about an authoritative reversal in a coup and one of his right hand men, author of a pamphlet full of the most childish lies about a democratically elected president of an Islamic country planning the construction of churches and holding another one of these foney Malaysian doctorates, who has yet to prove he actually is in fact a doctor, says a lot about your own integrity, now doesn't it? Tsk Tsk.

  9. All three institutions of the government, executive judiciary and executive have failed our people.

  10. tsk tsk. ive had enough your bs now. really. do you need some cash to stop that? speculation eh!? what about when you were propaganda minister of gayoom and you broadcast all that about his opponents?

    for a self-proclaimed "media expert", ur really ignorant about these things dude. media/journalists can say that it was an act of religious fundies based on their sources (which btw, they dont have to tell you). they can all say that "allegations" are made against them, if it is so. they dont have to wait for a supreme court decision for that. just cause ur in to law doesnt mean everything is about lawers and courts. it is really COMMON KNOWLEDGE that there is extremism here. and there are radicals and violent fundies here. you and your master may keep denying it, we know it for a fact.

  11. Excellent choice Waheed. I couldnt think of a better person to represent Maldives at UNHRC either. Since this is such an importan meeting it would be wise to include a bagage boy and a masseur in the team aswell

  12. Hahahaha and now the fat kids with messy fingers have to explain what happened to the cake.

  13. Sensible people throughout the world questions why a miniscule country like Maldives (without minorities and ethnic conflicts), joined the UN Human rights commission and try to speak over its its size.

    Despite all the fancy slogans about democracy, in Maldives citizens take policy as a given, without questioning the merit or the costs. The average citizen in islands are certainly not convinced. Yesterday Madifushi school was closed by parents (sun.mv/20005) due to lack of money for teachers and text books.

    But certain policy makers in Maldives have justified joining HRC, clearly out of personal interests, to maintain their perpetual influence, even though joing UNHRC is totally disproportionate with the needs and resources of the country.

    But the show will go on as long as it provides an opportunity for senior Government offcials to travel to Europe. At the end of the thats the determinat factor in policy making - ie, travel opportunities.

  14. 30 އަހަރުގެ ޚުދުމުޚުތާރު ވެރިކަމެއްކޮށް، ކޮރަޕްޝަނުގެ ބޮޑެތި ޢަމަލުތައް ހިންގި ބަޔަކު ޑިމޮކްރަސީގެ ފޭސް މާސްކު އަޅައިގެން ރައްޔިތުން ކުރިމައްޗައް ނިކުމެ ސަރުކާރު ޖަވާބުދާރީ ކުރުވާށޭ، މިއީ އެމެރިކާ ފަދަ ތަރައްޤީ ވެފައިވާ ޑިމޮކްރަސީ ތަކުގައި ވެސް އޮންނަ ގޮތޭ ކިއުމުން ރައްޔިތުން ހީކުރީ މިމީހުން މިތިބީ ތައުބާވެ އިޞްލާޙުވެގެން ކަމަށް. އެ ބާރު ހޯދަން ބޭނުންވީ އެމީހުންގެ ކޮރަޕްޓް ޢަމަލުތައް ބެލިޔަނުދީ މުޅި ސިސްޓަމް ހިޞާރުކުރުމަށްކަމެއް ރައްޔިތުންނަކަށް ހިއެއްނުކުރެވުނު. ރައްޔިތުމީހާ ވިސްނީ ސިޔާސީ ޚުދުމުޚުތާރުމީހާ ވެސް ރައްޔިތުމީހާހާ ތެދުވެރިވެ، ޤަޥްމަށް ވަފާތެރިވާނެކަމަށް. ހިއެއްނުކުރޭ ޙަޞީލަތް ނުބައި ބައެއްކަމަކަށް. އެހެނީ މާސްއަޅައިގެން އުޅޭ ގުރޫޕަކީ ކެމެރާއަކާއި މައިކެއް ފެންނައިރަށް އާދެ ލައްބަ، ފަރުދާގެ ފުރަގަހުގައި ވަކަރުގޭގެ ކުދިންނަށްވުރެ ޙާލު ބޮޑު ބައެއް. މި ޙަޤީޤަތް ފަޅާއެރިއިރު ރައްޔިތުމީހާ އެންމެ ޅައެއްޗަކުން ސިސްޓަމް ރައްޔިތުމީހާގެ އަތުން ބީވެއްޖެ. އާދެ! މިނިވަން މުއައްޞަޞާތަކުގެ ނަމުގައި އުންމީދާއި އެކު އުފެއްދި 22 މުއައްޞަޞާ ވެސް އެވަނީ 30 އަހަރުގެ ވެރިކަމުގެ ޚުދުމުޚުތާރީން އަތުލާފަ.

  15. The Maldivian needs to change their brain to break the illusion and come to reality. The people of this simple country have a very simple brain who are unable to break the illusion to get in to real world. Jameel has an illusion that he follows the best religion from a supreme being, so he is right and there is no question of human rights as far as he is concerned. In his definition human rights is totally different than what a western point of view is. He thinks the robbers hand is less worth than what he robs, Killing is right if some has killed other person and even killing is right when someone changes his opinion about the nature and the origin of universe. In Jameel’s view human being are not human if anyone has different opinion than what Jameel’s brain is conditioned from childhood. So this is not Jameels problem, his reality is not what modern democratic values are based. Let him define his reality in this forum, But one thing is real that the world Jameel lives is not the same we human right champions live.

  16. Haha! Maldives going to defend their human rights record? This is very similar to those Juha jokes that we used to hear when we were all little. I am not muslim and that technically has taken away my Maldivian citizenship. I can't reveal this to people because my life might be in danger or the government will arrest me and force me to convert back to Islam. Maldivian politicians are extremely racist and xenophobic and insult foreign people and their beliefs/culture on a daily basis. I will be writing to the UNHRC even if it doesn't make a difference to let them know why everything Jameel and co would probably say is a lie.

  17. Im on the same boat w you Wives and Concubines , I know Islam is disgusting and the most uncivilised thoughts of all religions muslims got. This is sad our whole community was brainwashed by mullas creating hatred !

  18. Noor (LIGHT) is indeed shedding light here.

    Why was Jameel not using his exceptional talents to write Pamphlets promoting the Mercy of Islam to create the much needed culture of Empathy between Maldivians rather than writing something against ex-President Nasheed.

    I am desparate that the culture of fear and amorality ends in the Maldives, and desparate for Mercy to spread amonst ppl!

    Even if Nasheed was against Islam, this was NOT the way to promote the Merciful essence of Allah!

  19. Ben Plewright. All this because you want to convince your daughter that you're not going to an imaginary hell. You have a rather distorted view of Islam.

  20. Wives and Concubines
    I don't care which religion u are practicing.. And I remind u that u have no right to insult Islam whatever religion you are in..

  21. @Wives and Concubines : You would ALMOST have been right if you said that for about a month last year, but, not anymore, I believe in Islam from my heart of hearts and have sincerely repented. My concern at this point is truly my hope to see more empathy in Maldives, less violence, less fear.

    I admit, I have been torn up about religion, confused, and yes I mean, in my most painful moments of doubt I put on a face of staunch Iman for my children, because they are only children less than 12. Their Mother brings them up as strict Muslims. My children can read any Arabic, recite heaps of prayers.

    They have this idea, that their Mothers homeland (they were really only babies when we were in Maldives so all they remember is the love of our Maldivian family) is this Islamic paradise where everybody loves and cares for one another. They do not know the names of Anni, or Maumoon, or Judge Abdullah, or Yameen, or anybody else. They are totally innocent, little children, they pray five times a day, go Qur'an classes weekly, Arabic classes, and believe Islam is all about Mercy and Compassion.

    What is so tragic, is that, this is what we were told, by a Maldivian, whom I love dearly and who I assumed loved my Kids dearly, please, take a moment to digest the injustice of this. The words were, "because of the stuff Ben has said, on minivannews, Hilath's blog, not only is Ben in danger if he comes here, he has broken our law, but you and the kids are in danger as well!"

    Considering what my kids believe, can you, could you begin to imagine the injustice of them being threatened because of MY confusion!

    Wives and Concubines: If I seemed rude to you telling you not to call Hilath a liar, please forgive me, I mean, you are correct and I respect your view that Maldives does not deserve a place on the Human rights council etc... you must be angry, as we all are, and I really feel for you that you have to call yourself Wives and Concubines. But, please don't increase the danger for innocent human beings by reminding people of what I have said in the past.

    I am not frightened for my sake, dear Wives and Concubines, but at the end of the day I am a Father of Maldivian children and I do have a responsibilty towards their welfare. yOU SEE, for reasons that i cannot go into I, well at least the children must go back to Maldives. Yes, the responsibity I have towards my children, I have already betrayed that enough by sprouting out my problems, beliefs and doubts for the world (maldivian world anyway) to see. I mean, if i wanted to live a life as a martyr for the sake of truth and human rights, I should not have had a family. It was very selfish of me to have acted so irresponiby in the name of freedom!

    In my defence, I deeply underestimated how unjust and cruel Maldivians could actually be, I mean, I have always been prepared to die and suffer for what I believe, living in fear is a crueller death than death, but I HAD NO IDEA that my family would be threatened, I mean, I never DREAMED that the Maldivians could be THAT UNJUST to think of hurting innocent children because of the delusions of their psychotic Father! THAT is hard for me to comprehend, it breaks my heart, it breaks my heart and makes me so aNGRY, AND AFRAID, i CANNOT THINK STRAIGHT.

    But I have told you the truth, and it is a sad, sad, sad truth.


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