JSC member calls for open public inquiry into judicial reappointments

Police cordoned the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) on Monday morning, preventing its staff from working or entering the building, while the President’s Office summoned members of the judicial oversight body for questioning at an 11am meeting.

A statement from the Maldives Police Service (MPS) said the office was closed by police at the request of President Mohamed Nasheed, to prevent “unlawful and unconstitutional work from taking place.”

Police cited Article 115[a] of the Constitution, which concerns the powers of the President and reads that he “must faithfully implement the provisions of this Constitution and the law, and to promote compliance by organs of the State and by the people.”

Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said the President requested police investigate the institution after hearing reports that the JSC had been “open all night acting illegally.”

Speaking to Minivan News, Attorney General Husnu Suood said commission members, including  JSC head and Supreme Court Justice Mujthaz Fahmy, met President Mohamed Nasheed and explained that the commission was attempting to finalise work on the reappointment of 160 sitting judges before the Constitutional deadline of August 7.

A complaint that papers had been illegally removed from the premises had proven unfounded, Suood added, noting that following the meeting the President had asked police to remove the cordon.

“I think the present criteria for judges, as determined on July 27, is acceptable, subject to the 37 judges who have been identified as having criminal records,” Suood said.

The President’s member on the JSC, Aishath Velezinee, has submitted a complaint to Parliament’s Independent Commissions Committee (ICC) alleging that the “substandards” being used to grant life tenure to judges appointed under the former administration would “rob the country of an honest judiciary, as guaranteed under Article 285 of the Constitution.”

“Most [of the current judges] haven’t completed primary school,” she told Minivan News in a recent interview.

Suood said that “If there is evidence of corruption and political fixing of the judicial appointments, then I support the President’s actions [today].”

The Attorney General added that he was not convinced of the integrity of the current Supreme Court: “I do not trust it. I see certain incidents occurring that I am having to think about,” he said.

Velezinee has appealed to the Independent Commissions Committee (ICC) to issue an injunction preventing the reappointment of judges pending an investigation of the JSC.

Minivan News understands that a meeting between the JSC and the ICC today focused on the procedural functioning of the commission, and not the complaints made against it.

Prior to this meeting on Monday, staff at the commission confided that they were ordered into the commission on Sunday night and had been kept up working until 2:00am printing letters of reappointment for the judges, Velezinee explained.

A staff member from the Supreme Court was also observed to be directing proceedings, Velezinee alleged, claiming that this was a clear violation of the JSC’s independence.

“The first to be processed was Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, Abdulla Mohamed. He was convicted in 2000 for violating the Religious Unity Act and disobeying orders,” she claimed.

The JSC has argued that convictions for crimes under the former Constitution should not be a barrier for reappointment, and should instead be determined on a case-by-case basis.

“At the same time they are trying to restore the same culture that [issued those convictions],” Velezinee stated.

“Presenting the letters of reappointment is the final step [of the reappointments]. The judges have to first perform an oath-taking ceremony arranged by the Supreme Court at the instruction of the JSC, but none of the JSC staff know anything about this. The commission members are being very secretive,” Velezinee said.

She further accused commission members of ordering the tampering of evidence submitted to the ICC.

“Two days ago the Secretary General admitted to me that recordings of meetings were edited ‘for ease of use,'” she claimed, “and recordings were cut before being sent to the Majlis so they would fit on one CD.”

It was also common practice for the commission to edit her out of the meeting minutes, she explained, and members were regularly given insufficient information on which to base their votes.

“I believe the public should have access to the full transcripts and recordings of the meetings,” she said. “The people will be outraged.”

Velezinee called for an open and transparent public inquiry into the activities of the JSC, with the participation of impartial mediators from an organisation such as the UN or the International Committee of Jurists, acceptable to both sides, “as we do not have anyone impartial enough [in the Maldives].”

“The judiciary is the foundation that will uphold the future of our country,” Velezinee said. “I want the opportunity to write a report, but have not yet been given the chance – all the evidence is available, and the public needs to hear this. If I am wrong they can shoot me.”

Minivan News attempted on several occasions to contact JSC President Mujthaz Fahmy and Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid, but they were not responding at time of press.


14 thoughts on “JSC member calls for open public inquiry into judicial reappointments”

  1. "The JSC has argued that convictions for crimes under the former Constitution should not be a barrier for reappointment."

    That is utter rubbish. If someone has been convicted of a crime, that cannot be erased just because of an Amendment to the Constitution.

    It's not a 'former' Constitution! It's the same Constitution that has been Amended. Remember how Gayyoom fought tooth and nail over this? How convenient it is that the judges who are supposed to uphold the laws, suddenly turn around words to their advantage.

    The President should not allow these people to break the laws laid down by the Constitution (amended).

  2. The government should not fall into these traps. These are being laid out by the likes of Yaameen and Co. It's a bit like the IRA in Norther Ireland. Whilst the 'political wing' carry on negotiations with the government the 'military' wing is terrorising the nation.

    What they'd like to happen is some rash action by the Police or the President. Then the 'political wing' will fly off delegations to the four corners of the world screaming...

  3. Politicians at both ends of the political spectrum need to understand that if the system allows for judges to be bribed and/or coerced with ease then it can potentially harm members and wellwishers of both parties.

    The "lifetime appointments" can be reversed with sufficient political will and bipartisan support. Acts of Parliament concerning the Judiciary can stipulate, with no ambiguity, that appointments made during the interim period can and should be overturned or pegged to a suitable timeframe to allow investigations into allegations of corrupt practices and abuse of power while also providing the necessary impetus to pursue further training.

    While such training will always be available to those who wish to avail themselves of the opportunity, especially considering the financial wellbeing of judges, limited or no knowledge of academic languages such as English or Arabic (especially English as FDIs entering the Maldives use the Queen's language) will hamper individual judges' ability to acquire further knowledge. As unpopular as this statement might seem, those adults (young persons can acquire languages with ease) who cannot read/write/speak (to a level which would provide access to sophisticated legal discourse) English or Arabic will HAVE to step down or risk becoming obsolete and eventually redundant.

  4. velezinee knows how to get media attention. at least attention from minivan news. all this time i thought she was right running up and down the street in a fight against the devil. but now hearing what suood (also a member of JSC) has to say and the importance of appointing judges before august 7th deadline, i got to say velezinee is just on a high. looks like even the president recieved wrong information from her which lead to police taking over the JSC. as soon as president found out the real story, he removed the police from JSC.

    “The first to be processed was Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, Abdulla Mohamed. He was convicted in 2000 for violating the Religious Unity Act and disobeying orders,” velezinee claimed.

    i think someone need to remind her that our president was convicted of robbery but the supreme court decided he could run for presidency sighting that his trial wasnt fair and the laws under which he was convicted doesnt apply anymore.

  5. Whatever JSC is attempting to do is 'boderline' constitutiona, argues some lawyers.

    But the point is, the supreme purpose of the constitution is to deliver justice and it should be above all other constitutional obligations.

    If there is reasonable belief that the juges are inapt to deliver justice, all other state institutions (not only the executive) must intervene to investigate this and ensure the right people with strong public confidence will be sitting in those chairs.

    I strongly believe that some judges are incapable, corrupt and can be bribed in the future - It does not matter how small or large or widespread rumours are, the fact of the matter is that there is a belief that judeges are corrupt...Re-instating them would do unimaginable damage to consolidating democracy in this country. I agree, Presidents orders are harsh these days; but, what other choice is left? Do we stay and watch in broad day light murderers are walking free? pedophiles can teach in schools? rapists continue to re-victimise innocent people? ....So much lies in the judiciary and so little has been done by the judiciary...and damn right, it needs to be changed, reviewed and standardised ...and perhaps if what Vel is saying is true - send them back to school to finish highschool...

  6. Police Integrity Commission and the Prosecutor General have expressed outrage over what happened yesterday.

    It was rather odd when, talking to the media yesterday, Velenizee complained everyone in JSC holds common thinking and she is just a loner.

  7. So at last Suood has something to say about what is going on at JSC. this coming from someone who doesnt even attend the JSC meetings! and also at a time when the country needs him and support Velezinee!

  8. "The JSC has argued that convictions for crimes under the former Constitution should not be a barrier for reappointment, and should instead be determined on a case-by-case basis". These judges were also appointed under the same Constitution!! Shouldn't the whole damn process be reviewed case by case? this country needs to shed itself of all the corruption and injustice, for heavens sake. Why can't we just do away with those who have proven criminal records and let the new and educated generation contribute to a better life for Maldivians?!

    @Shihab: It is not about the passport now is it. It is about the sorry character of our fellowmen. Listen to yourself for example.

  9. “The JSC has argued that convictions for crimes under the former Constitution should not be a barrier for reappointment.”

    No employer gives a job to someone who have a police record - let alone a record in a court of law.

    Why would anyone with convictions get appointment as a JUDGE?

    Why don't we release all the people behind bars convicted under the former constitution since we have a new constitution?

  10. Velezini said on tv last night that all members of JSC are on one side and she is the only who has a different view. Doesn't this mean anything to Velezini?

  11. Police Integrity Commission and the Prosecutor General have expressed outrage over what happened yesterday.

    It was rather odd when, talking to the media yesterday, Velenizee complained everyone in JSC holds common thinking and she is just a loner.

  12. An article written by the President’s political appointee Ms Farahnaz Faisal calling President Nasheed the Maldives, “Obama” written in the Guardian received an onslaught of angry rebuttals by the Maldivian people still getting head hunted on a daily basis by the militias that are put in the streets by the President and his party MDP. It was only yesterday some members of the Judiciary outside their residences, were attacked by the paramilitary mob recruited and sponsored by the President. The ground reality is the Maldivian people are living in fear of the government sponsored mobs that have been engaging in violent attacks against opposition supporters, members of the Judiciary and the Parliament not only now but since the new government came to power.
    One of the comments stated,
    “It’s a shame that you are referring Dictator Mohamed Nasheed as the Obama of Asia. Mr. Nasheed fits very well the indication of president Obama during his speech in Cairo ” some leaders come to power in the name of democracy but once they are in power they turn to be dictators”.
    You have also given gross misinformation in your article.
    Referring to Hon. Gasim Ibrahim you referred to him as the finance minister of Gayoom. Please use his last post in government which is Nasheed’s government first Home Minister and coalition partner of Mr. Nasheed to become the president.
    Also you referred Dr. Hassan Saeed as the former attorney general. But Dr. Hassan is the first Advisor to President Mr. Nasheed and coalition partner who helped Nasheed to come to power. Dr. Hassan is also the Attorney general who said that multi party system can be introduced. To his advice only former president Gayoom allowed militia party system in the country.
    When you speak corruption it’s a big laughing stock. Because Ms. Farah Naz you yourself is appointed as the high commissioner in London because you lived there in UK and is relative of Mr. Nasheed and belong to so called royal family of Maldives. So its natural when you are appointed you get accommodation on expensive villas in London free and paid fat salaries. You are paid huge amounts of money from peoples pocket and so far you have failed to carry out any tangible work in there.
    Also you should have told British people the way Nasheed is ruling this country like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
    1. He attacked civil servants of the country
    2. Detained opposition leaders
    3. No Jobs for non members of his party
    4. Attack of judiciary and established a street court
    5. Bribes opposition MPs and gave brand new BMW to Feydhoo constituency MP to join his party
    6. Sold Telecommunication Company below market price
    7. Tried to lease Male’ airport to Indian GRM without parliament approval below market price and not transparent bidding system
    8. Gave islands to develop resorts to his close friends
    9. Forced his cabinet to resign and go for street violence to intimidate MPs and opposition
    And many more.
    Definitely he is the New Mugabe of Asia.”

    While Ms Faisal was trying to paint a rosy picture of Mohamed Nasheed as the President the anguish that people currently feel and the truth about how Mohamed Nasheed came to power and how he is behaving since; is revealed in a comment that stated, “Definitely Mr. Mohamed Nasheed of Kenereege is the Mugabe of Asia.
    He came to power in disguise of portraying as the person who loves democracy.
    But as soon as he managed to get the top post with the help of Gasim Ibrahim, Dr. Hassan Saeed and Dr. Waheed he chased all of them away except Waheed because he is the wise president.
    Mr. Nasheed only got 15 percent in the first round of presidential election. Total he got for the first round is around 25% that Nasheed’s 15% and Waheed’s 10%.
    However, during the second round Dr. Hassan Saeed’s & Aims percentage added to 54%. He accepted and finger printed a contract to give 30%of the government to Jumhoori Party as a coalition partner. But Later refused to give. He also appointed Dr. Hassan as the advisor to president but never listened to his advice so he was forced to resign. Mr. Nasheed fired Dhiyana Saeed his first attorney general because she gave a legal opinion that he didn’t like. He fired communication minister Dr. Jameel because he said Nasheed’s government should learn how to govern without parliamentary majority during parliamentary election.
    Mr. Nasheed is cannot digest decisions of opposition controlled parliament. So now he wants to deface and undermine parliament of Maldives. State media has been hijacked.
    People of Maldives live in fear now. Because his activists are creating chaos in the streets and using police and military of Maldives against the constitution.
    So to cut short Nasheed never respected democracy he just used it to come to power.
    If there is an election in Maldives today only 20% of people will vote for him. We are fed up of his lies“.

    Similarly another commentator stated,
    Dear Ms Faisal,
    Your article would have been better received were you not indebted to President Nasheed for appointing you to your current position as Maldivian High Commissioner to the UK, entirely without merit and not based on any prior service to your country. Indeed, being one of the highest-remunerated beneficiaries in President Nasheed’s nepotism-filled administration (to name just one, I understand the current Minister of Defence is a member of your family?), it is entirely understandable that you should praise Nasheed to the high heavens.
    However, your inherent partiality aside, your article suffers from glaring misrepresentations:
    - there were no journalists or prisoners of conscience imprisoned to be released by President Nasheed; could you name a single one? On the other hand, kindly refer to news reports of the period which described the immense public outcry when President Nasheed summarily pardoned convicted drug offenders and other violent criminals onto the streets of the capital; perhaps these are the prisoners of conscience you were referring to?
    - there was only one jail in the Maldives when President Nasheed took office; please note that it was this regime that opened the country’s second jail in the farthest-flung corner of the Maldives in an island whose former inhabitants had been relocated by the previous government due to the island being continually isolated from the rest of the atoll even given the slightest inclement weather. No information has yet been released as to who are the prisoners (enemy combatants, perhaps?) who have been banished to our very own Chateau d’If. Seeing as you are occupied in London, it might have escaped your notice that the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives has also condemned the prison conditions as inhumane?
    - President Nasheed’s “modest bungalow” is the former palace of the Sultans of the Maldives; the secretive “essential refurbishments” required to prepare the 18-room mansion (not including a 12-room annexe) for the First Couple’s arrival is currently the subject of corruption investigations by the independent Anti-Corruption Commission.
    - re your assertion of dismantling corrupt networks, presumably this sterling effort included the summary dissolution of the elected local development committees on each inhabited island (190 in all) and their replacement with loyal party members as committees appointed by the Home Minister and “councillors” appointed by President Nasheed himself? Not to mention the expropriation, almost entirely always under threat of police intervention, of all communal assets, power distribution machinery & equipment, and the seizing of an average per island of a couple of hundred of thousands of Maldivian Rufiyaa (in some well-publicised cases, the amount was in excess of two million rufiyaa) in community development funds? This despite the fact that some island communities obtained local magistrates’ rulings that all forcibly seized assets were to be returned immediately, as well as a landmark Civil Court ruling that the elected committees were dissolved unlawfully?
    - would your references to “breaking up the patronage system and freeing people for independent lives” also include the dismissal (under the guise of cost-cutting) of thousands of civil servants and slashing the pay packets of the remainder to near-impoverishment levels (with arbitrary reductions of up to one-half of the salaries of the most lowly civil servants) whilst simultaneously appointing cronies to ministerial-level “political posts” at ludicrously-high wages? For example, most of the civil servants dismissed “to save the Treasury money” earned less than Mrf 4,000 per month on average; on the other hand, each of the more than six hundred new political appointees earns approximately MRf 15,000 per month. Do the math, Ms Faisal. No corruption, cronyism or nepotism here, obviously.
    - Much as President Nasheed would like to take credit, the state pension introduced under the Pensions Act 2008 to replace the earlier pensions schemes, introduced by President Gayoom in the early Eighties under the name of “Provident Funds” and long-service pensions, was itself promulgated into law under President Gayoom. A grace period of 2 years (from May 2008 till May 2010) was provided to allow for both public and private sectors to implement this, which is why you’re only hearing about it now.
    - you fail to reveal that the MPs being hounded by the regime were first arrested on charges of attempting to overthrow the government; when these charges were ridiculed, they were replaced by corruption allegations based upon, as the police stated to the court, a letter sent by the President’s Office. Leave aside the fact that the Supreme Court ruled that the police had acted unconstitutionally; nothing must be allowed to get in the way of massaging the message.

    The real truth about President Nasheed is he is the first Democratically elected leader who declared himself a Dictator on the eve of the series of unconstitutional arrests he carried out; by stating that he is the Head of the Military and the Maldives Police Force (both made independent under the new Constitution adopted in 2008) and he will use whatever force necessary to conduct those arrests. After deploying the armoured military with full gear into the streets, he kept on arresting people in fact exceeding the, “200″ mark in the current political crisis alone. After arresting MP’s belonging to the opposition parties, he stated that he will do anything he wants and will act unconstitutionally ( his exact words were, “outside the Constitution”) if he feels that it is in his best interest.
    Appointing family members, close friends like Ms Faisal and brother Ameen Faisal, as Defence Minister, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, brother in laws, sister in laws, convicted murders like Abdulla Shahid is the nepotic norm adopted by President Nasheed.
    The armed force or the Military in our term, the Police mobilised by him to crackdown on opposition supporters, violent mob of supporters simultaneously attacking the people working for the independent pillars of democracy, the Judiciary and the Parliament as well as on opposition supporters is a dictatorial attack implemented for the first time by a President and that President is Nasheed.
    A true Obama will not carry out arbitrary arrests, neither will bring sedition charges against his political opponents and definitely will not exercise retaliation based on suspicions. Carrying out arbitrary arrests of opposition politicians and supporters is not a feature of a democrat, but that of a Dictator.
    People in the Maldives their rights are violated and all over the country under President Nasheed people fear for their lives due to the violent mob predominantly consisting of violent prisoners released by the President conducting daily attacks on individuals deemed as non-supporters as can be seen by the violent daily attacks that are still carried out against members of the Judiciary and the Parliament.
    Civilian deaths in the prison, deaths of people taken in for questioning have been making headlines in the local newspapers like never before in the country’s history. The exact number of victims are not clear as only few cases comes out in the media that is heavily controlled by the President with a creation of a Media control Board and appointment of family members to head over it.
    To do what he wants President Nasheed issues decrees as he pleases, including the creation of the infamous Presidential Commission by decree to investigate and bring corruption charges against former government officials belonging to President Maumoon’s tenure as well as in conducting the arrest of Leader of PA Yamin and Leader of JP Gasim.
    The real truth is we are in a political crises because contradictory to Ms Faisal’s Nasheed Maldives Obama claim, he has become more irrational, erratic and frantic than the like of Dictators such as Banda and Mugabe. His outspoken claims made in the Broadcasting media which he controls and in his party meetings on the eve of getting his mob to march and attack politicians in their homes, or on the eve of most arrests he make are evidence to this.
    A catalogue of broadcasts made by him through the state controlled Radio Maldives and the TV Maldives are evidence to how he repeatedly declares himself a Dictator, which perhaps are not heard in the High Commission headed by Ms Faisal.
    When it comes to the Environment Nasheed has become a comical figure all over the world and within Maldives the people deem it as a rather dire PR stunt to hold on to power and rejuvenate the long lost popularity. His notorious acts as a Dictator spanning out of control means attempts in this regard remain futile and unconvincing
    The truth is Mohamed Nasheed is the Maldives Mugabe who knowingly and sometimes unknowingly declares himself a dictator. If there are people like Ms Faisal around him trying to hide him from his own reality, his short volatile temper, outrageous narcissism, self adulation will worsen making him the Asian Hitler .


  13. "enough!": I would still continue to believe that a public servant telling the people “... we do not have anyone impartial enough [in the Maldives].” is an insult to this country and its people.


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