The Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) has told local media that while Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed had “not been subject to any form of physical abuse“ during his controversial 22 day detention, attempts had been made to violate his fundamental human rights.
Haveeru today reported that HRCM President Mariyam Azra had said that its investigation had uncovered evidence that the judge, who was detained during the administration of former President Mohamed Nasheed over allegations that he posed a threat to national security, had faced attempts to remove him from his post and send him abroad.
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), who had been in government during the time of Judge Abdulla’s detention, today raised concerns over what it claimed was the “complicit irresponsibility” of the HRCM – a body it alleged was biased towards the political interests of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
Local media reports today claimed that HRCM President Azra had opted against giving the names of those involved in the alleged abuse of the judge’s human rights. HRCM also declined to give any other details at present that could influence any potential trials after charges were filed against Nasheed and several senior figures in the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) this week.
Azra was not responding to calls when contacted by Minivan News at time of press.
The HRCM used today’s press briefing to publicise its concerns that “efforts” had been made to “coerce” the judge to commit unspecified actions that would have contravened his human rights.
Responding to the press briefing, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – of which Nasheed is the current presidential candidate – said it held “serious concerns” in the selective nature of the HRCM’s investigations.
MDP MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor today alleged that the HRCM’s investigation had now formed the basis of criminal charges filed against Nasheed. The case was today returned to the Prosecutor General’s (PG’s) Office after the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court said it did not presently have jurisdiction to hear such a case.
In March, the Prosecutor General Ahmed Muizz told Minivan News that the completion of the Nasheed cases was being delayed whilst police reviewed certain aspects of the investigation.
Ghafoor claimed that the decision to move ahead with the charges this week raised questions about allegations of political influence on the HRCM and the information it made available to the PG’s Office.
“I believe there is a very strong link between the HRCM holding this media briefing today and Islamist factions linked to [former President] Gayoom,” he added. “This week this faction has been very active in lobbying the HRCM, the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) and even the president himself.”
Just last month, Deputy leader of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Umar Naseer has expressed his confidence that the Prosecutor General’s (PG) investigation into charges against former President Mohamed Nasheed will see his imprisonment before the scheduled elections in July 2013.
“We will make sure that the Maldivian state does this. We will not let him go; the leader who unlawfully ordered the police and military to kidnap a judge and detain him for 22 days will be brought to justice,” local paper Haveeru reported Naseer as having said.
The PPM was formed by former President Gayoom, who also serves as head of the party.
Former President Nasheed became the first Maldivian president to be summoned before the HRCM in March this year in connection to his alleged role in the controversial detention of Judge Abdulla.
Nasheed had been requested to attend a HRCM hearing filed to try and understand who was responsible for taking the decision to arrest the judge. The former president attributed the initial arrest call to his Defence Ministry, on the grounds of “protecting” national security relating to alleged ethical concerns about the judge.
The summons of the former president was the first of three cases filed at the HRCM involving Nasheed. These cases all relate to potential human rights abuses allegedly carried out both by and against Nasheed during the lead up and aftermath of a controversial transfer of power that saw President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan installed as his successor.
Representatives of Nasheed’s legal counsel at the time claimed Nasheed has used his testimony to claim that he had been informed by the Home Ministry that the judge had allegedly posed a “national threat” – prompting his eventual detention.
The MDP MP added that Nasheed then claimed that the Home Ministry had communicated with the Defence Ministry on the situation, which in turn led to the decision to arrest the judge after bodies like the Judicial Service Commission has raised alleged concerns over his ethical conduct.
“I was told Abdulla Mohamed would not comply with the police’s summons to investigate allegations [against him],” Nasheed later stated at a press conference following the meeting with the HRCM.
“The Home Minister wrote to the Defense Minister that Abdulla Mohamed’s presence in the courts was a threat to national security. And to take necessary steps. And that step, the isolation of Abdulla Mohamed, was what the [Defense] Ministry deemed necessary.”
Nasheed claimed additionally that he had sent representatives to Girifushi to check on Judge Abdulla Mohamed’s well-being during his detention, alongside allowing the HRCM to visit the judge.
The MDP has also alleged that the decision to arrest the judge was related to a number of possible misdemeanour’s that had been attributed to him dating back several years.
In November, the national court watchdog, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), was ordered to cease an investigation into Judge Abdulla Mohamed by the Civil Court under an action the judge himself instigated.
MDP spokesperson and MP Imthiyaz Fahmy contended following Nasheed’s first HRCM summons on March 21 that it was ironic that a leader he claimed who had openly discouraged the use of torture and actively campaigned against human rights abuses, had become the country’s first former leader to have been called in front of the HRCM.