Maldives judiciary hammered in UN human rights review

Countries across the world have blasted the Maldives for it’s politicized judiciary and expressed alarm over threats to journalists and human rights defenders at a UN periodic review of human rights in Geneva today.

The imprisonment of former president Mohamed Nasheed on terrorism charges was also noted with concern by Norway, Germany, the United Kingdom, Denmark, the United States, Canada and Australia.

But many countries welcomed new anti-torture laws and laws protecting migrant worker and women’s rights in the Maldives, and applauded progress in healthcare and education.

The UN’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) comes amidst heightened international scrutiny of the Maldives over political turbulence triggered by Nasheed’s arrest in February. Hundreds were arrested this weekend in a 20,000 strong anti-government protest.

Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon said the Maldives is training and building capacity of judges, and said criticism of Nasheed’s trial had “mainly focused on the process and not the merits.”

Many countries also slammed the Maldives for the Supreme Court’s decision to try members of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) for treason over a submission to the UPR.

Despite the strong criticism, the foreign ministry in a statement tonight said the human rights council had “praised Maldives for the tremendous progress it has achieved in the promotion and protection of human rights.”

Judicial reform

Expressing concern over a “lack of respect for the most basic principals of fair trial and due process” during Nasheed’s trial, Norway called on the Maldives to release the opposition leader immediately.

Germany noted a climate of growing fear in the Maldives due to increasing gang related violence, religious intolerance, and attacks and death threats faced by journalists, politicians and civil society groups.

The UK meanwhile called on the Maldives to ensure administration of justice is “fully consistent with international human rights standards” and take urgent action to protect journalists, NGOs and to investigate and prosecute individuals behind the threats.

The UK also expressed concern over arrests of opposition leaders during the mass antigovernment protest on May 1, and called for dialogue between the government and opposition parties.

Denmark noted irregularities and rushed processes in Nasheed’s trial, and recommended the “Maldives restore confidence in its legal system by ensuring the clear and unambiguous division of powers, including the indisputable independence of its judicial processes and judges.”

The United States urged the Maldives to end politically motivated prosecutions, including the Supreme Court’s prosecution of members of the human rights watchdog.

The US said it was concerned about fair trial guarantees and said Maldives must strengthen the independence of the judiciary by reforming the process by which the judicial watchdog – the Judicial Services Commission – selects and appoints judges.

Adding its voice to calls for Nasheed’s release, Canada said Maldives must reaffirm its commitment to democracy and rule of law, and institute an independent bar association.

Meanwhile, India said the judiciary must adhere to due process to maintain public trust and said the space for legitimate political dissent must be safeguarded.

Botswana, Brazil, Argentina, Slovenia, New Zealand, Ghana, Switzerland, Italy, Ireland, South Korea, Bangladesh, Liechtenstein, Netherlands, Trinidad and Tobago, Kenya and France also spoke on the need for judicial reform.

International spotlight

Responding to criticism of Nasheed’s trial, foreign minister Dunya said the case “has highlighted the profound need to work together and strengthen oversight institutions, including the judiciary and the need to bring urgent reforms to the judiciary.”

She censured Nasheed for his decision not to seek an appeal, stating appellate courts were set in place to address shortcomings by the lower courts.

Nasheed’s lawyers had decided not to appeal after the criminal court failed to provide the necessary documentation within a shortened ten-day appeal period. The opposition leader has instead appealed to president Abdulla Yameen to reduce his sentence and release him through special procedures in the Clemency Act.

On the Supreme Court’s prosecution of the human rights commission, the Maldives representative in Geneva, Geela Ali, declined to comment, stating: “as the matter is yet to be decided, we deem it inappropriate to comment on the matter just yet.”

The charges were brought in September last year under new suo moto regulations that allow the Supreme Court to prosecute and pass judgment. The case is still pending.

Dunya said the Maldives had formulated a judicial sector strategic action plan with new benchmarks for increasing efficiency, effectiveness and public confidence in the judiciary.

“Almost everyone seems to have something to say, about what they think is good for the Maldives. As a result, every baby step that the Maldives takes is fiercely debated all over the world, including in the corridors of power in key capitals,” she said.

“It is easy to criticize, but we urge you to not only do that: invest in us, bring about meaningful change.”

She insisted Maldives’ institutions must have the space to grow organically, and said meaningful democratic change cannot be imposed. Change “can only be sustained if the change is locally owned, locally driven and locally shaped,” she said.


8 thoughts on “Maldives judiciary hammered in UN human rights review”

  1. Cant help but laughing...

    “It is easy to criticize, but we urge you to not only do that: invest in us, bring about meaningful change.”
    = please send us more money into our politicians pockets - we want more.

  2. Maldives deployed its secret weapons at the UPR - Maldives women in national dress. Its know for shock value at critical times. In the twitter feed of LGBT campaigner Shaheed, there was little update except his taste for travel to Canada.. among other tastes!!

  3. The criticism of the Western world makes Yameen feel... morally empowered. It has the opposite of the intended effect and makes him more inclined towards brutality and repression. It makes him feel that he is the special one, chosen to stand up to the evil of the West, and his narcissistic sense of being the persecuted one is interpreted in his sick mind as "proof" that he is on the Righteous path, on the "frontline of the struggle against evil..." You can't reason with such a power sick mentality, all these words will only make it worse, you have to force Yameen out of power, you can't "morally condemn" him out of power - it has the opposite effect. The tyranny perpetrated by the megalomaniac is the fruit of a victim mentality, in his mind - those he is oppressing are all tyrants he is fighting.

    Yameen you child, GROW UP! We have all been victims at some stage, but we can choose what we do with our pain. We use your pain to cultivate the hatred generated by a mentality of "victim hood" like a spoilt child, or we can be bigger than that and allow our pain to produce understanding and compassion.

  4. Dhunya is right on one count - they are improving the judges... by teaching them to use cash instead of credit cards when soliciting for the pleasures of the flesh. While this provides a good amount of cover against regular investigations, the best way to counter that is to offer the prostitute in question the chance to build a new life in the free world to gain his or her cooperation. Video evidence, while not accepted against judiciary members in service of the state, will prove a powerful incentive for judges to resign.

  5. “It is easy to criticize, but we urge you to not only do that: invest in us, bring about meaningful change.” - translation: give us money and then we can negotiate. This is gangster level thuggery!

  6. Don't inflate your ego's up thinking major powers capitals discuss the in's and out of backward banana republic, that ego is in your inbred minds, lol.

    Inflate it down, usually the underlings seeking some exposure does the work, prob no one significant in the pol areana even knows about it.

  7. Thanks dear Foreign Minister, when we think you can't sink lower, you prove us wrong. What a study in self-delusion! Embarassingly deluded, as always. No credibility whatsoever. Sorry, don't buy it.

  8. Its shameful for educated and smart individuals like Midhfa to be part of this sham!


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