The Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) has publicly revealed the names of those it considers responsible for the arbitrary arrest and detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed, despite previously stating that it did not wish to reveal the names for risk of prejudicing any court action.
In the shadow report on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in response to the Maldives initial state report submitted by the commission to UN Human Rights Committee in June, HRCM explicitly blames those responsible for the arbitrary arrest.
Article 71(iv) of the report reads: “It is conclusive to the investigation that the President and the Minister for Defense and National Security have to take the responsibility for arbitrary arrest and detention of the Chief Judge.”
Article 71(v) reads: “It is conclusive that it was the orders of the President to arrest Chief Judge as there was no action taken against the MNDF for disobedience to the orders of the Courts.”
However, in a press conference held on Wednesday, President of HRCM Mariyam Azra declined to give 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 it felt could influence any potential trials after charges were filed against Nasheed and several senior figures in the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) this week.
During the press conference, commission member Dr Ali Shameem spoke of the importance of having at least a “presence” of international human rights organsations at a time where the country was seeing violent political turbulence.
“I think it is very important that international human rights organisations have a presence – at least an office here in the Maldives – which we could easily reach on matters regarding human rights,” he said.
However, commission President Azra spoke against the views of the commission member, stating that she was of the view that it was “a domestic thing which we want to tackle ourselves.”
“I do not think we need an international presence. I believe the matter is a domestic thing and I am of the view that a local can be found,” she said.
During the press conference, members of the HRCM stated that their 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.
Furthermore, the commission used the 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.
Speaking to Minivan News, Azra stated that she did had not declined to reveal the names of those who were found responsible, but said she had declined to suggest against whom the Prosecutor General (PG) should press charges.
“It is not my duty to say against whom the charges should be pressed. It’s the PG who will decide it,” she said.
“We have also sent a copy of the report to President Nasheed, the Defence Minister and all the concerned authorities,” she added.
She also stated that she had been unable to answer calls from Minivan News yesterday at time of press.
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 alleged that the HRCM’s investigation had now formed the basis of criminal charges filed against Nasheed. The case was yesterday 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.