Nasheed vows “independent and fair judiciary” before end of first term, in leaked audio

An audio clip of President Mohamed Nasheed vowing to ensure a fair judiciary before the 2013 presidential election has been leaked to local media.

The audio was reportedly one of several recorded during a meeting with the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).

“Freedom of expression and an independent and fair judiciary in this country – I will not go for the election after these five years without doing these two things,” Nasheed is heard to say.

He added that according to Home Minister Hassan Afeef, “the entire criminal justice system of this country is being destroyed because of a single judge.”

Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed, who was detained on January 16 by the MNDF after he sought a High Court injunction to prevent a police summons, “will not retain his place on the bench under this government even if he is released [from Girifushi].”

“I will tell the army very clearly that [Abdulla Mohamed] will not get closer than 100 meters to the courthouse,” Nasheed said.

In another leaked clip, Nasheed argues that judges were not appointed lawfully and their verdicts and judgments were therefore suspect.

Several local media outlets reported Nasheed’s comments as a threat from the President not to hold elections unless the judiciary was reformed.

President Nasheed’s Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair was not responding to calls at time of press.

“The opposition is twisting what the President said,” responded a source in the President’s Office. “He was promising to reform the judiciary before the conclusion of his first term in office – he has no intention of calling off any elections.”

The Maldives is currently in the throes of a judicial crisis, after Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed scuttled an investigation by the judicial watchdog into his alleged misconduct by applying for a Civil Court injunction to halt the process. The Judicial Services Commission (JSC) yesterday argued in parliament that it had no option but to obey the ruling of a body it was tasked with overseeing.

That investigation concerned politically bias comments made on DhiTV, which an unreleased JSC report states violated the judge’s Code of Conduct.

The government has presented a bevy of allegations against the judge, listing 14 cases of obstruction of police duty including withholding warrants for up to four days, ordering police to conduct unlawful investigations and disregarding decisions by higher courts, “deliberately” holding up cases involving opposition figures, barring media from corruption trials, ordering the release of suspects detained for serious crimes “without a single hearing”, and maintaining “suspicious ties” with family members of convicts sentenced for dangerous crimes.

The judge also released a murder suspect “in the name of holding ministers accountable”, who went on to kill another victim.

Earlier allegations, forwarded to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in 2005 by then Attorney General Dr Hassan Saeed, included allegations of misogyny, sexual deviancy, and throwing out an assault case despite the confession of the accused.

In one instance, Dr Saeed told Gayoom, the Chief Judge made two underage victims of sexual assault act out the assault “in the presence of the perpetrator and the rest of the court.”

The judge remains in detention and the government is appealing to the international community for independent and authoritative legal assistance to resolve the impasse and reform the judiciary. Meanwhile, opposition supporters have held two weeks of nightly protests calling for the judge’s release.

No organisation has yet stepped forward, however a UN spokesperson from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights over the weekend encouraged the government to “release the judge from custody or charge him with a crime.”

The matter has also been raised in the UK Parliament’s House of Commons by Conservative Party MP for Salisbury, John Glen.

“Although the judiciary is constitutionally independent, sitting judges are underqualified, often corrupt and hostile to the democratically elected regime,” Glen stated.

Leader of the House of Commons, George Young, responded that Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Alistair Burt, was “in touch with the Maldives President to see whether we can resolve the impasse. The high commission in Colombo is also engaged. We want to help the Maldives to make progress towards democratic reform in the direction that John Glen outlines.”


19 thoughts on “Nasheed vows “independent and fair judiciary” before end of first term, in leaked audio”

  1. Excellent progress. The only people who hate justice are the people breaking the law. The rubbish constitution is a pathetic get out of jail card that will not work this time!!


  3. @marie

    whats wrong with Turkey. If you were given a choice to live in a Muslim country, chances are that you will choose Turkey over Saudia or any other country. Turkey is the most prosperous and industrialized of any Islamic country and the only member of NATO. Turkey is a leader of and one of the most pious Islamic countries today.

    Please check and see if there is a head between your shoulders before making stupid comments in capital letters.

  4. The Maldives is at the historic cross roads where they have to choose between the functioning and impartial judiciary vs one controlled by the vested interests.

    Just as the maldives tourism industry is controlled by few players (MATI), there is an attempt to hijack the judiciary. This MATI model for judiciary should not be allowed to happen.

    MDP is too quiet in this. Come to the streets and make your case to the nation. Sharpen your PR - you have a good case.

  5. marie, give it up. You are showing your ignorance. In Turkey the military has no power now and it is the civilian government who has destroyed the power of the Military and they, the military are in the barracks. Recently they have even charged a former Army Commander of plotting to have a coup and is in jail.

  6. “Although the judiciary is constitutionally independent, sitting judges are underqualified, often corrupt and hostile to the democratically elected regime,” Glen stated.

    Hmm, I can clearly hear the negative connotations in Mr Glen's usage of the term "regime" to refer to the democratically elected government of the Maldives.

    In one sentence, he manages to cast the judiciary as corrupt and underqualified, at the same time underminging the legitimacy of the government calling it a "regime". Where is Mr Naseem and his boys at the Foreign Ministry? Too scared to ask for a clarification from this chap Glen who seems to have found himself on a high horse.

    Note that it wasn't very long ago that the British Parliament itself was involved in financial scandal after scandal regarding cases of fraud involing the money of tax payers.

  7. Nice to see how JJ is twisting this. when MDP was the opposition minivan wrote about fundamental rights and right to protest, now that they are the ruling party minivan is not talking about the right to have a lawyer, the right to protest. how funny dho? JJ has close relationship with presidents office but this should force to write half the truth.

  8. The Maldives is not at any crossroads.

    Institutions such as the judiciary, executive and legislature will need sustained efforts at strengthening if we are to continue with our efforts to establish democracy in our country.

    Such institution-building requires sincere efforts. Here is what the Executive should do without engaging in petty party politics to strengthen the judiciary;

    - Consult with the Judicial Services Commission to downside the judiciary in a cost-effective manner so that human resource requirement meets availability among locals.

    - Strengthen the Faculty of Shariah and Law at the Maldives National University so that local expertise in the legal field can be developed and existing justices on the bench as well as other personnel at the judiciary can receive regular refresher courses.

    - Facilitate dialogue between the Criminal Court, Prosecutor General and Police force in order to strengthen the Criminal Justice System. The government could act as a mediator but without putting forward any party interests.

    - Increase public confidence in the judiciary by stopping the practice of making derogatory statements about individual judges and the judiciary in public. Disputes can be handled behind closed doors and proper dialogue can be a step forward in the right direction. Nothing is ever 100% effective but the tiniest fraction of progress in the right direction should be celebrated.

    - Hold wider discussions with important stakeholders such as the political opposition and the private media to get as many people on board the efforts to build and strengthen the judiciary.

    - Get stakeholders on board a plan to address issues in the composition of the Judicial Services Commission if there are any.

    We all have to acknowledge the fact that the judiciary went through a major change in 2008 following its independence from Executive control. While current cultural attitudes still sway towards the perception that the judiciary should be subservient to the President we need to sustain efforts to change such attitudes. As the interpreter of the Constitution and the institution which ensures the public interest the judiciary needs to be distanced from executive control as much as possible. Judicial review keeps the President and his administration in check. Nasheeds reaction is only natural as he is a young President and new to the concept of democracy and so are we all. That is why foreign expertise might be helpful in shaping our democracy yet such expertise should be welcomed and balanced by consultations with local expertise in order to ensure that any recommendations are properly shaped to the context of our local conditions.

  9. if only one judge is having problems , why tho whole judiciary is under attack ? doesnt make sense,

  10. The System has failed only because of one man and that is the President himself. Global hero becomes a Global Zero.

  11. @ Tsk Tsk.
    No, we are not at a cross road. And there are peace loving and competitive people who can overcome this situation.
    The stakeholders in hand are a bunch of its kind!
    It will take a lot to bell this cat!

  12. I sympathise with certain points of both sides of this argument...

    I agree that the judiciary has to be made independant. The 'spirit' of the constitution can only be protected through means which MAY appear to some to be a violation of the constitution.

    I also think many of Tsk's Tsk's points are valid. What exactly does Pres. Nasheed wish to achieve in the name of 'justice and liberty.' Is he exploiting his people's hunger for justice and liberty to create support for he himself to build up his own power?

    What is freedom? Whose freedom will freedom be?

    Cautiously, I support what Anni is doing, but I would also like Anni to know, that if he exploits our hunger for liberty and justice and uses our support to simply become very powerful and sinful. YET IF our hopes for justice and liberty are not realized as an outcome of all of this, we will feel exploited, used, abused, our deepest ideals and aspirations would feel violated and used...

    Many are sacrificing so much to put their hope in you Anni, please be very careful that you do not break our souls. Remember, psychologists will tell you that shattered hope is a billion times more painful and productive of anger than hope never awakened.

    That anger will be expressed through the ballot box.

    You have awakened our hope, Anni, you have given us the courage to dream that justice for all can be real.

    Please be sure that the new Judge, or Judges, truly serve Justice as altruistically as is humanly possible.

  13. Ben Plewright!!
    Dictators starts its course in these actions lately we have seen from Anni and his cronies! I hope you don't believe in Anni blindly like some PPP members do for Gayoom and they see no harm he did to this country and phyc damage to current president which is the outcome we see now! I also feel bit strange by observing your critical comments for earlier articles BUT you FAIL to see the cronies around him who is distroying the system which was hard earned by ordinary citizens! Goodluck pal!

  14. Lack of adequate rule of law and justice is has been the norm in the Maldives. In everyday life, Maldivains are more familiar with a shaky justice system than a perfect one. It is the established norm.

    Now, what President Nasheed is promising (clean judiciary) is not some thing that Maldivains knows, understands or have ever experienced. To the contrary, our memory cells are saturated with bad experience of lawlessness. Thus average Maldivains would not be able to believe that an impartial judiciary can ever happen, even if she tries to.

    This is an issue of belief. President Nasheed needs to convince the public that an impartial judiciary is doable and not a dream.

    One the public starts believing in a clean judiciary, the tables will turn.

  15. I have to agree with Marie on the the issue of the cronies around him. They are in this only for personal profit. Look at the people he has around him.
    There is a reason why education is necessary. Not every educated person would be competent but in certain circumstances it should be.
    Then Anni has this confrontational attitude. It seems that he never made the change from an activist to a statesman. He polarises people instead of getting them together. there are better ways to get your point of view and getting things done instead of facing it front on especially when you are in politics.
    I do not know what is happening to my country. No choice available right now looks good. I do not want Gayoom or any of his cronies to come back either and I want Anni to sort this mess out now without upsetting the majority of the people and the only way he can do this is to clear out some garbage from the PO's office and some Ministries.

  16. I can not believe the debate here? This judge is pretty indefensible I think we all would agree. Now, Nasheed, who does not believe in revenge but has been the victim of brutal injustice is going to change the rotten system as he said the first day he got into politics.
    It is black and white. Either you embrace the moment and support him or you have blood on your hands and you fight this. There is no grey area here. Annie must bring in international impartial experts temporarily to repair our own mess. No international investor will take us seriously in the future unless we clean up our rotten outdated legal system. EVERYTHING DEPENDS ON THE PRESIDENT SUCCEEDING!

  17. President has lost controll of everything ... Sorry yo have lost this . You have failed big time .. Better concentrate on an exit plan. Bye bye


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