Jumhoree Party (JP) Presidential Candidate Gasim Ibrahim has told reporters he will not step down from his position on the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), stating that he saw no conflict of interest between his bid for power and role on the judicial watchdog.
The JP held a press conference yesterday with its two recently-unveiled coalition partners, the religious conservative Adhaalath Party and the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), following their defection from President Mohamed Waheed’s ‘Forward with the nation’ coalition last week.
According to local news outlet Haveeru, journalists repeatedly asked Gasim how he could possibly remain an impartial member of the JSC while running for president.
In response, Gasim said he saw no conflict of interest, and insisted that he would “not neglect his legal obligations” as a JSC member.
Following the investigation of Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed sex tape scandal by a JSC subcommittee, Gasim voted against suspending the judge, in contradiction of the subcommittee’s recommendation.
Attorney General Aishath Azima Shukoor, President Waheed’s representative Latheefa Gasim, and Chair of the Civil Service Commission, Mohamed Fahmy Hassan, also voted against the judge’s suspension, citing “lack of evidence”.
Gasim meanwhile publicly declared that Hameed’s sex tape was “a fake” orchestrated by “external forces” seeking to take over state assets, introduce other religions to the country, and create infighting in Maldivian society.
His comments were followed this week with the leak of two more sex videos of the judge, including one depicting the judge fraternising with a topless woman with an eastern European accent. At one point, the judge leans right into the camera, and his face is visible.
The public’s representative on the JSC, Sheikh Shuaib Abdul Rahman, has been sharply critical of the commission’s conduct and motivations, particularly its “open discussion” of its intent to eliminate Gasim’s rival presidential candidate, former President Mohamed Nasheed, from contesting the upcoming elections.
“It is common now to hear a lot of MDP and Nasheed bashing in commission meetings. This was not how things usually were before. I believe politically biased comments like this have increased since Gasim joined the JSC as a representative of the parliament,” Sheikh Rahman stated in March.
“Gasim even went to the point of asking the UN Special Rapporteur Gabriela Knaul when she held a meeting with us to state in her report that it was Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) who torched the courts. I heard him say exactly that,” Sheikh Rahman said.
Knaul’s final report to the UN Human Rights Council following her mission to the Maldives in February, was a damning indictment of the country’s judicial crisis.
The special rapporteur stated that there was near unanimous consensus during her visit that the composition of the JSC was “inadequate and politicised”. This complaint echoed that of the International Committee of Jurists (ICJ) in 2010.
“Because of this politicisation, the commission has allegedly been subjected to all sorts of external influence and has consequently been unable to function properly,” said Knaul.
The JSC was responsible for both creating the court in which Nasheed was to be tried for his detention of Chief Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed in early 2011, and appointing the panel of judges overhearing the trial.