No Maldivian statute requiring citizens to observe diplomatic law: High Court

The High Court has today (August 21) ruled that the Maldivian citizens are “not required” to act in compliance with Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR), as no national law currently exists in the country that requires enforcement of the convention.

The High Court’s ruling came alongside a decision made regarding an appeal case filed at the court concerning breach of a lease agreement between an individual named Mohamed Shareef and the High Commission of India.

During the hearings of the appeal case, the appellant Shareef’s lawyer claimed that in February 2006 the Indian High Commission, on behalf of the President of India, had entered into the agreement with Shareef concerning the leasing of Dhivehige of Henveiru Ward – the residence of the Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives.

According to the lawyer, the parties had agreed to specific terms that need to be fulfilled before the contract could be set aside, but the High Commission had dishonored those terms when it vacated the premises on September 2009 – claiming to have terminated the contract.

In breach of contractual duty, Shareef sued the High Commission in the Civil Court, claiming damages worth US$196,101 (MVR3,023,877.42). The claims included US$193,666 (MVR 2,986,329.72) as rent owed for the remainder of the contract period, while US$ 2,435 (MVR 37,547.7) was sought for refurbishment of the premises.

In 2010, the Civil Court rejected the case claiming that it did not have jurisdiction to look into the matter as the VCDR – to which the Maldives is a party – included immunity for diplomatic missions and diplomatic agents.

The court argued that these immunities had also been “implicitly incorporated” into the contract between the parties, with the result being that the Civil Court would be in violation of the treaty should it proceed with the case.

During the appeal, the Attorney General’s Office also intervened, admitting in court that national legislation was required to enforce an international treaty as well as requesting that the court make a decision on whether treaties such as the VCDR had been ratified prior to the enactment of the current constitution in 2008.

The Maldives ratified the 1961 VCDR in October 2007 under the leadership of then Foreign Affairs Minister Abdulla Shahid – now Speaker of Parliament. The convention outlays a framework for diplomatic relations between independent countries, and specifies privileges and immunities granted diplomatic premises.

Overruling the Civil Court decision, the High Court in today’s verdict claimed that under Article 93 of the Constitution, Maldivian citizens shall only be required to act in compliance with treaties ratified by the state and provided for in laws enacted by the parliament. The High Court claimed that no such law had been introduced.

Article 93(a) of the constitution states: “Treaties entered into by the Executive in the name of the State with foreign states and international organizations shall be approved by the People’s Majlis, and shall come into force only in accordance with the decision of the People’s Majlis.”

Article 93(b) states: “Despite the provisions of article (a), citizens shall only be required to act in compliance with treaties ratified by the State as provided for in a law enacted by the People’s Majlis”.

Issuing the final verdict, the High Court invalidated the Civil Court’s decision to dismiss the case in favour of Shareef.

However, both the High Court and the Attorney General’s verdict noted that such a case could strain the bilateral relations between India and Maldives. In hope of avoiding this, a period of three months has been given for the parties to come to an out-of-court settlement.

Should the parties not be able to come to an agreement within the given three months, the High Court in its verdict ruled that Civil Court has the jurisdiction to proceed with the case.

Meanwhile an official from the Indian High Commission said that it did not wish to comment on the matter while it remains in the court.


10 thoughts on “No Maldivian statute requiring citizens to observe diplomatic law: High Court”

  1. But Maldivains benefit from the rights and privileges of the Vienna Convention. Right.

    And not just Maldivains. Even some foreigners employed in Maldives Mission as diplomats were included in the privileges such as VAT exemptions and duty free shopping.

    Shows how 'smart' this high court of Maldives is. Only Maldivians and their friends get privileges under VCDR.


  2. You have got to be joking!!! For a country to re-track on agreeing to adhere to the Vienna Convention effectively risks other countries from giving the Maldives the same protection in their mission around the world.

    National laws do not override the bidding agreement of the Vienna Convention, because it is signed at the highest level of government after long debate and study within the inner circle of the nations leadership.

    The Maldives High Court haven't ruled against India, they have effectively told the other 189 signatories that we don't honour our commitments to this international treaty.

    I imagine many of the Maldivian diplomats around the world will now be called into their host countries Foreign offices to explain this breach of the treaty and find themselves on the next plane back home, with their diplomatic status revoked, because it is the host nation that agrees the status not the Maldivian Government.

    Just shows that the legal system in the Maldives don't know s**t about law.

  3. On the positive side, the High Court decision has
    now clarified the Maldives position regarding VCDR since Maldives Government has previously expressly violated the convention by extending the privileges and immunities to non-Maldivians.

    So this new High Court decision gives legitimacy to the previous violation.

    One could say the High Court decision is a forward looking decision that will correct past violations by Maldives Government in a retroactive manner.

    I congratulate the High Court.

  4. Was anything better expected from a "void ab initio' regime, brought into to our nation by the coup leaders ??

  5. Was anything better expected from a “void ab initio’ regime, brought into to our nation by the coup leaders ??

    Lets look at it... one can understand an individual like Shareiff claiming anything under the sun.. the merits of the case may be decided at an appropriate time.

    But its a thorough goof-up that our Foreign Ministry and the "void ab initio" Attorney General have done in the case. The govt shd have implicated themselves in the case and simply stopped this absurdity. Like DMF have said above, if we say that we don't respect international conventions after having signed and ratified it, the other countries might just as well say.. that we dont acknowledge any diplomatic privilege for any Maldivian Mission or diplomats abroad.

    This is just a calculated move by the coup government to increase tensions with India at the behest of proxy forces outside.. right before the elections, peeved by the way it has been isolated by neighbors as well as the entire international community

  6. It was the Maldives Foreign Ministry that violated the conventions first

    Why all the hooopoola when a judge makes a decesion which is entirely in his powers. Whatever his qualificatiins are, this judge seems certainly more enlightened that Dr. Shaheed, the first person who violated immunities and privileges

  7. This is what a State can be when it is run by traitors, helpless, suckers and **ckers!

    The Executive is headed by a traitor.
    The Parliament is headed by a helpless.
    The Supreme Court is headed by a sucker.
    And the worst of all, the Judiciary is headed by a **cker!

    The world community now can see how the Commission of National Inquiry conducted its findings and slapped them with a report that was pickled by unknown ingredients added by an arched but aging "Cleopatra Boy", who still has some trickery (that do not work at all times) up his sleeves for temporary getaways!

    They also can see that they were cleverly hoodwinked by this "Cleopatra Boy" who dictated terms in this country for 30 years and wanted to retake the power he lost to a democrat!


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