Ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nihan has suggested the United States should look closer to home before passing comment on the Maldives’ judiciary.
While speaking at a ceremony in Gaaf Dhaalu Thinadhoo yesterday, Nihan said the majority of the countries issuing statements on the Maldivian judiciary do so without considering their domestic circumstances.
“They are afraid to talk about their own courthouses and the rights of their citizens. For example America, one of the biggest critics, is at the verge of killing black people on sight,” Haveeru has reported Nihan as saying.
“The countries which remain quiet, even as Israel continues to kill off people in the Middle East, Al-Quddus area – they are pointing their fingers at others,” he continued.
Speaking with Minivan News today, the Villimalé MP has suggested his words had been taken out of context by local media, though he defended them as being based upon facts, defending his right to freedom of expression.
Nihan’s comments appeared to refer to two recent incidents in the US in which individuals died at the hands of police officers, prompting nationwide civil rights protests.
During a visit to the Maldives this week US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal said that judicial independence is still an issue in the Maldives, despite the young democracy’s accomplishments.
The comments came just days after the removal of two Supreme Court judges by the People’s Majlis, in a move condemned as unconstitutional by both local and international civil society groups, as well as the Maldives’ Civil Court.
Numerous Commonwealth organisations said the move had “severely jeopardised” the independence of the judiciary, while the International Commission of Jurists said the “astonishingly arbitrary” decision had “effectively decapitated the country’s judiciary”.
Nihan told Minivan News today that there was no reason why the Maldives should act upon “planned and political” statements from European countries either.
The government, and President Yameen in particular, has heavily criticised the EU for what it regards as interference in the internal affairs of the country, suggesting it had prompted the Maldives to look increasingly to China as a development partner.
When asked about the impact of his comments on diplomatic relations, Nihan said that he believed that there should be no impact as Maldives has the right to defend itself from its critics in the international arena.
Meanwhile, a PPM press release on Thursday (December 18) had slammed what it termed attempts to bring the Maldives into disrepute by Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Ibrahim Gasim, who suggested that Maldives was facing international censure over the removal of Supreme Court judges.
“We’re giving a bad signal. [We are] talking about comments made about the Maldives looking at statements from America and the commonwealth,” the business tycoon was quoted as saying in local media.
Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and Justice Muthasim Adnan were removed following the passage of government-sponsored amendments to the Judicature Act, which proposed reducing the number of judges on the apex court from seven to five.
Following ratification of the amendments by President Abdulla Yameen, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) promptly recommended the dismissal of Faiz and Adnan, which was approved by parliament on December 14 with 53 votes in favour and 21 against.
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