The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) today slammed opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) for allegedly using international organisations to influence the Supreme Court trials against the state’s human rights body.
“The MDP in connection with various international organisations is attempting to influence an ongoing court case initiated by the highest judicial authority Supreme Court against the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM),” the PPM said.
The Supreme Court in September charged the independent commission with undermining the Constitution and sovereignty of the Maldives by spreading lies about the judiciary in its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submission to the UN Human Rights Council.
The trial was initiated under suo moto regulations that allow the Supreme Court to initiate proceedings, prosecute, and pass judgment.
In its statement today, the PPM said it “harshly condemns MDP’s irresponsible attempts to discredit Maldives reputation and impoverish the Maldivian people.”
The MDP and the international community’s work harm Maldivian democracy and negatively impacts on the country’s tourism sector, the ruling party said.
The MDP had on September 23, expressed grave concern over the Supreme Court’s charges and accused the court of the undermining the Constitution.
“We believe that by initiating a suo moto case, the Supreme Court is undermining the responsibilities vested by the Maldivian Constitution and international conventions on the independent commission,” it said.
In the second hearing, the Supreme Court reprimanded the HRCM for basing criticism of the judiciary on a “rejected” 2013 report by the UN Special Rapporteur for Independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul.
The court denounced the HRCM’s statements on the judiciary as “dangerous,” “irresponsible”, and poorly researched.
Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz censured the HRCM for alleged failure to fact check the UPR submission and said the commission had no authority to comment on the judiciary, review court verdicts, or monitor court proceedings.
The HRCM trial is only the second suo moto case in the country’s history. The first – in March this year – saw the Supreme Court sack the Election Commission’s president and vice president for contempt of court.
The United Nations Human Rights Council in 2012 said it was “deeply concerned about the state of the judiciary in the Maldives.”
The Supreme Court in particular needed “radical readjustment,” the committee said. “As 6 of 7 Supreme Court judges are experts in Sharia law and nothing more, this court in particular is in need of radical readjustment. This must be done to guarantee just trials, and fair judgments for the people of Maldives.”
The 2006 Human Right Commission Act lists the promotion and protection of human rights in accordance with international conventions along with the assistance and support of relevant NGOs as basic objectives of the commission.
Additionally, Article 27 of the HRCM Act grant members immunity from prosecution in relation to acts carried out as part of the commission’s duties.
Article 27 (b) meanwhile says that a case can only be filed against the commission regarding published reports following an inquiry which proves components of the report to have been false.
The PPM in its statement today credited 30-year ruler President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom for establishing a modern democracy in the country and gaining the respect and support for Maldivian sovereignty.
President Abdulla Yameen is following in the same footsteps, the statement read.