President Abdulla Yameen has called on all parties to respect the Criminal Court’s verdict against former President Mohamed Nasheed.
In a statement released by the President’s Office last night, President Yameen noted that the opposition leader has “a constitutionally guaranteed right of appeal” to challenge his conviction on terrorism charges at the High Court.
“The government calls on its international partners to engage constructively, based on mutual respect and dialogue in consolidating and strengthening democratic values and institutions in the country,” reads the brief statement.
“The government remains steadfast in ensuring the separation of powers as stipulated under the Maldivian constitution and upholding the rule of law in the country.”
In the wake of the Criminal Court sentencing the opposition leader to 13 years in jail on Friday night (March 13), the United States, United Kingdom and the European Union expressed concern with the lack of due process, while Amnesty International said Nasheed’s conviction “after a deeply flawed and politically motivated trial is a travesty of justice.”
Domestically, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives said the former president was denied fundamental rights that guarantee a fair trial in line with the Maldives’ obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Moreover, human rights NGO Maldivian Democracy Network urged the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges to intervene in order to prevent a “slide back to autocracy,” whilst Transparency Maldives expressed “grave concern” and stressed that Nasheed was denied legal representation, the right to appeal, and sufficient time to mount a defence.
However, President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali told Minivan News yesterday that he believed the Criminal Court “would have afforded due process in the conduct of Nasheed’s trial.”
“If you study this case, from the beginning to the end, it is clear the charges are not politically motivated,” Muaz insisted.
President Yameen as head of state could not “interfere in judicial proceedings and is not to blame for court proceedings,” he said.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma released a statement yesterday noting that the intergovernmental organisation would continue to closely follow the judicial process after the verdict.
The Commonwealth urged restraint and advised peaceful resolution of “differences of view” through dialogue.
“The Foreign Minister of Maldives, Hon Dunya Maumoon, has made recent public comments welcoming constructive and close dialogue with international organisations,” the statement read.
The Commonwealth assured its commitment to working with the Maldives to address issues of concern.
“All societies should have the space and opportunity for dialogue in order to ensure that universally shared values are advanced, and to create a stable and harmonious future,” the statement continued.
“All societies should also have national institutions that enjoy the confidence, trust and respect of the people they serve. The Commonwealth is committed to offering practical support in a collaborative partnership to achieve these goals in an enduring way.”
The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) has meanwhile called on the UN to hold an emergency session on the situation in the Maldives.
The ACHR “urged the members of the UN Security Council to take necessary measures to seize assets and freeze accounts of President of Maldives Mr Abdulla Yameen, Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon, Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin and the three judges overseeing Nasheed’s trial i.e. Abdulla Didi, Abdul Bari Yoousuf and Sujau Usman and other key officials of the regime, impose travel restrictions and trade embargo, and withhold financial assistance and technical cooperation to the Maldives until the release of Nasheed.”
“The trial is a travesty of justice – Judge [Abdulla Mohamed] who claims himself to have been illegally detained for which former President Nasheed was charged under terrorism charges still heads the Criminal Court trying Nasheed and effectively allowed his deputy, Judge Abdulla Didi, to convict Nasheed in a kangaroo trial. If the United Nations and international community fail to intervene now, democracy may never return to the Maldives,” said ACHR Director Suhas Chakma.
The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia) also condemned the verdict and noted that Nasheed was “never investigated for the fresh charges of terrorism before trial.”
“The trial of Nasheed was riddled with numerous violations of basic human rights and fair trial standards, and his conviction must be condemned. This is a clear case of political persecution and therefore the verdict is not surprising, considering the manner in which the court has conducted the trial,” said Forum-Asia Executive Director Evelyn Balais-Serrano.
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