The government has said it will “not interfere” with the Maldives’ judiciary amidst calls from the US and UK to drop charges against former President Mohamed Nasheed, alleging that requests may have been made by diplomats with “sympathies” for the one-time head of state.
President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad told Minivan News that requests had been made by UK and US officials to drop charges against Mohamed Nasheed over his potential role in the controversial detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed earlier this year.
However, Masood added that any such requests needed to be addressed to the country’s judiciary, reiterating a previous pledge by President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan that his administration would not interfere with judicial process.
“We promised, as you may remember, that we will not interfere in the running of the country’s judiciary,” he said.
Masood also raised doubts whether calls to drop the charges were an official request of the UK or US governments, rather than the views of individual elements in either nations’ respective embassies based in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
“I do not believe that it is the UK and US governments that have made this request, I think it is the embassies themselves,” he alleged. “Maybe they have sympathies for Nasheed.”
The comments were made after China’s Xinhua news agency reported yesterday that the US Embassy of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, as well as its UK counterpart based in the country, asked that the former president not face charges that could potentially exclude him from standing in the next general election presently scheduled for next year.
The UK High Commission was not responding at time of press, while a US Embassy spokesperson said the embassy had no comment on the matter.
Nasheed, along with former Defense Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu both face charges for their alleged roles in the detention of Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed. The charges were filed this week by Prosecutor General Ahmed Muizz.
The detention, which the former government claimed had been made over concerns about “national security” owing to allegations that Judge Abdulla was involved in perjury and “blatant collusion” with the previous administration, was widely criticised by international bodies at the time.
On Sunday, (July 15), Nasheed himself claimed to Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters that he did not wish to see the charges presented against him withdrawn for any reason.
“I, as the president of this country and as the presidential nominee of the MDP, worked for the benefit of the Maldivian people, for their well-being and to fulfil the needs of the people of the Maldives. I have not done anything to further my own interests during my tenure as president,” Nasheed said.
He also called on the public to be present at his trial and witness what happened in the court, alleging that the whole case was politically motivated and that his opponents were seeking to gain an unfair upper hand from the “political scandal”.
“This case is a case that I wanted to see coming. This is a case that I want to face myself. I will not back down from this case,” he said.
Nasheed has joined MDP supporters on numerous occasions during more than a weeks worth of consecutive daily protests in Male’ calling for the present government to step down and hold early elections on the back of the controversial transfer of power in February.
The MDP continues to allege that it was removed from office in a “coup d’etat” sponsored by mutinous elements of the police and military, as well as former opposition politicians.
While the Waheed administration has publicly stressed that it would not seek to tamper with the running of the nation’s judiciary, the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) has identified the courts among a number of areas that need to be overhauled of part of “radical changes” to ensure compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The committee is “deeply concerned about the state of the judiciary in the Maldives,” a statement released by the UNHRC this week noted.
“The state has admitted that this body’s independence is seriously compromised. The Committee has said the judiciary is desperately in need of more serious training, and higher standards of qualification,” the statement read.
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 judgements for the people of Maldives.”
A panel member during the UNHRC session also noted the “troubling role of the judiciary at the centre” of the controversial transfer of power on February 7.
“The judiciary – which is admittedly in serious need of training and qualifications – is yet seemingly playing a role leading to the falling of governments,” he observed.