The Judicial Services Commission (JSC) has abolished its Complaints Committee citing “efficiency”, with complaints against judges now being forwarded for review by the legal section and Commission head Adam Mohamed.
Last year the JSC received 143 complaints concerning the conduct of judges. By its own statistics none were tabled in the commission, and only five were ever replied to.
Chair of the former complaints commission, the President’s Member of the JSC Aishath Velezinee who was stabbed in the street in January this year, said the complaints committee had been unable to operate as the chair had persistently scheduled meetings “during the same days and hours as the committee meetings, and it came to the point where it was impossible for the committee to meet and work.”
“Several members including Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Afrashim Ali also boycotted the meetings making it difficult for the committee to function,” Velezinee said, claiming that no procedure had been followed in abolishing the committee, and intention was to stop complaints against judges from being investigated.
“The JSC recently adopted house rules, which gives extraordinary powers to the chair. The chair decides whether to table complaints, routinely withholds information from the Commission and responds [to complaints] himself,” she said.
The JSC has failed to table or even acknowledge receipt of a report on the judiciary produced by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), which questioned whether the JSC’s possessed the technical ability and knowledge to investigate complaints and hold the judiciary accountable, as well as its independence.
The opposition-majority parliament has meanwhile yet to back the government’s request that the Maldives join the International Criminal Court (ICC), of which half the world’s nations are members. Velezinee has previously accused certain opposition MPs of manipulating the judiciary through JSC in an attempt to retain control of the legal impunity provided them under the previous government’s Ministry of Justice.
Central to the International Criminal Court’s mandate “is the principle of complementarity, which holds that the Court will only intervene if national legal systems are unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes,” the ICC’s international NGO coalition said in a statement.
“Perpetrators of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity must be held accountable. Greater support for the ICC in Asia is needed in order to increase the region’s commitment to the fight against impunity. The Coalition therefore encourages Maldives to assert its commitment to ending the culture of impunity by acceding to the Rome Statute of the ICC.”
Parliament has meanwhile been deliberating on an amendment to the Clemency Act whereby death sentences issued by judges would be acted upon when all appeals failed. The last person be judicially executed in the Maldives was Hakim Didi in 1953, who was executed by firing squad after being found guilty of conspiracy to murder using black magic.