Comment: What do you call a lawless State?

On Tuesday the Maldives appointed a Supreme Court bench in one of the few displays of cross-party cooperation seen in parliament since the ratification of the 2008 Constitution.

But Raadhafathi, a Maldivian national currently working on a project to strengthen the justice sector of the Maldives, and with experience training judges and inspecting courts all over the country, claims the road to an experienced, impartial and capable judiciary will be long and arduous.

The Maldives is in a state of transition. A new Constitution, a new Supreme Court, a new President, multi-party systems and many other factors creating a crucial period for the judiciary as well as for the country as a whole.

I am writing this to highlight the justice sector of Maldives.

Since independence the Maldives has acceded or ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Convention Against Torture (CAT), Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The Maldives was officially awarded a seat in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in May 2010.

The Constitution adopted in 2008 provides for independence of the judiciary, creates new individual liberties, establishes judicial review and gives certain responsibilities relating to the judiciary to the Judicial Services Commission (JSC). These developments present challenges as well as opportunities for the judiciary.

The dynamic reforms of the past two years require that the judiciary transforms itself to ensure that it has the capacity to address the issues brought before it in the coming years. The Maldives is geographically unique in that it is comprised of 20 Atolls containing nearly 1200 islands, out of which 200 are inhabited. This presents numerous governmental challenges which judiciaries in other countries do not face.

During the past five months I have:

  • Been involved in the training of 18 Judges from the Malé courts and 23 Magistrates from the Island Courts on Human Rights and the Constitution;
  • Interviewed NGO’s, Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, Migrant Workers, Bangladesh Embassy, Indian High Commission, Department of Immigration and private lawyers.
  • Visited all the police stations, prisons and detention facilities in the Malé surrounds;
  • Interviewed prisoners and prison staff
  • Visited and interviewed drug rehabilitation facilities
  • Visited all the courts in Malé and interviewed judges and court staff including the [interim] Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
  • Visited Southern and Northern Atolls Courts and interviewed Magistrates, Atoll police commanders, Investigation officers, court staff, prosecutors and court users in the community.

It is evident there is an urgent need to increase the capacity of judges and the court staff to handle the number and complexity of the cases brought to the judiciary, in particular protecting rights enshrined in the Constitution. In addition, Human Rights is a new concept in Maldives and very few people poses the necessary skills and knowledge.

Major features and problems of the legal and judicial system operating in the Maldives

There are total of 208 judges/magistrates in Maldives. Although rights are defined and independent institutions exist to ensure rights are protected, the weakness of the current legal framework lies with the lack of trained professionals in the justice sector, in particular judges, magistrates, prosecutors and police.

98 percent of the legal profession in Maldives (including prosecutors, lawyers, judges, magistrates) are less than qualified to be in the legal profession. Most judges and magistrates have only completed secondary education, and they are not required to be lawyers.

Very few have completed undergraduate or post graduate degree from a western country. Most degrees are from Egypt or Saudi Arabia, and they are usually from unrelated fields. Some have received a Diploma in Sha’riah Law from Institutions established in Malé.

There is no common denominator in judicial training and experience. Some have learned in Arabic, some in Dhivehi, a few in English (the majority of the Judges I have met do not speak English to a serious degree).

The average age of judges at present is 28-32 years.

This situation gives rise to many problems such as reconciling Shari’ah law and the codified common law, as well as the attitudes of judges trained in the Shari’ah law and lawyers trained in common law traditions of the Commonwealth. In addition, the lack of laws governing legal procedure exacerbates the situation further, ensuring there is no consistency in their judgments or conduct of cases.

The judicial system is in considerable chaos. There are no Rules of Court, instead certain rules and regulations are found in more informal publications called ‘Court Circulars’.

In criminal cases, there is no formal onus of proof, and Judges can and do conduct cases any way they want. Every Judge does his or her cases differently and unpredictably.

State attorneys can appear in private legal cases and can be and are members of the Majlis. These arrangements are a direct breach of the separation of powers doctrine. This again demonstrates a failure to appreciate how a democracy and the separation of powers are intended to operate.

The right to a fair trial is a cornerstone of democratic societies. How a person is treated when accused of a crime provides a concrete demonstration of how far a state respects human rights. Unfortunately in the Maldives:

  • Courts assume guilt based on the prosecution case before the ‘trial’
  • A Russian national who only speaks Russian is provided an English Interpreter
  • Prosecution did not provide the documents filed to the accused. Prosecution stated “providing a copy to the accused is not included in the budget.”
  • If a woman submits an application for a divorce, the courts treat the woman with disrespect and 99 percent of the time, they are not granted a divorce regardless of evidence produced – even in domestic violence cases.
  • Prosecution takes too long to file a case, particularly in the islands.
  • Legal profession lacks basic advocacy skills
  • Majority of the legal profession are not competent. They are independent by law but not in practice. As for impartiality – the island courts in particular – this is not exercised due to the small community they live in. Island prosecutors often discuss matters with the magistrates. The prosecution is also allowed to go and spend time with the court staff, while the accused is waits outside in the waiting room.
  • Most judges do not know that public can attend hearings. Hence often those who attend are sent away. The other issue is lack of space in the tiny court rooms.
  • Accused not given an opportunity to cross-examine

Despite all this, the JSC, the independent body responsible for the judiciary, approved all judges to be appointed without term (tenure to retire at 70). If the JSC were to continue the way they have been conducting themselves, there is no hope to strengthen the judiciary of Maldives nor to protect rights enshrined in the Constitution.

The transitional period (Chapter 14 of the Constitution) ended on 7 August 2010.  While the Supreme Court has been appointed, unfortunately the judiciary remains in a state of disarray.

No one (including the executive, parliament and judiciary) knows the meaning of the term ‘separation of powers’, ‘what the law is’ nor even what ‘Human Rights’ means.

No one obeys or respects the legal system, and the Maldives legal system is oppressive and unjust. The entire situation contravenes basic tenets of the rule of law and requires urgent change. The concepts of enforceable natural justice, procedural regularity and due process are not known in Maldivian courts.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


30 thoughts on “Comment: What do you call a lawless State?”

  1. How do Maldivians tolerate when news sites by foreigners call their country a lawless state..? I guess you are are a pride-less state too..
    Look at us Indians - we would not tolerate such things..

  2. No one (including the executive, parliament and judiciary) knows the meaning of the term ‘separation of powers’, ‘what the law is’ nor even what ‘Human Rights’ means.

    What my friend "Raadhafathi" suffers from is something that is very common in the Maldives, its a syndrome where the individual believes that, he or she "knows better than everyone else" or "am the greatest attitude"

    It is this very mindset, that is cause for the chaos this country every so now and then falls into.

    1. Since independence the Maldives has acceded or ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Convention Against Torture (CAT), Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The Maldives was officially awarded a seat in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in May 2010.

    = Article 93 of the Constitution requires that domestic laws be passed before people have to comply with conventions, of all the conventions that the Maldives has acceded they have not passed any legislation empowering the rights enshrined in the conventions.

    2. The Maldives is not a bilingual country, and Article 11 of the constitution states that the national language of the Maldives is "Dhivehi", the trials conducted in the Maldives are in Dhivehi and law requires that the trials be conducted and the documents that are to be submitted should be in dhivehi.

    a. 99% of the judges in Germany do not speak english, infact they are trained in german.
    b. all trials and documents submitted in the courts in Thailand (a tourism hub) is in Thai and not in english.
    c. 100% of the judges in the United States, UK and Europe do not understand "dhivehi"

    should one foreign language be allowed in the Maldivian judicial system and who is to decide that it should be english? why not spanish? there are more chinese speakers in the world, why not chinese and the regional power is India, so why not hindi?

    The truth of the matter is that different countries have different languages, different people speak different languages and different countries have different judicial systems.

    But we have a phobia where, when one gets an education from a particular country we try to enforce that into our system.

    If we were to adopt a different language in our judicial system, the one that should be adopted by all means is "Arabic", Article 142 of the constitution requires judges to follow "islamic shariah" when the law is silent.

    3. Henry Julian Abraham, Justices, Presidents, and Senators: A History of the U.S. Supreme Court Appointments from Washington to Bush II (2007), p. 49.

    In total, of the 111 Justices appointed to the United States Supreme Court, 46 have had law degrees, an additional 18 attended some law school but did not receive a degree, and 47 received their legal education without any law school attendance

    = of the 111 Justices appointed to the United States Supreme Court only a minority had a law degree (46).

    The biggest worry that Maldives has to face today is this madness where one sole person, believes that only that person can interpret or decide what is right, whether it is moral, whether it is education or whether it is the application of law.

    rule of law is a concept that has been debated and disagreed over and over again by different people, with different ideas. laws have been challenged, repealed and introduced over again as times change, as ideologies differs, to say that one thought is right and the other is wrong is what stems dictatorship and censorship.

    If there is to be an education requirement introduced into Maldivian judiciary it is Islamic Shariah

    Our laws (Constitution, Acts, Regulations) are in dhivehi and should be interpreted as it is in dhivehi, while the only concept that the Maldivian Judiciary has to skim through is Islamic Shariah,

    Hence the Judicial Service Commission should introduce courses where every judicial officer is trained to speak and understand Arabic (to look through islamic shariah developments) and has good working knowledge of shariah and shariah concepts.

  3. Brilliant piece... I couldn't agree more...

    ...leaving us with uncertainty... or maybe a straight walk to far worse...

  4. Sad to say this but this article portrays the judiciary system of our country to the dot! An excellent analysis, Raadhafathi... I hope you will aid in un-entangling the mess which Maldives is in today. We have to move forward!

  5. JSC is responsible for the theft of the century or shall we say last 1000 years and another thousand years to come by appointing crooks and stupid idiots with minimum literacy for life. JSC should be sued for robbing the entire nation of a clean judiciary.

  6. Simple , good contribution and critical thoughts about the article. It is a major problem with that we try to implement other systems and concepts. Sad but true is that, thought most us get education from abroad they rarely experience practical reality yet everyone advocate for such systems. As per to the judiciary, capacity and expertise is a major problem we face. We don't have good quality Sharia law or general law education or institutions to produce capable judges. But trying to deploy a system that has been developed and evolved over 100s of years with educated system to facilitate such change. As for us we have just adopted a judicial system without capacity for such reality and experience one such example is tenure of judges and qualification of judges in the developed or modern system and in Maldives. There is a big gap between reality, practice with concepts and theories.

  7. What do you call a lawless State?

    " I'd call it a fish without a bicycle out of water" 🙂

    To put a little humor on this.... 😉

    Seriously, This is the transitional phase...& all the facts are correct and it will take time to get it going on a smooth sail... I believe that is more realistic way to think about this situation.

    After all "Rome was not built in a day" 😉

    May GOD bless us all

  8. btw Dear "Raadhafathi", You did an excellent job. We need to print this and keep it and remind us as a checklist for "better justice" for the people and the nation. Perhaps as a road map checklist to achieve the desired results.

    Thank you,
    May Allah bless you and all of us and unite us in Truth.

  9. we need a benevolent dictator, look at the Chinese and the Singaporeans, we don't need so much of parties here in Maldives to confuse the general public, where half of the population is acting like some bunch of hooligans.. systems are there for those people who understand how to work in a democratic system.. yes the Indian are great democracy, where the congress party lead by an italian and the prime minister is Punjabi and the ex President was a Muslim

  10. @Simple. Chinese is not a language for your info, most Chinese people speak in Mandarin. And I do not know much about Sharia law, and i do not wish to interpret. But i must say i was appalled to hear an answer from one of the sheikh in a QnA saying that there is no "right to be silent" in Islamic justice system. And everyone must utter the truth at the spot, even if the captors are the culprits of the crime,

    This article is very academic and truthful and to the point.

  11. While Raadhafathi’s analysis does raise some important points and clearly shows that a lot of improvement is needed to uplift the Maldivian justice sector, I concur with Simple’s comment. There are a couple of fallacies in the analysis. It is utterly surprising that the writer viewed the level of English a judge could speak as one yardstick to determine if they are qualified. And why in the world should a degree obtained from a Western country be deemed ‘more degree’ than that obtained from Egypt or even India and Sri Lanka? The estimate that 99% of legal practitioners in the Maldives are not qualified enough to be in the industry is a bit overboard, in my view. 99%!

    For language, Maldivians should be proud of their language. Period. If the law says Dhivehi is the official language, then it should be. Why would a judge in Meedhoo, for example, need to use English when handling a case involving a Maldivian and another Maldivian? Granted, there will be instances where English would be required – especially where an accused or defendant is a foreigner who speaks English. But in such cases, if the judge doesn’t speak English then they can get a translator. For some other languages, surely one wouldn’t expect to have translators as full-time employees. If a Russian were to be brought before a Maldivian court, then a Russian speaker (Maldivian who can speak Russian or a Russian in the Maldives who can speak Dhivehi) could be sought, likewise for an Italian like myself the courts could get an Italian speaker (Maldivian who can speak Italian or an Italian in the Maldives who can speak Dhivehi), and so forth. The most recent case that comes to mind is that of Somalis who were discovered somewhere in Baa Atoll. Does the writer imply that there should have been a Somali translator already in place before the Somalis were rescued?

    On education, I think there is a misconception that degrees from Western countries are ‘the degrees’. That is far from truth. As it is now, some Western universities have become so commercialized and are churning degrees like production plants. It is no wonder that most ‘degree mills’ are in the West. There are tens, if not hundreds, of Middle Eastern, Asian and African universities that provide quality education. Academic papers aside, there is what is called life-learning, and there is on-the-job learning. The value of these cannot be ignored. In fact long-serving judges have institutional memory and precedence in that they can deliver their verdicts based on previous good practices – and avoid verdicts which proved not right. This applies in cases where the judges’ discretion is needed, where some matters are beyond the remits of the law.

    The only thing that has surprised me is the average age of judges. If indeed it is true that on average age of Maldivian judges is 28-32, then it will take years before quality takes root. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against having youngsters as judges, but if that’s the average that means there are too many such – and my guess is because they are the ones with degrees. Experience – and I mean the one gained over time – matters when it comes to judiciary.

  12. Hi "hope on"

    Just trying to point my finger at you when I know the rest is at see...dont give india as an example.

    Your are same as the christians who killed christ and then worship him. India gave birth to a father of the world. Mr Gandhi. and what did your country do to him?? and killing your own brother over a border is not a part of "non voilence and non cooperation" he followed..or is it?

    Sadly, Maldives has not seen that leader hold you wits. Hes out there somewhere.

  13. After having ratified several covenats and conventions the new Constitution that came into effect on August 8, 2008 states that such covenants and conventions will be effective after laws are made in accordance with them. This is a convenient way not to comply with any. Anyway, if you look at the citizenship clauses and the clauses that give the qualification to be the president or even a minister you can see that the Constitution does not comply with the Covenant on Civil and Political rights.

    So why don't we just accept the fact that in Maldives there will never be democracy or human rights. Democracy means rule of the people. The people appoint people to rule and to make the rules of governance. In different countries the format may differ like contitutional monarchy, presidential form, or parliamentary form. Where there is divine law the clergy or mulllas will have power and they will interprete law and 'human rights' will be the crumbs they offer.

  14. @ahmed

    (n) Chinese (any of the Sino-Tibetan languages spoken in China; regarded as dialects of a single language

    "How hard is it to learn Chinese?"
    University of Oxford
    Centre for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language

    Chinese is used much like Dhivehi is used, the dhivehi spoken in the central atolls for example Male' is different from the dhivehi spoken in some of the southern atolls for example Huvadhu Atoll and when we dissect the language and look through, we can see the different dialects, which we call different "bas" even though "bas" is literally translated as "language" and not as dialect.

    likewise chinese is any of the Sino-Tibetan languages spoken in China; regarded as dialects of a single language.

    And I have linked you with the Oxford University's center for learning "Chinese" as a foreign language and University of Princeton definition of Chinese language, if you disagree with the way chinese is used rather than use Mandarin or Cantonese then I hope you work your ass off to get these esteemed Universities change the way they have used the word, because "you know best"

  15. The urge to create a separation of powers in a constitution was to end tyranny. The tyranny which was carried out in the name of the Divine Right of King's (usurpation of property) was challenged by Libelism and so to was "the tyranny of the majority..." The purpose of a separation of powers was not to separate power, but to protect liberty. Separation of powers was not, is not an end in itself but is a means to an end.

    The idea or rule of law is to prevent any person or power from overriding liberty unjustly. This idea or rule of law does not mean that no matter what the law is, you obey it because it is THE LAW... This is not the meaning of rule of law in liberal theory. In fact, rule of law theory is routed in a deeper principal that law is only just if it does uphold JUSTICE!

    Natural LAW was an idea introduced from Aristotle, developed through Islamic philosophers in Spain, further developed and enhanced by Acquinas, and through Acquinas found its way into the works of Locke.

    From Acquinas: "human law is law inasmuch as it is in conformity with right reason and thus derives from the eternal law. But when a law is contrary to reason, it is called an unjust law; but in this case it ceases to be a law and becomes instead an act of violence".

    This principle lays the basis and grounds for civil disobedience within a liberal context...

    This applies to societies based on Islamic Shariah.

    The Hadith of Bukhari and Muslim expound the framework for the protection of liberty, life and property, Prophet (SAW) said that a Muslim is to be safe from other Muslim's, and that it was unlawful for property and life to be touched. A Muslim's life and property are inviolable. The saying, beware of the prayer of the oppressed as their is no barrier between the oppressed and Allah, for example, was stated in the context of the best of one's livestock or property taken in the name of forcefully collecting Zakat. Whilst Abu Bakr allowed Zakat to be taken by force when necessary and in extreme situations of greed and social injustice(as the word Islam is derived from the word for safety and even etymologically implies social justice) their were limits, it was deemed oppression as life, liberty and property were to be upheld.

    The Jihad expeditions were aimed at eradicating extreme injustice and darkness (Zulm) and can not be used to justify encroachments on liberty in the traditionally used modernist sense.

    Also, in terms of separation of powers, it must be stated that there are Islamic principles defending this arrangement. Their are Hadith's and Ayat's from the Kalam (The Qur'an) threatening tyrants and hoarders, so the general idea of freedom from oppression, is deeply Islamic... This is not the forum to expound this, but the very act of witnessing Islam, the Shahada, starts with a radical NO (La) means NO Lord, so the very spirit of Islam, in its deepest essence, reesists tyranny of King's, so the spirit, the impulse behind early liberalism and Islam are the same - resistance of human Gods who attempt to usurp absolute powers. The principle behind a separation of powers could be seen as deeply Islamic...

    Hadith's from Bukhari and Muslim which promote one Imam (leader in a politico-religious sense) to the point political challenge must be stamped out must be seen in the light of the extremely aggressive society Islam emerged from and the pressing need to preserve Peace and freedom from the ever present threat of anarchy (tyranny is better than anarchy.) However, these Hadith must be seen to be contextual because their are Sahih Ahadith which promote disobedience if a rule is not Islamic.
    Futhermore, there are examples that even the Suhaba challenged the Rasul (SAW) on certain decisions, and Fatwa was changed.

    On Shariah not being adequate, well that depends on how Shariah is applied. The earliest jurists utilized Maslahah and were not literalists, they changed convention and what could be regarded as constitution in ways to best promote compassion or social utility (Maslahah).

  16. On the idea of natural law being eternal, I would have to expound the debates on the etrenal, unwritten nature of the Qur'an between the ZAhirite and those who use Al-Rai (reason) and creative ijtihad in implementing Shariah. However, the point is, the concept of enforceable natural justice is known by Maldivian Islamic jurists because it is also in Islam, though understood in different ways. The mutazilites espoused the theory that the eternal Qur'an was not the context based subjective Qur'an as we have it, but the objective, universal law, as understood best by understanding the application of the 99 names of Allah to the use of reason and logic to learn the natural law.

    Again, Suhabin were not literalists, but were those moved by the Rahmatulla (Mercy of Allah) and by the disciplines of Islam meant to instill Adhaalath (Equity, justice) in Niyat Al Qulp (the true heart or the intention of the heart)... True fasting, As Saum, is to teac, among other things, true justice, and to purify ones Iqlas (sincerity...)

    The problem with Maldivian judiciary is not just a lack of knowledge, it is something else, I would propose.

  17. I have read this contribution from Raadhafathi with great interest.

    But who is he? I like to know his name. I also want to know whether he got permission from his employers, which can only be either the Judicial Service Commission or the Ministry of Justice.

    Is it wise to publish such an article on such a website as Minivan News? I do not think so.

    Upto now, throughout Maldivian history, I do not believe any Maldivian ruler has ever contemplated creating an independent judiciary, let alone work to achieve that goal.

    President Nasheed is the first " ruler " to talk about it publicly.

    It will take years to do it. Let us be honest and frank about it.

    All our past rulers were dictators. They made sure that the judiciary was docile, like the rest of the population.They had to be quiet and easy to control.

    The challenge that we are faced with is to raise the general level of education in the country as a whole, as much as to create an independent judiciary.

  18. Its a pity to believe that we are been abused by the rich politicians.

    There is no way for Maldives to get the Equal rights or what they call democracy with people like Qasim, Alhaan, Ali Waheed, Yamin etc.. I wonder why we have to stay and watch the Headlines. We should be brave enough to understand the present and what had happened in the history. Its is time to stand for or right and kill bribery.

  19. Why cant anyone talk about the the what happened to the HRCM vote. Ahmed Saleem was dropped from only one vote.

    Alhaan and Rasheed of MDP was under Qasims influence of bribery. As this is an involvement of parties no ones wants to talk further on this. WHY?

  20. I don't have any faith in this Dr
    Didi guy who is currently on the bench of our Supreme Court. He managed to get in there by curry favouring this corr..Abdulla Shahid, so called Speaker of Majlis who is elected as an MP with less than 200 votes!!! Now this Dr Didi is the guy who said that we have a parliamentary system of government!! I wonder from where this guy got his doctorate...may be over the internet!!!

  21. @hope

    This website is not a foreign site. It is registered in the Maldives and is 100% Maldivian. So why dont you get your facts right before you say anything about our pride!!

  22. Hi why talk about only judiciary and judicial capacity? What we experience in all areas of our governing system are the products of wide spread corruption.Our economy is driven by distorted intentions. The dominant feature of our society is inequality and injustice. Our politics undermines popular voice and rule of law. No one trusts the other. This is what people experience in totally corrupt communities. So the only way to salvage the judiciary, the executive, the legislature and the country at large is by weeding out corruption at all levels and in all areas including our homes. Just a battle against a majority opposition is not a battle against corruption.

  23. HI all,

    Ya as some of you pointed out, they are excellent articles with worth while facts.But its a bore to read all about the constitutions, the laws, the cabinet, bills..I donno..

    Y and we all talk about setting a copy system in Maldives? I dont even know how to say this..We cannot follow a 100% muslim shariah bcz we dont want to cut pples hands..and the democratic system has so many loop holes which I am sure you all have seen and read above..

    to Put it short Muslim+Democracy doesnt mix up well..We are one of the worlds most rarest of island nation compromised of a democratic development, a 2020 ideology and a muslim base. E=MC2.

    Some of the democratic laws do not apply to da muslim philosophy and vise versa. The wet made democracy for the west. Why cant maldives make the laws for its pple, environments and social bonds all unique.

    Maldives has well educated pple now. "Bright minds dat never lit" The west, the east, the north and south will assist us if we truly try to make the law for us. I mean doesnt it even occur to any one?Spending years correcting, printing, correcting, deleting....theres a first time for everything...

  24. radhafathi - you work is an eye opener for most of us. well in the light of your work and the up comming ICJ will help solve the problems and fix the judiciary i hope very much

  25. A very good article.

    I would just like to add certain points regarding the administrative staff workiing for the judiciary.

    - Their matters are overseen by a hodgepodge of "authorities" with judges and magistrates exerting undue influence and engaging in the kind of village politics that drags down productivity in most state institutions.

    - They are extremely overpaid without the necessary incentive to train themselves in order to justify their huge pay.

    - Hiring and firing is carried out on extremely questionable grounds. An advert for job vacancies at the judiciary usually insert the dubious qualification of "capabilities demonstrated at the interview" within the terms of reference. This allows for judges and magistrates who are always present during the interviewing process to appoint staff as favors/attempts at undermining the development of departments and sections within the judiciary.

    - Absolutely NO systems are in place such as even an ad hoc evaluation of performance, monitoring of absenteeism, organizing rewards/incentives/penalties, ensuring proper filing, encouraging positive engagement with those who walk in and out of the courtrooms (this is not meant to say that the rampant practice of gifts-for-administrative-favors should be carried on).

    I would like to make one more general observation. Some of the commenters here have reacted violently to the assertion or implication that a good command of the English language is necessary for the development of the judiciary. Please try to consider these facts before trying to politicize and emotionalize an issue which is strictly in the area of human resource.

    - English is the universal language of academia these days and most texts and research are in that medium. Therefore a good command of Divehi and Arabic, although admirable, does not allow for sector development with regards to the judiciary.

    - Common law should be practiced where FDIs and other foreign interests are concerned. I am sure no one will disagree with this point.

    - Shariah law in its current implementation in the Maldives lacks consistency and modernity. However much you may argue over the soundness of Shariah law and the potential for development, the discourse and practice of it in the Maldives does not lend itself to strengthening a judiciary which is already under attack for its unpredictability and open avenues for corruption.

    - "Western" degrees are subject, most NOT ALL, of the time to vigorous monitoring and assessment of standards. Most of know that the quality of degrees acquired within an education system such as the one which exists in Malaysia is frighteningly dependent on the drive of individual universities and not on third-party assessment and is also part of a tourism industry which churns out degrees for cash.

    Once again, where our country is concerned, I think it would be in our best interest to train future jurists in a language which would not cripple them in their efforts to seek career development thereby stunting the growth of a vital sector of governance.


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