UNHRC votes to extend mandate of UN Special Rapporteur on Iran, Dr Ahmed Shaheed

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has extended the mandate of Dr Ahmed Shaheed as UN Special Rapporteur on Iran.

Shaheed, who also held the post of Maldives Minister of Foreign Affairs, was voted in with 26 votes in favour, 2 votes against and 17 abstentions during a UNHRC session in Geneva, Switzerland.

Shaheed has been previously refused access into Iran by Iranian authorities in order to investigate the country’s human rights situation, after the government accused him of accepting bribes from the United States.

Dr Shaheed presented his most recent report to the council on March 2013. Despite not being allowed into Iran, the Special Rapporteur has conducted 409 interviews “with primary sources located inside and outside the country.”

According to the report, 169 interviews were between September and December 2012 for the March 2013 report.

The report highlights “continued and widespread systemic and systematic violations of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Moreover, a lack of government investigation and redress generally fosters a culture of impunity, further weakening the impact of the human rights instruments Iran has ratified.”


President wanted “credit” for Maamigili Airport lease extension: former transport minister

Former Minister of Transport Dr Ahmed Shamheed has criticised his removal from cabinet last year following the decision to extend the lease of Maamigili Airport by 99 years.

Shamheed has claimed that he was dismissed by President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik following the approval of the airport lease extension because the president wanted to take credit for the decision.  The lease was given at the time to the Chairman of Villa Group, Gasim Ibrahim.

Last month, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) began an investigation into the 99-year lease of the airport. According to the ACC President, Hassan Luthfee, the investigation is still ongoing.

Despite the investigation, President Waheed inaugurated Maamigili Airport last week (February 28).

Shamheed claimed that the decision to extend the airport lease had been made whilst former President Mohamed Nasheed had been in power, and that the decision was not one he had made on his own.

“It was the economic committee who had decided on the lease, I never decided on my own. It was initiated by the committee actually, that is how it started,” Shamheed alleged to Minivan News.

“It do not think it was the 99-year lease that was the problem, I heard from people close to him that he thought he should be the one making the decision. He thought he should take the credit for that.”

Shamheed was nominated to his former ministerial post by the government-aligned Jumhooree Party (JP) – of which Gasim is the party’s president.

Speaking back in November 2012, the former transport minister told local media that the documents to extend the airport lease for 99 years had been sent to the transport ministry by Nasheed’s government.

“The current government delayed the matter. The president government only endorsed the decision. It was decided by the NPC [National Planning Council] during the former government,” he was quoted as saying in local newspaper Haveeru.

President Waheed inaugurated Villa International Airport in Maamigili Island in south Ari Atoll on February 28.

Speaking at the ceremony, Waheed thanked Chairman of Villa Group, Gasim Ibrahim, before stating that he was greatly honoured to inaugurate the airport.

The main objective of making the airport an international airport was to improve the country’s transport system and the tourism industry, Waheed said during the ceremony.