Government appeals for ‘fair and objective assessment’ from Amnesty International

The government has urged an Amnesty International delegation currently visiting the Maldives to conduct a “fair and objective assessment of the situation on the ground.”

The human rights organisation had released a briefing report titled ‘Assault on civil and political rights’ after a fact-finding mission in the Maldives from April 17 to 22.

The foreign ministry at the time accused Amnesty of tarnishing the Maldives’ image in collusion with the opposition and dismissed its observations of a “rapidly deteriorating” human rights situation as “preposterous fabrications with zero truth.”

At a press conference today, foreign minister Dunya Maumoon said the government was concerned with the Amnesty delegation’s decision in April to meet with only officials and supporters of the opposition party.

Dunya said the government had offered to arrange meetings with senior officials and to facilitate a visit to former President Mohamed Nasheed in prison at a latter date, “but they didn’t respect our word and came to the Maldives at a convenient time for them.”

Amnesty International’s Maldives researcher, Abbas Faiz, told Minivan News at the time the government was informed on April 2 of the visit planned for later in the month.

“The government suggested that we delay the visit until mid or end of May to better facilitate requested meetings with the authorities,” he said.

“Amnesty International informed the government in response that it will proceed with its visit in April as planned, that this visit will focus on meeting members of civil society, and that we are planning to have another meeting in May to meet government representatives as suggested by the authorities.”

The foreign ministry has since arranged meetings with high-level officials for the Amnesty International team in the Maldives from June 23 to 26.

“Constructive engagement”

Dunya said the government will cooperate with Amnesty International and address its concerns despite the organisation previously spreading “falsehoods” about the Maldives.

“The government reiterates the importance of constructive engagement to avoid one-sided reporting that would tarnish Maldives’ reputation without grounds and affect the stability, development and democratic progress made in the country,” the foreign ministry said in a statement today.

“Again, the government notes the biased and baseless allegations made by Amnesty International in the past.”

The Maldives is “still a young democracy”, it added, and stressed the government’s commitment to legislative and constitutional reforms.

“The government of Maldives expects international partners to recognise the progress made and values collaboration based on constructive engagement so long as any such work does not seek to create division within the Maldivian society,” the foreign ministry said.

Dunya said the human rights situation in the Maldives has been “improving steadily” and that the current administration has “enacted a total of 18 key human rights legislations within a period of less than 18 months, which is an unparalleled record in the history of the Maldives.”

In its briefing report, Amnesty had said that the government was cracking down on peaceful protests, stifling dissent, and “abusing the judicial system” to imprison opposition politicians.

In response, the foreign ministry accused Amnesty of seeking to “undermine and defame the Maldives judiciary and its national institutions.”

Abbas said Amnesty’s recommendations to the government were made “on the basis of solid evidence, as detailed in our press release and briefing.”

“We have highlighted the cases of individuals regardless of their party affiliation. We urge the authorities to address the violations documented in our reports, including the serious breaches of fair trial standards,” he said.

Amnesty had called the conviction of former President Nasheed on terrorism charges in March “a travesty of justice.” The 19-day trial was widely criticised by foreign governments and the UN over its apparent lack of due process.

In recent weeks, diplomatic pressure has been mounting on the Maldives to release “political prisoners.”

The European parliament in April adopted a resolution condemning the “serious irregularities” of Nasheed’s terrorism trial while US secretary of state John Kerry said during a visit to Sri Lanka that the opposition leader was “imprisoned without due process”.

“This is an injustice that needs to be addressed soon,” he said.

Earlier this month, US senators John McCain and Jack Reed urged their government to press for the release of all political prisoners in the Maldives.


Government accuses Amnesty of colluding with MDP to tarnish Maldives’ image

The government has accused Amnesty International of tarnishing the Maldives’ image in collusion with the opposition, dismissing its concerns of a crackdown on human rights as “preposterous fabrications with zero truth”.

Amnesty’s observations of a “rapidly deteriorating” human rights situation are “fallacious”, contended foreign minister Dunya Maumoon, accusing the organisation of seeking to “undermine and defame the Maldives judiciary and its national institutions.”

“The general human rights situation in the Maldives has been improving steadily especially following the reform agenda launched in 2004 leading to the ushering in of a modern constitution in 2008,” she insisted in a statement on Friday.

“Additional impetus has been seen during President [Abdulla] Yameen’s government in terms of promotion and protection of human rights.”

The enactment of 18 pieces of legislation under the current administration is “an unparalleled record in the history of the Maldives,” she added.

Amnesty had said in a report last week that the government is cracking down on peaceful protests, stifling dissent, and “abusing the judicial system” to imprison opposition politicians.


Amnesty’s allegation of police attacking peaceful protesters “is ludicrous and an absolute lie”, Dunya said.

The nightly anti-government protests staged by the opposition coalition in the capital “attract an extremely small crowd, and the police are able to control the protest well and ensure peace and security for all citizens of Malé.”

“The opposition MDP have however, by contrast, in the past been responsible for systematic acts of arson and other violent acts,” the ministry claimed.

MDP spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy told Minivan News today that Dunya was speaking on behalf of the Gayoom family. Dunya is the daughter of ex-president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and niece of president Yameen.

“Foreign minister Dunya Maumoon sounds like North Korea when she keeps rejecting any concern raised by any international organisation, be it Amnesty, the Commonwealth, European Union, United Nations or even concerns raised by friendly countries,” he said.

“This says it all. The government has no intention at all to protect human rights in the country and come into line with the internationally recognised standards.”


Amnesty’s briefing report titled ‘Assault on civil and political rights’ was released after a delegation conducted a fact-finding mission in the Maldives from April 17 to 22.

The delegation said it sought meetings with government officials and a visit to Dhoonidhoo detention centre to meet ex-president Nasheed, but the foreign ministry offered to facilitate the meetings in May.

However, Dunya said the delegation visited the Maldives on April 27 despite a mutual agreement to schedule a visit for May and “choose to meet with only officials and supporters of former President Nasheed’s opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).”

The ministry said it has facilitated visits to Nasheed in prison by the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Commonwealth, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. 

“The government of Maldives maintains its engagement first policy and continues to hold constructive dialogue with its international partners, including international non-governmental organisations that are serious about and value such dialogue,” it said.

“Sham trial”

After launching the briefing at a press conference in Delhi last Thursday, Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International’s Maldives researcher, said Nasheed’s imprisonment “came after a sham trial.”

“It is disturbing how far the Maldives government has co-opted the judiciary as a tool to cement its own hold on power,” he said.

Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in prison last month after a 19-day trial widely criticised by foreign governments and the UN for its apparent lack of due process.

However, the foreign ministry said Amnesty’s accusations about Nasheed’s trial are “without any basis.”

Nasheed was sentenced for the “abduction and enforced disappearance” of criminal court chief judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

“President Nasheed has been tried, convicted and sentenced for this heinous crime as per Maldivian laws,” the ministry said.

“His rights were assured to him and he chose not to appeal the verdict or sentence of Criminal Court. Amnesty through its baseless allegations once again seeks to undermine and defame the Maldives judiciary and its national institutions.”

Amnesty had said it “welcomes the investigation of alleged past human rights abuses committed in the Maldives, but the organisation remains concerned that the case pursued against Mohamed Nasheed was politically motivated and selective” as human rights abuses under both the current and previous presidents remain unaddressed.

“Amnesty International is also concerned that the outcome of the trial appeared to have been predetermined to procure a conviction against Nasheed even before the trial began,” the briefing stated.


MDP MP appeals for Indian pressure to release Nasheed

An opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP has appealed for Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s help to secure the release of imprisoned ex-president Mohamed Nasheed.

The disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan, death threats against journalists and human rights defenders, and an arson attack against opposition-aligned Raajje TV are “symptomatic of the Maldives’ slide into tyranny,” MP Eva Abdulla wrote in a letter to the Indian prime minister.

“I hope you can use your good offices to pressure the Maldivian government to release President Nasheed and other political prisoners, return to rule of law, uphold the constitution and protect the basic human rights of all Maldivians,” reads the letter sent on April 22.

Eva’s appeal was echoed by Amnesty International last week, which warned that the human rights situation in the Maldives is “rapidly deteriorating” with the government cracking down on peaceful protests, stifling dissent, and imprisoning opposition politicians.

Raghu Menon, Amnesty International India’s advocacy coordinator, said India as a regional power “has a responsibility to work towards a human rights-friendly environment in the Maldives.”

The ruling coalition has previously condemned calls for Indian intervention as “irresponsible”.

“Urging India to intervene in a sovereign nation’s internal affairs is a betrayal of our constitution. Its results will be bitter, especially on the Maldivian public,” majority leader of parliament Ahmed Nihan told Minivan News after Nasheed urged India before his arrest in February to ensure the security of opposition politicians.

Foreign minister Dunya Maumoon has also expressed confidence that India “will not intervene in domestic politics of Maldives.”

Following Nasheed’s arrest and prosecution on controversial terrorism charges, Modi dropped the Maldives from a tour of Indian Ocean neighbours in early March.

Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in prison last month on terrorism charges related to the military’s detention of a judge during his tenure. The 19-day trial was widely criticised by foreign governments, the UN, and Amnesty International for its apparent lack of due process.

“Slide towards dictatorship”

Rilwan’s disappearance on August 8 in a suspected abduction “highlights the nature of today’s Maldives, where the rule by fear has taken the place of rule of law,” Eva wrote.

The government’s commitment to finding Rilwan was “questionable” as president Abdulla Yameen refused to comment on the disappearance.

“Of the many human rights abuses that have taken place in the Maldives, Rilwan’s has resonated across the country for its encapsulation of every fear within our society,” she said, adding that the disappearance came after “months of intimidation against journalists, civil society, and independent institutions.”

The public was still awaiting answers, she continued, as police have not “credibly” investigated the murder of former MP Afrasheem Ali, the attempted murder of Raajje TV journalist Ibrahim Waheed ‘Asward’, and the torching of Raajje TV’s studios.

Eva accused the current administration of using its parliamentary majority to “crush dissent, eliminate political opposition and make laws to facilitate executive and judicial tyranny” and offering immunity from prosecution to violent gangs that operate with impunity.

“An impunity and patronage the government makes no attempt to hide,” she added.

She further contended that “confessions through torture, show trials, and state sponsored violence” of the autocratic past have returned under president Yameen.

However, Eva said “Maldivians refuse to be cowed by president Yameen’s authoritarian tactics” and have taken to the streets to protest against “the slide towards dictatorship.”

“In tightening its grip, the regime appears to be losing it,” she suggested.

“More political parties, politicians and activists are leaving the regime and joining the opposition coalition.”

The Indian government has “the power to make a difference in the Maldives” and had been crucial to the success of the democratic reform movement that culminated in the adoption of a rights-based constitution and multi-party elections in 2008.

“The movement cannot end yet, we have come too far to leave this conflict to our children,” she wrote.

“So we ask India’s help again. I believe it is in India’s interest to see the Maldives return to the democratic path. We cannot afford another failed Muslim democracy, nor a front of instability in the Indian Ocean.”


Maldives human rights situation ‘rapidly deteriorating’

The human rights situation in the Maldives is “rapidly deteriorating” with the government cracking down on peaceful protests, stifling dissent, and imprisoning opposition politicians, Amnesty International has said.

A delegation from the international human rights organisation conducted a fact-finding mission in the Maldives from April 17 to 22 and released a briefing report titled ‘Assault on civil and political rights’ today.

“There’s a climate of fear spreading in the Maldives, as safeguards on human rights are increasingly eroded. The authorities have a growing track record of silencing critical voices by any means necessary – be it through the police, the judicial system, or outright threats and harassment. This must end immediately,” said Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International’s Maldives researcher, after launching the briefing at a press conference in New Delhi, India.

“The international community must wake up and realise that behind the façade of a tourist paradise, there is a dark trend in the Maldives where the human rights situation is rapidly deteriorating.”

Raghu Menon, Amnesty International India’s advocacy coordinator, who was part of the fact-finding mission, said India as a regional power “has a responsibility to work towards a human rights-friendly environment in the Maldives.”

The delegation also sought meetings with government officials this week, but were offered meetings in May.

President’s office spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali told Minivan News today that he did not wish to comment on the report.

“The government has invited various international organisations. So they will come and reveal [information about] their work. The government does not have to respond to each report. The government will take the initiative and respond in cases where it believes it has to,” he said.

The delegation also requested a visit to the Dhoonidhoo detention centre to meet former president Mohamed Nasheed and other detainees, but the foreign ministry offered to facilitate a visit in May.

Faiz meanwhile called on the government to “immediately end its disturbing crackdown on human rights.”

“Political tensions are already at a boiling point, and further harassment and attacks on those opposing the authorities will only make the situation spiral out of control,” he warned.

“The international community cannot turn a blind eye to what is happening in the Maldives. The upcoming UN [Universal Period Review] session in Geneva in May is a key moment to push the Maldives authorities to immediately take concrete action to improve the country’s human rights situation.”


Amnesty said the government was “abusing the judicial system” to imprison political opponents, including opposition leader Nasheed, ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim, and former ruling party MP Ahmed Nazim.

“Mohamed Nasheed’s imprisonment came after a sham trial, but he is far from the only one locked up on trumped-up charges and after unfair trials. It is disturbing how far the Maldives government has co-opted the judiciary as a tool to cement its own hold on power,” said Faiz.

Amnesty also noted that at least 140 people have been arrested from opposition protests since February, with the court releasing several protesters on the condition that they do not attend protests for 30 to 60 days.

The opposition, human rights NGOS, and the prosecutor general have said the condition is unconstitutional as freedom of assembly is a fundamental right.

“Additionally, police have imposed far-ranging restrictions on where and when protests in the Maldives capital Male can take place,” Amnesty said.

“Demonstrations are only allowed in certain areas far away from official buildings, contrary to international law and standards.”

The briefing also noted increasing threats and attacks against journalists, civil society organisations, and human rights defenders, adding that police have not “meaningfully” investigated threatening text messages or phone calls.

Amnesty said that “vigilante religious groups allegedly in cahoots with the police have in recent years stepped up kidnappings and attacks on social gatherings, in particular against those accused of promoting ‘atheism.'”

“This year, such gangs have in connivance with police attacked peaceful demonstrators, yet no one has been brought to justice for these attacks.”

The briefing also noted that the Supreme Court last year charged the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) with “high treason and undermining the constitution” following the state watchdog’s submission on the state of human rights in the Maldives to the UPR.

Meanwhile, in an op-ed published on The New York Times this week, Mariyam Shiuna, executive director of local NGO Transparency Maldives, observed that “political persecution has intensified, civil society is silenced and media intimidation has become the norm.”

“The international community needs to put pressure on the government to halt its crackdown on opponents and dissidents from all parts of the political sphere. Without basic freedoms and space for dissent the Maldives is slipping back to the dark days of dictatorship,” she wrote.


Respect Criminal Court verdict, says President Yameen

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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US, EU, and UK concerned over lack of due process in Nasheed trial

The United States, United Kingdom and the European Union have expressed concern with the lack of due process in the trial of former President Mohamed Nasheed, who was convicted of terrorism charges and sentenced to 13 years in prison last night.

“Despite the calls from the international community for due process to be followed, we are concerned that the former President’s trial has not been conducted in a transparent and impartial manner or in accordance with due legal process,” said UK Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire in a statement.

He added that the UK would be watching the appeal process closely.

“I recognise that this outcome will be deeply worrying for many in the Maldives. I therefore urge calm across the Maldives and encourage all political parties to act with moderation, restraint and within the bounds of the law,” Swire urged.

“We have been consulting closely on our concerns with Commonwealth partners, and we will continue to do so over the coming days.”

The US meanwhile expressed concern with “the apparent lack of appropriate criminal procedures during the trial”.

“We are particularly troubled by reports that the trial was conducted in a manner contrary to Maldivian law and Maldives’ international obligations to provide the minimum fair trial guarantees and other protections under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),” reads a statement by the US embassy in Colombo.

“This includes the denial of legal representation to former President Nasheed during the first hearing and concerns regarding the lack of impartiality and independence of the judges.

“We call on the government of Maldives to take steps to restore confidence in its commitment to democracy and the rule of law, including judicial independence, and to ensure fundamental rights are respected including the freedom of speech and of the press as well as the right to peaceful assembly and peaceful protest.  We urge the government to ensure former President Nasheed’s safety and well being in custody, and we hope all Maldivians will express their views peacefully.”

The EU said Nasheed’s conviction “raises very serious questions about due process of law and risks undermining people’s trust in the independence of the judiciary.”

The EU statement also noted that due legal process was obligatory for the Maldives under the ICCPR.

“Should the conviction be appealed, the appeal process must be fair and transparent with former President Nasheed being accorded all his rights, including adequate access to his lawyers,” the EU stated.

“The European Union calls on all sides in the Maldives to act responsibly and uphold constitutional freedoms.”

Indian External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin meanwhile tweeted saying India was “deeply concerned at developments in the Maldives, monitoring situation closely.”

“Travesty of justice”

Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon has previously condemned international statements of concern, stating: “Those who prefer to issue public statements about an on-going legal case, or on a domestic political situation, are advised to do a basic fact-check, before bandwagoning on to accusations made by a political party.”

Dunya asserted in a statement that President Abdulla Yameen’s administration “will not take instructions from a foreign government on any issue in governing the country.”

Moreover, President Yameen has declared that foreigners would not be allowed to meddle in domestic affairs and the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has condemned the international community’s “hypocrisy and double standards” with regard to Nasheed’s trial.

Meanwhile, in a statement today, Amnesty International said Nasheed’s sentencing “after a deeply flawed and politically motivated trial is a travesty of justice.”

“Amnesty International condemns the conviction of Mohamed Nasheed to 13 years in jail by judges who were state witnesses during an earlier investigation of this case. This trial has been flawed from start to finish, and the conviction is unsound,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director.

“Rather than responding to international calls to strengthen the impartiality of the judiciary the government of the Maldives has proceeded with this sham trial for political reasons”.

Amnesty noted that the opposition leader was denied legal representation at the first hearing of the trial and that at latter hearings his lawyers were not given sufficient time to prepare his defence.

Nasheed’s conviction last night received widespread coverage in international media and was greeted with outrage by several prominent figures who have called for his release.

Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, called the outcome of the trial “beyond a joke” and declared he would not visit the Maldives until the opposition leader was released.


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Nasheed prosecution highlights “selective approach to justice,” says Amnesty International

The arrest and prosecution of former President Mohamed Nasheed on charges of terrorism highlights “a selective approach to justice in the Maldives,” Amnesty International has said.

The international human rights organisation noted in a press statement yesterday (March 3) that the court did not order an investigation of Nasheed’s alleged mistreatment by police on February 23.

“The court also denied him the right to be represented by his lawyer at the hearing, and rejected his request to receive medical treatment for injuries caused after police manhandled him outside the court premises,” reads the statement.

Following his arrest on February 22 ahead of a surprise terrorism trial, Nasheed appeared in court the next day using his tie as a makeshift sling after police manhandled and dragged the opposition leader into the court building.

Citing new regulations, the Criminal Court meanwhile informed the legal team on the day of the first hearing that the lawyers had to register at the court two days in advance despite being unaware of the trial until the former president’s arrest the previous day.

However, the government has maintained that due process was followed in Nasheed’s arrest and dismissed the incident outside the court building as “a stunt” pulled by the opposition leader in order to garner sympathy and support from the international community.

The government also insists that it has no role in the criminal proceedings as charges were raised by an independent Prosecutor General and tried through an independent judiciary.

Amnesty International meanwhile noted that Prosecutor General Muthaz Muhsin pressed charges against Nasheed under anti-terrorism laws after withdrawing previous charges filed under Article 81 of the penal code for illegally detaining a government employee who had not been convicted of a crime.

While the latter offence carries a jail term of up to three years, the charges of terrorism under “enforced disappearance” carries a jail sentence of between 10 to 15 years.

“A conviction would stop Mohamed Nasheed, a popular opposition leader, from contesting future presidential elections, with the next one due in 2018,” Amnesty observed.

Nasheed’s arrest warrant stated that he might not attend trial or go into hiding, Amnesty noted, and the Criminal Court at the first hearing ordered police to hold the former president in custody until the conclusion of the trial.

“Claims of his ill-treatment were substantiated by video footage, viewed by Amnesty International, which appear to show him being manhandled,” the statement continued.

“This was reminiscent of the events of February 2012 when Nasheed and his supporters were attacked by security forces. Eyewitnesses say he was dragged into the court in a degrading manner. He told the judge that he was in need of medical attention, but the judge refused his request.”

Echoing calls by the Commonwealth, UN, EU, and the UK, Amnesty urged the government to “ensure the due process of law, and that any judicial processes against Mohamed Nasheed conform to international fair trial standards.”

Amnesty also called for an independent and impartial investigation into Nasheed’s mistreatment in police custody as well as the judge’s refusal to allow the former president to seek medical treatment.

“Dozens of Nasheed’s supporters, including senior members and MPs of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) were attacked and subjected to brutal beatings at the time of the disputed ousting of Mohamed Nasheed from the presidency in February 2012,” Amnesty said, referring to a brutal crackdown on opposition supporters on February 8.

“Despite concerns expressed by Amnesty International, a National Commission of Inquiry investigating the circumstances of Nasheed’s ousting, and the Maldives Human Rights Commission, no one has yet been brought to justice for those attacks. Nasheed’s arrest stands in contrast to government inaction in these cases and undermines its stated claim that his arrest is to uphold the rule of law.”

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Amnesty to investigate reports of Nazim’s “arbitrary” detention

Amnesty International have announced they will be looking into the detention of former defence minister Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim.

“Amnesty International is investigating reports of arbitrary arrest of former defence minister, Mohamed Nazim, and his detention condition,” tweeted the NGO’s South Asia Specialist Abbas Faiz.

Nazim was arrested on February 10 and remanded in police custody for 15 days on charge related to illegal weapons allegedly discovered in his home on January 18.

A police statement issued the following day claimed to have found documents in a pen drive confiscated from Nazim’s house during a midnight raid on January 18 suggesting he “was plotting to physically harm senior Maldivian state officials.”

“In addition, police intelligence has received information that he was plotting with various parties to overthrow the government,” the statement read.

Nazim’s legal team have claimed that the pistol, ammunition, and explosive device found in the former minister’s home were planted by investigating officers – claims the police have denied.

After his dismissal two days after the police raid, Nazim suggested that no Maldivian could be assured of safety.

Both the president of the religious conservative Adhaalath Party and the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have expressed similar concern in recent days.

“It is very likely that in the near future many others like Nazim will be thrown into jail cells like him,” read a tweet from Sheikh Imran Abdulla yesterday, followed by the ‘justicefornazim’ hashtag.

Similarly, MDP Chairman Ali Waheed told crowds at an opposition rally this weekend that Nazim’s sudden fall was a concern.

“The day before yesterday the defense minister was hailed and deemed trustworthy. Now he is in a jail cell accused of crimes of a magnitude never seen before in Maldives,” said Waheed.

Deputy Leader of the Jumhooree Party Ameen Ibrahim also noted that the public must be 100 percent assured of the former defence minister’s safety.

Last month, Amnesty published a report to be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council which argued that the human rights situation has deteriorated in the Maldives over the past four years.

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Amnesty calls for moratorium on flogging in Maldives

Amnesty International has called upon the Maldives to establish a moratorium on flogging, and to annul all convictions for the crime of fornication.

The human rights NGO has made the recommendations as part of its submission for the 60th session of the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women later this month.

“Laws criminalizing ‘fornication’ or ‘adultery’ can act as a deterrent to women and girls reporting rape because they fear being prosecuted if their allegations are not believed,” reads the submission.

The committee is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

In its submission for the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, released last month, Amnesty argued that human rights in the Maldives in general had deteriorated over the past four years.

While having ratified CEDAW in 1993, the Maldives has maintained reservations to any provision which may contradict the principles of Islamic Sharia enshrined in the country’s Constitution.

“As frequently highlighted by UN treaty bodies and UN Special Procedures, including CEDAW, flogging constitutes a cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and the criminalization of fornication is a violation of the rights to privacy and bodily autonomy,” said Amnesty.

The NGO reported that attempts to gain statistics of the incidence of flogging from the Prosecutor General’s Office had been unsuccessful.

New regulations for flogging introduced by the Supreme Court last October noted that the offender must be of sound mind, must not be pregnant, and must not have an illness that could endanger his or her life due to flogging.

Moreover, a sentence for flogging must be implemented after the convict has either exhausted the appeal process or declined to appeal the verdict in the specified period.

Information previously made available by the Department of Judicial Administration showed that, while applicable to both men and women, flogging is largely discriminatory against women in practice.

“In 2013, the office of the Prosecutor General told Amnesty International that convictions were primarily based on confessions, and that if the accused denied the allegations, the charge of ‘fornication’ would normally be dropped,” read the report.

“The office said men usually denied such allegations, and were therefore not charged. This was also true for some women, unless they had become pregnant or were under pressure from their communities. In such cases they admitted to the allegations and were charged.”

Additionally, Amnesty’s submission to the committee recommends that the Maldives bring laws on rape and other forms of sexual violence into line with international human rights standards.

Amnesty also called upon government to investigate and prosecute all allegations of rape and other forms of sexual violence and ensure that anyone who reports rape or other forms of sexual violence is provided with appropriate support services.

While polls conducted in recent years suggest that two thirds of Maldivians would support a moratorium on the practice, public criticism of the practice has caused unrest.

After UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called for a moratorium while speaking in the People’s Majlis in 2011, protesters gathered outside the United Nations Building in Malé, calling for her arrest.

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