UK MPs highlight “deteriorating situation” in the Maldives

An early day motion has been tabled in the UK Parliament calling upon the House of Commons to support the UN secretary general’s call for a “credible and peaceful second round of voting” in the Maldives.

The motion, sponsored by MP Grahame Morris, also called upon members of the House of Commons to declare that it “condemns those who are seeking to prevent President Mohamed Nasheed from participating in any future elections in the Maldives; further condemns the perpetrators of the arson attack that destroyed the opposition-supporting Raaje TV station in Male’; and demands that the authorities take all necessary steps to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Attempts to disqualify Nasheed’s candidacy – reportedly now backed by the religious Adhaalath Party – have already been criticised by incumbent President Dr Mohamed Waheed.

Rarely debated on the floor of the house, early day motions are used as a way to publicise topics of interest to certain MPs, with fellow members invited to add their name to the motion.

Robert Buckland MP this week also asked the leader of the house if time could be made available in the commons’ schedule for discussion of the current political crisis in the Maldives.

“May we find time for an urgent debate on the deteriorating situation in the Maldives, where the first round of a presidential election has been annulled and it is feared the authorities are trying to obstruct the return to power of President Nasheed, who was ousted in a coup last year and who clearly won an election that was described by international observers as free and fair?”

Leader of the House Andrew Lansley assured Buckland that he would request the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to brief the house on the current situation during the next oral question session, if not earlier – the next FCO question time is scheduled for October 29.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to annul the first round of voting earlier this week, UK Foreign Minister William Hague called upon the government of the Maldives to respect the democratic process, and to create conditions for a free and fair poll.

“It is imperative that there are no further delays and the elections be free, fair and inclusive, and that international observers are invited,” said Hague.

The United Kingdom remains one of the Maldives tourism industry’s biggest markets, although recent arrival figures show negative growth of a fall of  -6.4%  in UK arrivals this year when compared with 2012.

The FCO updated its travel advisory for the Maldives after growing unrest following the delaying of polls.

The guidance urged visitors to keep away from demonstrations: “There is no indication at present that any political unrest will affect tourist resorts or airports, but if you have any concerns you should check with your hotel or tour operator,” the statement read.

Voting for the rescheduled first round will begin at 7:30am on Saturday, October 19 and polls will be closed at 4:00pm, the Elections Commission announced at a press conference last night.


UN Secretary General calls upon Maldivians for peaceful election

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged the people of the Maldives to ensure that Saturday’s elections are “conducted in a credible and peaceful manner.”

In a statement posted on the Secretary-General’s official website, he encouraged all candidates to respect the results and to overcome past differences, no matter the winner.

“He urges all Maldivians to work together in a constructive manner toward national harmony and democratic consolidation and he highlights, in particular, the need for a renewed commitment to the institutional reform process,” read the statement.

The UN has announced that it will be sending an observer group to the country for this weekend’s poll.


President meets UN Secretary General in Rio

President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan has met with United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on the sidelines of the Rio +20 summit.

The President’s Office reports Waheed received assurance from Ban that the Maldives can count on the support of the UN as it pursues enhanced democracy and a low-carbon economy.

Waheed explained the recent reforms to the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) which is charged with investigating the event that brought him to the presidency. He also thanked the Secretary General for the help the UN has played in consolidation democracy in the Maldives.

“This ends rumors that the international community doesn’t recognise this government”, President’s Office spokesman Abbas Adil Riza told Haveeru.

In a statement released at the beginning of the month, Ban’s office released a statement offering his commendation to all parties for the successful reformation of the CNI.

“The Secretary-General again urges all parties to resume immediately their political dialogue, both within and outside of Parliament, in order to find a mutually agreeable way forward on the basis of the Constitution and without jeopardizing the democratic gains achieved thus far in the Maldives,” read the statement.


Comment: States obligated to compensate and rehabilitate torture victims

Torture is a brutal attempt to destroy a person’s sense of dignity and sense of human worth. It acts also as a weapon of war, spreading terror beyond its direct victims to communities and societies.

On the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, we honour the men and women who have suffered, enduring their ordeal with courage and inner strength. We mourn, too, those who did not survive.

States must take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under their jurisdiction. There are no exceptional circumstances whatsoever – whether a state of war, or a threat of war, internal political instability, or any other public emergency or national security situation. States’ obligations also include the duty to provide effective and prompt redress, compensation and rehabilitation for all torture victims.

Returning to ordinary life after torture is hard. The United Nations Trust Fund for Victims of Torture assists individuals and organisations around the world to ease physical and psychological pain, re-start shattered lives and support the right to truth and justice through legal assistance.  I thank those Governments and other contributors who make this assistance possible, and I call on all members of the international community to support the Fund. I also commend the many individuals and organisations that provide medical, psychological, legal and social assistance to victims of torture and their families.

The recent entry into force of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances is a welcome addition to the body of international human rights law, since enforced disappearance is yet another manifestation of torture. I appeal to all Members States to allow full and unhindered access by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to places where people are deprived of liberty in their country. I also call on all States that have not done so to ratify the Convention against Torture, and to allow individual complaints by victims under its instruments.

At a time when the legitimate aspirations of people in many regions of the world for greater freedom, dignity and a better life are too often met with violence and repression, I urge States to respect the fundamental rights of all people.

Torture and other forms of cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment and punishment, wherever they occur and whatever the circumstances, can never be justified.

Ban Ki-Moon is the Secretary General of the United Nations.

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]


Comment: UN Message for World Environment Day

Nearly 20 years after the 1992 Earth Summit, the world is once again on the road to Rio – the site of the June 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.

Much has changed in the past two decades, geopolitically and environmentally.  Hundreds of millions of people in Asia, Latin America – and, increasingly, in Africa – have risen from poverty.

Yet, evidence is also accumulating of profound and potentially irreversible changes in the ability of the planet to sustain our progress.

Rapid economic growth has come with costs that traditionally rarely feature in national accounting. These range from atmospheric and water pollution to degraded fisheries and forests, all of which impact prosperity and human well-being.

The theme of World Environment Day this year, “Forests: Nature at Your Service”, emphasizes the multi-trillion dollar value of these and other ecosystems to society – especially the poor.

Despite growing global awareness of the dangers of environmental decline – including climate change, biodiversity loss and desertification – progress since the Earth Summit has been too slow.  We will not build a just and equitable world unless we give equal weight to all three pillars of sustainable development – social, economic and environmental.

To sustainably reduce poverty, guarantee food and nutrition security and provide decent employment for growing populations, we must make the most intelligent use of our natural capital.

India, the global host of World Environment Day in 2011, is among a growing number of countries working to address the pressures of ecological change.

It is also helping to pioneer a better assessment of the economic value of nature-based services, with the assistance of the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank.

India’s Rural Employment Act and the country’s encouragement of renewable energy are significant examples of how to scale up green growth and accelerate the transition to a green economy.

No single day can transform development onto a sustainable path. But on the road to Rio +20, this year’s World Environment Day can send a message that those with influence in government and the private sector can – and must – take the necessary steps that will fulfil the promise of the Earth Summit.

The global public is watching, and expects nothing less.

Ban Ki-moon is the United Nations secretary general.

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]