PPM accuses international community of “double standards and hypocrisy” in Nasheed’s trial

The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has condemned the international community’s “hypocrisy and double standards” with regards to an ongoing terrorism trial against former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Nasheed is accused of abducting Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012. If convicted, he faces a jail term or banishment between ten and 15 years.

Speaking to the press today, MP and PPM Spokesperson Ali Arif said the former president is “close to the international community’s hearts” because he had allegedly “spoken against Islam while abroad.”

The ruling party said “many observers, ‘experts’ and ‘proponents of democratic values’ including many countries and organisations had ignored the many unconstitutional and undemocratic actions of President Nasheed.”

The Commonwealth, EU, Canada, UK, Australia and India have expressed concern over new terror charges against Nasheed, and denial of legal representation and police mistreatment at the trial’s first hearing.

“We wish to ask these observers and organisations whether they really ‘condone the kidnapping of judges.’ Would they call for individuals, and those in positions of authority, to walk free, without any burden of responsibility, after conducting such actions in their own countries?” reads a press statement issued in English.

“Where was the ‘international community’ when the Supreme Court was locked up?” it continued.

The international community had remained “disturbingly silent” when Nasheed “systematically harassed and persecuted” former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, “arbitrarily arrested and detained” then MP and current President Abdulla Yameen, Jumhooree Party (JP) Leader Gasim Ibrahim, Adhaalath Party’s Sheikh Imran Abdulla, and current Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, the statement said.

When Judge Abdulla was detained, “only a few organisations released statements condemning this illegal act,” but today “every minor incident in Maldives warrants a statement by some countries and organisations while many serious and deteriorating situations in other countries are ignored,” it added.

The party called on the international community to respect Maldives sovereignty and not to undermine its institutions.

PPM also accused the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and media of defaming President Yameen and former President Gayoom to “undermine the good name and respect the Maldives holds in the region and the international arena.”

Stressing the PPM remained committed to strengthening and consolidating democracy in the Maldives and protecting human rights, the party said it believed “justice should take its course and no man is above the law.”

The ruling party invited all international parties to come forward and observe the “actual situation” in the Maldives, “which despite distortions of facts perpetuated by some media remain calm and normal.”

Meanwhile, the MDP continues to hold daily protests, with MDP MPs disrupting parliamentary proceedings, while party supporters continue numerous protests in Malé, at the airport and at sea.

Police previously informed Minivan News over 77 individuals have been arrested at opposition protests, with 33 of them being released on condition that they do not go to further protests.

Recently, an open letter signed by 31 global activists and film makers, including Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta, called on the international community to use all resources to “pressure the government to free” Nasheed and “desist in all human rights abuses against him immediately.”

Ramos-Horta and Benedict Rodgers, the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission in the UK, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on March 9 called for international sanctions against the Maldives.

“Options include targeted sanctions, freezing the overseas assets of senior members of the regime and suspending the Maldives from the Commonwealth. Tourists should consider boycotting the Maldives, especially resorts owned by regime cronies,” they wrote.

Australian Senator James McGrath has also described the trial against Nasheed as a “state planned judicial assassination,” saying that President Abdulla Yameen was becoming the “Robert Mugabe of the Indian Ocean.”

Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon has previously condemned international statements of concern, saying: “No foreign power can tell Maldives what to do under President [Abdulla] Yameen.”

“To criticize us in public statements with lies or based with having only heard the opposition’s point of view is not acceptable. The government will not accept these statements and will not pay any attention to them,” Dunya said.

Related to this story

“This is not a court of law. This is injustice,” Nasheed tells the Criminal Court

Global change makers demand a fair trial for Nasheed

Indian Prime Minister Modi cancels Maldives trip

EU, UN join international chorus of concern over Nasheed’s arrest, terrorism trial

Foreign Minister Dunya slams Canada, Commonwealth statements on Nasheed prosecution

10,000 protest in Malé, call for President Yameen’s resignation


Global change makers demand a fair trial for Nasheed

Global change makers have demanded a fair trial for former President Mohamed Nasheed, imprisoned ahead of a terrorism trial over the 2012 military detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

An open letter signed by 31 global activists and film makers, including Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta, called on the international community to use all resources to “pressure the government to free” Nasheed and “desist in all human rights abuses against him immediately.”

Nasheed was arrested on Februrary 22 after Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin alleged the opposition leader may abscond from an unannounced terrorism trial scheduled for the next day.

Nasheed has denied ordering Judge Abdulla’s arrest. If convicted, he faces a jail term or banishment between ten and 15 years.

The letter’s prominent signatories include, environmentalist and co-founder of 350.org Bill McKibben, Robert F. Kennedy Jr, President of Friends of the Earth Erich Pica, and Oscar nominated documentary film maker Robert Stone.

“We firmly believe that international pressure on the regime can help to end the illegal and politically motivated trial against President Nasheed,” read the letter.

The Commonwealth, UN, EU, Canada, India, UK and Australia have expressed concern over Nasheed’s arrest, denial of legal representation, and mistreatment by the police.

Foreign Minister Dhunya Maumoon has previously condemned international statements of concern, saying: “No foreign power can tell Maldives what to do under President [Abdulla] Yameen.”

“To criticize us in public statements with lies or based with having only heard the opposition’s point of view is not acceptable. The government will not accept these statements and will not pay any attention to them,” Dunya said.

Also amongst the signatories are Director of acclaimed documentary “The Island President” Jon Shenk and Producers Dan Cogan, Richard Berge and Bonni Cohen.

Speaking to Huffington Post, Cogan called the proceedings Nasheed “a kangaroo court set up to convict him and it should be very concerning for anyone who believes in the rule of law and democratic government.”

Meanwhile, Former US Vice-President and climate change advocate Al Gore tweeted that the “eyes of the world” are watching Nasheed’s trial and said he must be given a “fair and just trial.”

The government has however claimed it has no influence over Nasheed’s trial, arguing charges were pressed by an independent Prosecutor General. President Yameen taking a stand on Nasheed’s trial amounted to interfering in the judiciary, the government has said.

“Judicial Assassination”

Addressing the Australian Parliament last week, Senator James McGrath described the trial against Nasheed as a “state planned judicial assassination,” and said President Yameen is becoming the “Robert Mugabe of the Indian Ocean.”

“[Nasheed] has been arrested on trumped-up charges, denied legal representation, assaulted by police and faces an unfair trial that will ultimately end in the denial of his  presidential ambitions,” said McGrath.

Mcgrath warned that President Yameen’s administration has “hastened its slide into tyranny,” with police conducting illegal arrests and searches, allegedly planting evidence and breaching constitutionally guaranteed rights.

He further said that the courts have “abrogated their duties under the democratic constitution of the Maldives,” by breaching the separation of powers, denying rights to legal representation and abusing fundamental judicial processes.

“The real purpose behind these actions by the Maldivian state is abundantly clear: to silence all opposition to Yameen’s government,” McGrath claimed.

The Australian senator for Queensland also alleged that the government is “all but refusing help” in the search to find Minivan News Journalist Ahmed Rilwan, who went missing in August last year in what is believed to be an abduction by radicalized gangs.

Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has also dropped the Maldives from an upcoming tour of Indian Ocean neighbours.

The Maldives Foreign Ministry claimed in a statement on Friday that the Prime Minister’s visit “has been postponed to a later date by mutual agreement,” but President’s Office Minister Mohamed Hussain Shareef ‘Mundhu’ told the Associated Press (AP) the Indian government informed the Maldives the visit was cancelled because the “local environment is not conducive.”

Nasheed’s arrest follows the arrest of former Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim on charges of terrorism and treason. Nazim is currently standing trial on charges of importing and possessing illegal weapons after police discovered a pistol and three bullets in his apartment during a midnight raid.

Nazim has accused the police of planting the weapons to frame him. The police have dismissed Nazim’s claims.

Related to this story

Indian Prime Minister Modi cancels Maldives trip

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

EU, UN join international chorus of concern over Nasheed’s arrest, terrorism trial

Former President Nasheed appears in court with arm in makeshift sling

Commonwealth, Canada express concern over denial of legal representation for former President Nasheed


Defense Minister Jaleel granted three days to appoint a lawyer in terrorism trial

The Criminal Court has granted Defense Minister Moosa Ali Jaleel three days to appoint a lawyer and answer terrorism charges for his role in the 2012 military operation to detain Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

Jaleel was the Chief of Defense Forces at the time of Judge Abdulla’s arrest. Following the controversial transfer of power in February 2012, Jaleel was dismissed from his post.

He subsequently signed on to the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives in 2013 and ran in the party’s parliamentary primaries in 2014.

Jaleel was appointed to the Defense Minister’s post after former defense minister Colonel (retired) Mohamed Naizim was arrested and accused of possessing dangerous weapons last month.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed and his former Defense Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu, are also facing the same charges under the terrorism act, and have been given three days to appoint a lawyer at the Criminal Court.

Nasheed’s lawyers have alleged the opposition leader has been denied the right to legal counsel and the right to appeal prior to the court hearing.


Former President Nasheed asks High Court to expedite case concerning Hulhumale’ magistrate court bench

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has asked the High Court to expedite the case filed by his legal team challenging the legitimacy of Hulhumale’ magistrate court’s bench.

Speaking to Minivan News today, former Human Resource Minister Hassan Latheef – a member of Nasheed’s legal team – said that the case has remained stalled at the High Court for over a year now.

“We filed the case at the High Court after we noticed that there were many issues regarding how the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has composed the bench,” Latheef explained.

“For one thing, the JSC does not have to bring selected judges from throughout the country and compose a bench to conduct the trial of a specific individual, that is not the normal procedure.”

The original case filed at the Hulhumale’ court – concerning the military’s controversial detention of Criminal Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012 – needed to be concluded soon because former President Nasheed did not wish to have pending criminal charges, Latheef said.

“But the case at the Hulhumale’ Court can only be continued when the High Court concludes this case we have filed at the High Court,” he noted.

“’When we filed the case at the High Court, on April 1, 2013 the court issued an injunction ordering Hulhumale’ court to halt the trial against Nasheed until the court concluded the case we have filed.”

The case filed by Nasheed’s legal team challenging the legality of the magistrate court bench was stalled after the JSC suspended the former High Court Chief Judge – who was presiding over the case – pending an investigation over a disciplinary matter.

During the hearings held at the High Court, the JSC contended that the High Court did not have jurisdiction to rule on the case as the panel of judges presiding over Nasheed’s trial was appointed based on counsel from the Supreme Court

Nasheed said at the time that he was  “prepared” to justify the reasons for the arrest of Judge Abdulla, and said he was ready to appear in court to defend the decision.

Nasheed also dismissed accusations of the High Court, the Supreme Court and the prosecutor general that he had ordered the military to arrest Judge Abdulla unlawfully.

“I did nothing unlawful during my tenure,” he insisted.

Nasheed also urged the public to attend the trial and witness proceedings, alleging that the case was politically motivated.

Judge Abdulla’s arrest sparked three weeks of anti-government protests in January, leading the Nasheed administration to appeal for international assistance from the Commonwealth and UN to reform the judiciary.


Government will not seek to speed up Nasheed’s trial, says President Yameen

Read this article in Dhivehi

President Abdulla Yameen has said that the current government will not try to push the courts to speed up the trial of former President Mohamed Nasheed, who was charged for “unlawful arrest of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed’’.

Local media did report, however, that Yameen noted the opposition leader must be sentenced if there is rule of law in the country.

Speaking at a ceremony held to open the campaign office of the Progressive Party of Maldives’ Majlis candidate for the Maafannu-West constituency, Yameen noted that there were things the government could to expedite proceedings, but said that the government did not wish to enter the criminal justice procedure.

Yameen also said that international groups had no concerns over this issue or any other other issues such as the delay in appointment of a new prosecutor general (PG) – which has led to a backlog of over 500 cases.

A UN report on the independence of judges last year did make mention of the Nasheed case, noting that it was “difficult to understand why one former President is being tried for an act he took outside of his prerogative, while another [Maumoon Abdul Gayoom] has not had to answer for any of the alleged human rights violations documented over the years.”

In July 2012, Nasheed and Former Defense Minister Tholhath Ibrahim were charged with violating Article 81 of the penal code, which states that the detention of a government employee who has not been found guilty of a crime is illegal.

If found guilty, Nasheed and Tholhath will face a jail sentence or banishment of three years or a fine of MVR3000 (US$193.5).

The case was first filed at the Hulhumalé Magistrate Court before Nasheed’s legal team argued that it did not have jurisdiction to preside over the case, filing a procedural issue at the High Court.

The Judicial Services Commission (JSC) appointed a three member panel consisting of judges Shujau Usman, Abdul Nasir Abdul Raheem, and Hussain Mazeed to hear Nasheed’s procedural issue.

Before the court reached a conclusion on the issue, however, the  JSC suspended Chief Judge in the High Court bench Ahmed Shareef before changing Judge Mazeed and Judge Usman to the Civil Court.

Since this time, no hearings of the case have been conducted or scheduled.

Abdulla Mohamed’s arrest

Abdulla Mohamed was a central figure in the downfall of the former president. He was detained by the military in January 2012 after the government accused him of political bias, obstructing police, stalling cases, having links with organised crime.

The home minister at the time described the judge as “taking the entire criminal justice system in his fist” to protect key figures of the former dictatorship from human rights and corruption cases.

The chief judge was detained after he had opened the court outside normal hours to order the immediate release of the current Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, arrested after the President’s Office requested an investigation into “slanderous” allegations that the administration was working under the influence of “Jews and Christian priests” to weaken Islam in the Maldives.

Prosecutor general (PG) at that time – the recently resigned Ahmed Muizz – joined the High Court and Supreme Court in condemning the MNDF’s role in the arrest, requesting that the judge be released.

The police are required to go through the PG’s Office to obtain an arrest warrant from the High Court, Muizz said, claiming that the MNDF and Nasheed’s administration “haven’t followed the procedures, and the authorities are in breach of law. They could be charged with contempt of the courts.”

Muizz subsequently ordered the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) to investigate the matter.

Judge Abdulla’s arrest sparked three weeks of anti-government protests, while the government appealed for assistance from the Commonwealth and UN with reform of the judiciary.

As protests escalated, elements of the police and military mutinied on February 7, alleging that Nasheed’s orders to arrest the judge had been unlawful. A Commonwealth legal delegation had landed in the capital only days earlier.

Nasheed publicly resigned the same day, later saying he had been as forced to do so “under duress” in a coup d’état. A Commonwealth led investigation would later rule the transfer to have been legal.

Judge Abdulla was released on the evening of February 7, and the Criminal Court swiftly issued a warrant for Nasheed’s arrest. Police did not act on the warrant, however, after mounting international concern.


JSC transfers Judge Adbulla Mohamed from the Criminal Court to the Drug Court

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has today decided to transfer the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed to same position with the Drug Court.

In a tweet today Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Hamza, who is also the member representing the parliament in the JSC, confirmed the decision was made at today’s meeting.

Speaking to Minivan News today Hamza said that the decision was made to strengthen the courts by transferring experienced judges to different courts so that they could share their knowledge and experience with others.

He said about eight judges has been transferred to different courts.

A JSC spokesperson said that he was on vacation and did not have information about the matter.

Newspaper Haveeru reported that a member of the JSC told the paper that Abdulla Mohamed would start work in January next year.

The paper reported that the decision was made as part of a refreshment program.

In January 2012, Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed was arrested by the MNDF in compliance with a police request. The judge’s whereabouts were not revealed until January 18, when the MNDF has acknowledged receipt but not replied to Supreme Court orders to release the judge.

Prosecutor General (PG) Ahmed Muizz soon joined the High Court and Supreme Courts in condemning the MNDF’s role in the arrest as unlawful, and requesting that the judge be released.

A series of protests were held by the then-opposition political parties calling for the release of the judge which ended with a police and military mutiny on February 2012 resulting in President Mohamed Nasheed’s ouster.

In 2005, then Attorney General Dr Hassan Saeed forwarded to the President’s Office concerns about the conduct of Abdulla Mohamed after he allegedly requested that an underage victim of sexual abuse re-enact hear abuse for the court.

In 2009 – following the election of the current government – those documents were sent to the JSC, which was asked to launch an investigation into the outstanding complaints as well as alleged obstruction of “high-profile corruption investigations”.

The JSC decided not to proceed with the investigation on July 30, 2009. However, in November last year, the JSC completed an investigation into a complaint of ethical misconduct against the judge.

The case was presented to the JSC in January 2010 by former President Nasheed’s member of the JSC, Aishath Velezinee, after Abdulla Mohamed appeared on private network DhiTV and expressed “biased political views”.

In October 2011, the ruling MDP appealed for assistance from the international community over the “increasingly blatant collusion between politicians loyal to the former autocratic President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and senior members of the judiciary – most of whom were appointed by Gayoom during his thirty years of power.”

The MDP statement also referred to the corruption trial of Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim, charged with multiple counts of defrauding the former Atolls Ministry, which remains “indefinitely delayed.”


Civil Court upholds JSC’s “indefinite suspension” of High Court Chief Judge

Civil Court ruled yesterday (October 9) that there are no grounds to annul the the Judicial Service Commission’s (JSC) decision to suspend High Court Chief Judge Ahmed Shareef, reports local media.

Shareef filed a lawsuit at the Civil Court for a second time against the JSC on June 20, 2013, challenging his indefinite suspension by the judicial watchdog.

The initial suspension came just hours after the High Court had temporarily halted the hearings of a case lodged by former President Mohamed Nasheed against the JSC.

Nasheed had accused the judicial watch-dog of exceeding its mandate when appointing the three-member judges panel to the Hulhumale Magistrate Court currently hearing a criminal case against him.

According to the JSC Chair Justice Adam Mohamed Abdulla, the suspension of Shareef – amongst the three judges presiding over Nasheed’s case – was a “precautionary” measure while investigation of the complaint was proceeding.

JSC Chair and Supreme Court insisted at the time that the disciplinary action had no relation to the former president’s case.

On June 17, the first case submitted by Shareef – requesting the court issue an injunction halting the suspension – was dismissed by Civil Court Judge Hathif Hilmy after the claimant did not attend the hearing and failed to provide the court with a valid reason for his absence.

The Civil Court ruling stated that Shareef’s suspension did not violate Supreme Court rulings, Article 141 of the constitution, Article 38 of the Judges Act, or the JSC Act according to local media.

Additionally, the court ruling stated that it is not mandatory for the JSC to establish investigation committees in response to complaints, referring to Article 23 (a) of the JSC Act.


A justice system in crisis: UN Special Rapporteur’s report

UN Special Rapporteur for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, has expressed “deep concern” over the failure of the judicial system to address “serious violations of human rights” during the Maldives’ 30 year dictatorship, warning of “more instability and unrest” should this continue to be neglected.

“It is indeed difficult to understand why one former President is being tried for an act he took outside of his prerogative, while another has not had to answer for any of the alleged human rights violations documented over the years,” wrote Knaul, in her final report to the UN Human Rights Council following her Maldives mission in February 2013.

The report is a comprehensive overview of the state of the Maldivian judiciary and its watchdog body, the Judicial Services Commission (JSC). Knaul examines the judiciary’s handling of the trial of former President Nasheed, the controversial reappointment of unqualified judges in 2010, and the politicisation of the JSC.

Knaul also examines parliament’s failure to pass critical pieces of legislation needed for the proper functioning of the judiciary and “legal certainty”, as well as raises serious concerns about an impending budget catastrophe facing the judicial system.

“The immediate implications of the budget cuts on the judiciary are appalling. For instance, the Department of Judicial Administration only has funds to pay staff salaries until November 2013 and it had to cancel training this year,” Knaul notes.

“The Civil Court reported that it would not have sufficient funds to pay its staff salaries after October 2013; furthermore, existing budgetary resources would not be sufficient to pay for utilities and facilities after June 2013,” she adds.

The Nasheed trial

Former President Mohamed Nasheed is currently facing criminal charges in the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court for his detention of the Criminal Court’s Chief Judge, Abdulla Mohamed, days prior to the controversial transfer of power in February 2012.

“Judge Abdulla had allegedly shielded a number of powerful politicians in corruption cases by refusing to issue orders to investigate, and many complaints had been made regarding his conduct and supposed lack of ethics,” Knaul outlined.

“The Judicial Service Commission had completed an investigation on him in November 2011, holding him guilty of misconduct. This decision was appealed to the Civil Court, which ordered that the Judicial Service Commission’s complaint procedure be suspended.

“Although the Commission appealed the Civil Court’s ruling, Judge Abdulla was allowed to continue in his functions,” she added.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) maintain the case against Nasheed is a politically-motivated attempt to convict and bar him from the September 7 presidential elections, while the new government has emphasised the judiciary’s independence and insisted on its policy of non-interference.

Following Knaul’s visit and her departure statement, several members of the JSC have also challenged the commission’s creation of the Hulhumale’ Court, and its appointment of the bench. The commission includes several of Nasheed’s direct political rivals, including a rival presidential candidate, resort tycoon, Jumhoree Party (JP) Leader and MP Gasim Ibrahim.

“The trial of the former President raises serious concerns regarding the fairness of proceedings,” Knaul notes, questioning the constitutionality of the Hulhumale’ Court and the appointment of the three-member panel of judges, “which seems to have been set up in an arbitrary manner, without following procedures set by law.”

“According to the law, the Prosecutor General’s office should have filed the case of Mr Nasheed with the Criminal Court. While the concerns of the Prosecutor General’s office regarding the evident conflict of interests in this case are understandable, since Judge Abdulla sits in this court, it is not for the Prosecutor to decide if a judge is impartial or not,” stated Knaul.

“The Prosecutor should act according to the law when filing a case, as it is the duty of judges to recuse themselves if they cannot be impartial in a particular case,” she explained.

“All allegations of unfair trial and lack of due process in Mr Nasheed’s case need to be promptly investigated, including the claims that the trial is being sped up to prevent Mr Nasheed’s participation in the 2013 elections,” she added.

Knaul noted a decision by the Supreme Court to declare the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court as legitimate after the Commission filed a case with it in 2012.

“The Special Rapporteur was informed that the judge of the Supreme Court who cast the deciding vote in this case also sits as a member of the Judicial Services Commission, whose decision to establish the Hulhumalé court as a magistrates court was under review,” the report noted.

Politicisation of the JSC

Knaul observed that the JSC had a “complicated” relationship with the judiciary, given that the commission “considers that it has exclusive jurisdiction over all complaints against judges, including over criminal allegations, while the Prosecutor General understands that the criminal investigation agencies have the competence to investigate criminal conducts by anyone.”

Knaul underlined that “judges and magistrates, as well as other actors of the justice system, are criminally accountable for their actions. Criminal actions entail consequences and penalties that are different from those resulting from disciplinary or administrative investigations.”

The special rapporteur stated that there was near unanimous consensus during her visit that the composition of the JSC – which draws members from sources outside the judiciary, such as parliament, the civil service commission and others – was “inadequate and politicised”. This complaint was first highlighted in a report by the International Committee of Jurists (ICJ) in 2010.

“Because of this politicisation, the commission has allegedly been subjected to all sorts of external influence and has consequently been unable to function properly,” said Knaul.

State of the courts

Conflicts of interest and the resulting impact on judges’ impartiality was also a concern, noted Knaul.

“It seems that judges, and other actors of the State, do not want to fully acknowledge and understand this concept, leading to the dangerous perception from the public that the justice system is politicised and even corrupted,” she said.

Knaul also expressed “shock to hear that many members of the judiciary, including in the Supreme Court, hold memberships in political parties.”

The Supreme Court, she noted, has meanwhile been “deciding on the constitutionality of laws ex-officio, without following appropriate examination procedures, under the understanding that they are the supreme authority for the interpretation of the Constitution.”

The relationship between prosecutors and the judiciary was also difficult, Knaul noted, expressing “serious concern” that some courts “use the threat of contempt of court and disbarment to impose their decisions and superiority over prosecutors.”

“The lack of a centralised case-management system does not facilitate their tasks either. In some places, such as Addu City, one prosecutor covers four courts and is often called to different hearings at the same time,” she observed.

“Symbolic” reappointment of judges

Two months prior to the end of the constitution’s transitional period and the deadline for the appointment of new judges according to moral and professional criteria – article 285 – the interim Supreme Court informed President Nasheed “that all its members would permanently remain on the bench.”

This action, Knaul noted, had “no legal or constitutional basis.”

“The five judges who had been sitting on the transitional bench were appointed to the seven-member permanent bench, leaving many with the perception that the Supreme Court was appointed in a politicised manner,” she noted.

The rest of the courts followed suit several months later at the conclusion of the interim period, with the Commission “opting for interpreting article 285 of the Constitution in a rather symbolic way and [not scrutinising] judges’ qualifications thoroughly.”

“For instance,” Knaul noted, “not all criminal allegations pending against judges were investigated. This resulted in a seemingly rushed reappointment of all sitting judges but six, which in the opinion of many interlocutors corrupted the spirit of the constitutional transitional provision.”

While the 2008 Constitution had “completely overturned the structure of the judiciary”, at the conclusion of the JSC’s work on article 285, “the same people who were in place and in charge, conditioned under a system of patronage, remained in their positions.”

As a result, “many believe that some judges who are currently sitting lack the proper education and training […] A simple judicial certificate, obtained through part-time studies, is the only educational requirement to become a judge.”

Way forward

Knaul’s report contains four pages of recommendations for judicial reform, starting with a “constitutional review” of the composition of the Judicial Services Commission – the same conclusion reached by the ICJ in 2010.

“The Maldives finds itself at a difficult crossroad, where the democratic transition is being tested, while remnants of its authoritarian past are still hovering,” Knaul observed, stating that the power struggle she witnessed during her visit had “serious implications on the effective realisation of the rule of law in the Maldives.”

Among many other recommendations, Knaul called on the government to show “strong and nonpartisan leadership”, by pushing for “constructive dialogue aimed at establishing clear priorities for the country, the adoption of necessary core legislation, and policy measures to consolidate the democracy. Such leadership should be guided by the Maldives’ obligations under international human rights law, which provide for a sound and sustainable foundation for democracy.”

She also noted that “the delicate issue of accountability for past human rights violations also needs to be addressed.”

Read the full report


Former Home Minister summoned for questioning by police and HRCM over detention of Chief Judge

The former Home Minister Hassan Afeef was yesterday summoned to the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) to the police for questioning over the arrest of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

Speaking to the press outside the police headquarters, Afeef said he had no role in the arrest of Abdulla and that he had only requested the military to arrest him after police had asked him to make the request.

Afeef said it was the police that informed the Home Ministry that there were issues concerning the national security of the Maldives if Abdulla was to remain at large.

He said that in a letter he sent to the Defence Ministry on behalf of the Home Ministry, issues concerning the national security of the country were outlined very clearly.

He declined to provide details on the arrest of Abdulla because they concerned the national security of the country, he said.

When Minivan News contacted Afeef for a comment he said what he told last night outside the police headquarters was all he could say regarding the issue.

A police spokesperson today told Minivan News that police asked Hassan Afeef to come to the police headquarters at 9:30pm last night.

‘’He came on time and we questioned him about the arrest of Judge Abdulla Mohamed,’’ he said. ‘’He answered all the questions very well.’’

Yesterday afternoon Afeef was summoned to HRCM for questioning over the arrest of Judge Abdulla.

Afeef met the press outside the HRCM and said the commission faced him a lot of questions and that he answered all the questions fully and declined to provide details of the questions.

Recently Former government’s Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim and former President Mohamed Nasheed were summoned to the HRCM.

Tholhath was also summoned to the police headquarters, however, he used the right to remain silent.

Judge Abdulla Mohamed was arrested by the Defence Force in compliance with a police request.

However, the protests sparked in Male’ following the arrest and lasted until the resignation of the former president.

The opposition-led protests in the run up to Nasheed’s resignation initial called for the release of the Criminal Court Judge.

The first complaints against Abdulla Mohamed were filed in July 2005 by then Attorney General Dr Hassan Saeed, and included allegations of misogyny, sexual deviancy, and throwing out an assault case despite the confession of the accused.

The Judicial Services Commission (JSC), the judicial watchdog, eventually formed a complaints committee to investigate the cases against Judge Abdulla in December 2009, which met 44 times but had failed to present a single report as of March 2011.

The JSC eventually concluded an investigation into politically-contentious comments made by Judge Abdulla Mohamed on DhiTV, but the report was never released after the judge sought a Civil Court injunction against his further investigation in September 2011.

Then-Home Minister Hassan Afeef subsequently accused the judge of “taking the entire criminal justice system in his fist”, listing 14 cases of obstruction of police duty including withholding warrants for up to four days, ordering police to conduct unlawful investigations and disregarding decisions by higher courts.

Afeef accused the judge of “deliberately” holding up cases involving opposition figures, barring media from corruption trials, ordering the release of suspects detained for serious crimes “without a single hearing”, and maintaining “suspicious ties” with family members of convicts sentenced for dangerous crimes.

The judge also released a murder suspect “in the name of holding ministers accountable”, who went on to kill another victim.

Then Vice President of the Maldives Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan opposed the judge’s detention, stating on his blog that “I am ashamed and totally devastated by the fact that this is happening in a government in which I am the elected Vice President.”

Nasheed’s government requested assistance from the international community to reform the judiciary. Observing that judicial reform “really should come from the Judicial Services Commission (JSC)”, then Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem said the commission’s shortcoming are “now an issue of national security.”