Civil Court declares former police intelligence director’s arrest unlawful

The Civil Court has declared the Maldives Police Services’ arrest of former Director of Police Intelligence Sabra Noordeen on 16 March 2013 unlawful, unwarranted, and an ‘abuse of power’.

The court has also ordered the police to erase the record of the arrest and to issue a written apology.

Speaking to Minivan News today, Sabra said she had filed the case “because I wanted to set a legal precedent which would make the Police think about the wider rights and responsibilities they have to uphold before they exercise their powers.”

The police arrested Sabra upon her arrival at Malé International Airport on 16 March 2013 on the charge of “inciting violence” against a police officer on 5 March 2013 during the arrest of President Mohamed Nasheed. The police also confiscated her passport.

She was then handcuffed in order to be transferred to Dhoonidhoo prison. However, the police took her to Malé instead, and released her after issuing a summons to appear at the police station at a later date for questioning.

Sabra first appealed the Criminal Court warrant at the High Court and asked for compensation for damages. In August 2013, the High Court ruled the warrant valid, but said that Sabra should seek compensation at the Civil Court.

In yesterday’s verdict, the Civil Court noted the Criminal Court had not ordered the police to arrest Sabra, but had provided a warrant authorising her arrest upon the police’s request.

The court said she could only be arrested under such a warrant if there was “a necessity for her arrest”,  and if such a necessity ceases to exist, she should not be arrested “even if the warrant has not expired”.

The Civil Court noted that the High Court judges had deemed Sabra’s quick release on the day of her arrest to have been an indication of the lack of necessity for her arrest.

The Civil Court has also warned that the police’s abuse of power defeats the purpose for which the institution was founded, and would create doubt and fear about the the institution.

The verdict declared that Sabra’s arrest violated her right to protect her reputation and good name as guaranteed by Article 33 of the constitution, and the right to fair administrative action guaranteed by Article 43. The court also found that the police had acted against their primary objectives underlined in Article 244.

Following her arrest in March 2013, Sabra called for police reform in order for the institution to regain public confidence – including the dissolution of Special Operations unit and holding police officers accountable for misconduct and brutality.

“I quit the Maldives Police Service on 8 February 2012 with a profound sense of sadness for the institution and the colleagues I left behind. I do not believe that everyone in the MPS was involved in the mutiny or the coup and I do not believe in blaming everyone in a police uniform,” she wrote in an article detailing the events of her arrest.

Previously, the Criminal Court had declared the police’s arrest of incumbent Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and the arrest of Ghassaan Maumoon, son of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, as unlawful.

In 2010, the Civil Court also declared the Maldives National Defense Force’s “protective custody” of current President Abdulla Yameen as unconstitutional, while the Supreme Court ordered the immediate release of both Yameen and Gasim Ibrahim (both members of parliament at the time).

Accusations of brutality and misconduct by MPS officers are common and have been confirmed by various independent state institutions. Among them are the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) that looked in to the controversial power transfer of February 2012 and two constitutionally prescribed independent institutions – the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives and the Police Integrity Commission.


Commonwealth-backed report a “whitewash”: former president

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has branded the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) report a “whitewash”, claiming it purposefully excluded testimonies from key police and military figures concerning last year’s transfer of power.

The CNI report, which was published back in August last year, concluded there had been no coup, no duress and no mutiny during the controversial transfer of power that saw President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik sworn into office. The findings were also welcomed at the time by the US State Department and the United Nations.

Nasheed alleged that despite the CNI report’s conclusions, a recent parliamentary inquiry had heard evidence from senior police and military figures that was omitted from the commission’s findings and supported allegations of a coup.

The comments were made following a recent visit by the Commonwealth Secretary General’s Special Envoy to the Maldives, Sir Don McKinnon. McKinnon, whose visit concluded yesterday (January 27), was in the country to discuss progress to “strengthen democratic institutions” in line with recommendations in the CNI report.

The Commonwealth Secretariat today said it would not be issuing a statement or making any comments on McKinnon’s visit at the present time.

Nasheed, who declined to meet with McKinnon during his visit, has expressed strong criticism of the investigation conducted by the CNI.

“The CNI report was a whitewash. It wilfully excluded testimony of police and army leaders – the very people best placed to ascertain whether the transfer of power was legal or not,” he stated.

The former president also slammed the government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik, claiming it had taken no action against police and military officers for alleged human rights abuses during the transfer of power, or towards correcting issues with the country’s judiciary raised in the CNI’s conclusions.

In the same statement, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mariya Didi condemned the Commonwealth-backed report for empowering and legitimising President Waheed’s government, which she accused of lacking a democratic mandate.

“The CNI report was to empower and embolden an illegitimate regime, which is now pressing charges against President Nasheed in the hope of disqualifying his candidature in the upcoming presidential elections. Uncertainties created by these politically motivated charges have skewed the election landscape and allowed campaign momentum for marginal political groups led by former international civil servants, feudal entrepreneurs and religious extremists that clearly do not have electoral support,” she claimed.

“Having stolen one presidency, the regime intends to rig the vote for another. This situation has grave consequences for the future of our democracy,” Mariya added.

“Cover-up” allegations

On Saturday (January 26), the MDP accused the Commonwealth Secretariat of being complicit in a “systematic government cover-up designed to subdue testimonies from key witnesses to the coup d’etat”.

MDP Spokesperson MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said at the time that respective accounts from the CNI and the UN concerning the transfer of power on February 7 were “not reflective of the experiences of Maldivians who witnessed and lived through the event both out on the streets and through their TV screens”.

“The letters sent to the government [concerning the transfer of power] represented a real shoddy job by these organisations. It is clear they did not do their homework. It is embarrassing,” Ghafoor said.

President’s Office Spokesperson Ahmed ‘Topy’ Thaufeeq meanwhile told Minivan News last week that the CNI report was a “transparent” process undertaken by “qualified Maldivian people”.

“Because of this, the CNI report is accepted by the government. We have a judiciary, if anyone has a problem with this affair they can go to the courts themselves,” he claimed.


CoNI coup cover-up concerns fuel anti-government demonstrations: MDP

Evidence presented to parliament by former security officials concerning February 2012’s controversial transfer of power has given renewed impetus to anti-government demonstrations in Male’ this week, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has said.

Minivan News yesterday (January 26) observed several thousand people taking part in an MDP demonstration around Male’, calling for a caretaker government to be installed ahead of fresh elections. The party continues to allege the transfer of power was a “coup”, with Nasheed being forced from office under duress.

The MDP claimed more than 4000 people took part in yesterday’s gathering as part of efforts to communicate its concerns about the legitimacy of the present government to both the local and international community.

MDP MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor added a petition had also been presented at the People’s Majlis by the protesters, though only the party’s elected representatives were allowed admission to parliament.

“Protesters were not being allowed into the Majlis, so our MPs had to present the petition,” Ghafoor said.

The government-aligned Adhaalath Party alleged the MDP protesters verbally abused its supporters and vandalised promotional materials at a membership drive held at a school.

President Dr Mohamed Waheed has meanwhile called for government personnel and institutions “to be vigilant of a system that would ensure a just, fair and equitable governance in the Maldives.”

During his speech – made during a tour of Miladhummadulu Atoll – President Waheed claimed that good governance could only be achieved through listening to the demands of the public.

Renewed impetus

Ghafoor claimed the party’s protests had been given renewed impetus after senior military and police intelligence figures recently gave evidence to the Majlis’ Executive Oversight Committee (EOC) alleging that the transfer of power on February 7 “had all the hallmarks of a coup d’etat”.

“Several of these figures including chief of staff and military heads have confirmed what we all knew. They have all said [former President Nasheed] resigned under duress,” he added.

Ghafoor alleged this same information had purposefully not been included in the final report of the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) that last year concluded there was no mutiny by police or the military.

The CNI also ruled that former President Mohamed Nasheed’s resignation was not made under duress, but did highlight a need for reforms in key institutions like the judiciary and security forces.

Protests by the party this week are the first large-scale demonstrations through the city since the Freedom of Assembly Bill was ratified by President Waheed earlier this month, imposing a stringent limitations on street protesting.

Adhaalath Party member drive

The government-aligned, religious conservative Adhaalath Party alleged that people participating in yesterday’s MDP protest yelled obscenities at its members during a membership drive being held at Ghiyasuddeen School in Male’.

The party also claimed MDP protesters ripped up the party’s banners at the school that were temporarily put up as part of the membership drive.

Responding to the allegations, MP Ghafoor claimed that while the MDP did not encourage such behaviour towards government-aligned parties, he said he would not be surprised if some supporters had ripped up banners during the protest.

“These allegations are beyond belief. [The Adhaalath Party] has blatantly been involved in a coup against a democratically elected government. There is no love lost between our parties and we do not believe they are even a religious party,” he claimed. “All we see from them is xenophobia and nothing else.”

Ghafoor contended that protesters tearing down a few posters should be seen as a very minor issue compared to wider issues taking place in the country.

“Ripping up a banner is nothing. People do not respect [the Adhaalath Party].  When our supporters walk past police headquarters and yell out ‘baagee’ (traitor) at them, the Adhaalath Party are no different as far as we are concerned,” he said.

Ghafoor added that after the MDP planned to hold demonstrations every Friday to try and ensure maximum turnout from its supporters in the capital.

UK Foreign Office to “pressure” Maldives over tackling police abuse allegations: The Guardian

UK Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Alistair Burt is expected to “pressure” the Maldives government to tackle alleged abuses conducted by police during a visit to the country next month.

The UK-based Guardian newspaper reported today that Burt would be asking the government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan about efforts being undertaken to tackle “serious and persistent abuses” alleged to have been carried out by police – claims backed in reports on the country by a number of international NGOs.

These alleged abuses are reported to include: “attacks on opposition MPs, torture and mass detentions of democracy activists,” according to the paper.

President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad and Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed were not responding to calls from Minivan News at the time of press concerning the upcoming UK FCO visit.

However, the government and police authorities in the Maldives have previously questioned findings by a number of international NGOs, accusing their individual authors of acting with bias in favour of former President Nasheed and the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

Police probe

Reports of Burt’s visit follow The Guardian reporting earlier this week that senior UK government figures were set to be questioned by politicians over the role of a Scottish police college in training Maldivian officers accused of perpetrating human rights abuses.

Police authorities in the Maldives contacted by Minivan News yesterday played down the abuse allegations raised by a number of NGOs such as Amnesty International, questioning possible bias in the data gathered in their reports.

Just last month, the circumstances behind the arrests of then Jumhoree Party (JP) MP Abdulla Jabir and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor for their alleged possession of alcohol had been labelled “very worrying” by delegates from the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

The comments were made following a a three-day mission to the Maldives over alleged human rights abuses.

Philippine Senator Francis Pangilinan from IPU’s Committee on Human Rights of Parliamentarians said at the time that circumstances surrounding the arrests of Jabir – now an MDP MP – and Ghafoor were concerning and that the delegation found it “difficult” to believe it was not politically-motivated.

Both Jabir and Ghafoor – along with eight others – were arrested on the island of Hodaidhoo in Haa Dhaal Atoll for the alleged possession of alcohol and drugs.

The arrests were made days prior to a vote on whether or not a no confidence motion against President Mohamed Waheed could be voted with a secret ballot.

Transfer of power

Since February’s controversial transfer of power that saw former President Mohamed Nasheed resigning from office follow a mutiny by sections of the country’s police and military – a decision he claimed was made under duress – several NGOs have published reports addressing concerns about police conduct in the Maldives.

Minivan News observed violent clashes between police officers and anti-government protesters directly following the change of government. On February 8, Minivan News journalists witnessed Specialist Operations (SO) officers specifically target certain MDP activists by chasing and beating them.

Anti-government protests have continued on and off throughout 2012 resulting in both local and international media coverage of alleged police brutalityattacks by protesters on police and reporters, numerous arrests and the occasional, almost playful stand-off.

Amidst this backdrop, several NGOs have released reports into alleged rights abuses conducted by police.  These reports include findings by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) entitled “From Sunrise to Sunset: Maldives backtracking on democracy” and an Amnesty International publication entitled: “The Other side of Paradise: A Human Rights Crisis in the Maldives”.

FIDH noted in its findings that the government of President Waheed stood accused of a wide range of human right violations, including violent harassment of street protesters, torture and harassment of pro-opposition media as well as legal and physical harassment of the opposition.

“Practices to silence political dissent that had disappeared in the course of Nasheed’s presidency, have once again become prevalent under Mohamed Waheed’s presidency,” said FIDH at the time.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International’s report recommended that the Maldivian government “ensure prompt, independent, impartial and effective investigations into allegations of violence by officials.”

The NGO also called for the de-politicisation of the police, reform of the judiciary and enhanced training of security forces to meet with international standards of conduct.

Amnesty said that several of its human rights recommendations were reflected in the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry’s (CNI) report which was released on August 30. The report concluded that President Waheed’s government had come to power legitimately and that there no evidence of any mutiny by the police and military.

Following the report’s publication, two international advisors to the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) – Judicial Advisor Sir Bruce Robertson and Legal Advisor Professor John Packer – criticised what they believed was an “alarming level” of street demonstrating.

“Some would want to call [this] an example of the rights of freedom of expression and assembly. In reality it is rather more bully-boy tactics involving actual and threatened intimidation by a violent mob,” they stated at the time. “This perpetual behaviour is sapping public life and hindering the Maldives’ development as a modern democracy.”

However, the CNI’s findings did nonetheless highlight the need for institutional reform within the country focusing on areas such as law enforcement and the judiciary.

Earlier this month, the Commonwealth announced it would be working with the Maldivian government to push ahead with strengthening and reforming “key public institutions” – issues raised in the CNI report.  The Commonwealth also said that it was reiterating calls for “inclusive and credible” presidential elections to be held next year.

Report “bias”

Following the publication of Amnesty’s report in September, Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed criticised Amnesty International for failing to seek comment from the government, accusing it of publishing a one-sided report.

Similar criticisms of the NGO were made by Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz back in April.  He expressed disappointed with what he perceived had been Amnesty’s failure to ask the police for its comments before releasing a report based on its findings.

“I don’t see that there has been any investigations done, none of our officers was questioned, interviewed – neither by them nor by the Police Integrity Commission (PIC), nor by the Human Rights Commission (HRCM). I don’t think that’s fair,” said Riyaz.

Amnesty International had previously denied it has taken sides compiling its report on the Maldives.


Commonwealth committed to institutional reform, “credible elections” in the Maldives

The Commonwealth has said it will be working with the Maldivian government to push ahead with strengthening and reforming “key public institutions” as it reiterates calls for “inclusive and credible” presidential elections to be held next year.

In a statement issued Friday (December 7), Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma said the intergovernmental organisation would continue to work with international partners and Maldivian authorities on a programme of reform and “practical collaboration”.

Over the last twelve months, the Commonwealth has played a key role in terms of the international community’s stance towards the Maldives, particularly following the controversial transfer of power in February in which the present government came to office.

Following allegations by the now opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) that President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan came to power in a “coup d’etat”, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) applied pressure for a reformed Committee of National Inquiry (CNI) to investigate the details behind the change of government.

The CNI’s findings, welcomed by the Commonwealth, US and the UN, rejected accusations that the present government came to power illegally, despite claims from former president Mohamed Nasheed that the report’s conclusions were flawed and failed to include key witness statements and evidence.

The opposition MDP has previously said it holds severe structural concerns about the CNI’s conclusions, but accepted the report had provided a “way forward” to push for institutional reform in areas such as defence and the judiciary.


Following a teleconference held Thursday (December 6) with Maldives Foreign Minister Dr Abdul Samad Abdullah, Commonwealth Secretary General Sharma issued a statement welcoming government assurances that the CNI’s recommendations would be “advanced meaningfully”.

“It continues to be important that there is even-handed implementation of all the recommendations in the Report of the Commission of National Inquiry, including investigations into allegations of police brutality and acts of intimidation,” stated Sharma.

The secretary general also used the statement to emphasize hopes that presidential elections – anticipated to be held during 2013 – would be conducted on a “a level-playing field for all political parties and actors”.

The Commonwealth said it appreciated commitments made by Foreign Minister Dr Samad to this end.

President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad was not responding to calls from Minivan News at the time of press over detailing the types of reform the government was said to have committed to following Thursday’s teleconference.


Police Integrity Commission Chair resigns citing institution’s failure to hold police accountable

Former head of the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) Shahinda Ismail has resigned from the Commission claiming “major difference of opinion” with other the reasons behind her decision to resign from the institution yesterday.

“For me, the commission is not heading in the right direction – when you look at the commission’s work of late, I didn’t feel it was working towards objectives stated in police act,” she said.

Article 19 of the Police Act charges the PIC with promoting police officer’s respect for law, to independently investigate any unlawful activities, and to enhance trust and confidence in the police.

“I don’t believe that sitting there would enable me to do anything good for this country,” said Shahindha, who questioned whether any of the country’s public institutions were helping the people of the Maldives.

“If police are allowed to act like this – there will never be an end to this,” said Shahindha who expressed her concern that repeated excuses made on behalf of the police will not bring an end to brutality or the abuse of power.

“What I’ve seen in the actions of institutions is that they have been giving a lot of space for the police to act with impunity.”

Shahindha’s resignation comes just days after the release of the second of three reports looking into incidents of police misconduct that surrounded February’s transfer of presidential power.

The recent report into instances of police brutality during the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) February 8 protests, included an addendum with Shahindha’s opinions after she was unable to agree with the conclusions of her fellow commission members.

The main point of disagreement emerged over the legality of the police’s breaking up of the protests, and the extent to which senior officers should be culpable for the ensuing violence.

Shahindha stated in the report that she saw acts of police on February 8 to have been against the law, and that she observed no valid reason for police to have broken up the MDP demonstrations in the manner they did.

She also stated that the Assistant Commissioner of Police Abdulla Fairoosh and then Acting Head of Police Specialist Operations Department Ahmed Shameem must be held responsible for not having carried out the responsibilities of their posts in a sufficient manner.

The remainder of the committee said that the police acted within the contours of the law and that acts of brutality were the sole responsibility of individual officers.

Shahindha stated that she could not understand the reason for these differences of opinion as she had no access to any information that was not seen by the other commission members.

“I really wouldn’t accuse anyone of any political activity or anything specific. People just don’t see things the way I see them,” she said.

The PIC’s Vice Chair Abdullah Waheed was unavailable for comment when called today. Waheed requested to be called back but was not responding to further calls at the time of press.

Waheed told Haveeru today that he believed Shahindha’s resignation was due to her husband’s departure to study in the UK.

“Since middle of July, Shahindha kept saying that she would leave the Commission as her husband was leaving abroad… So her statement to the media that she was resigning due to divergence of opinion comes as a real surprise,” said Waheed.

Shahindha’s husband, Hussein Shameem, confirmed to Minivan News that he had left his post as Deputy Prosecutor General in order to pursue further education in the United Kingdom.

Asked about the timing of her resignation, Shahindha said that she felt a strong responsibility to continue on the commission, despite ongoing problems.

“I waited mainly because this is the most important event ever involving the police. I was there when the incident took place. I played a vital role – I believed it was my responsibility,” she said.

Although she acknowledged problems with the commission before February 7, Shahindha described a more stark change in the atmosphere since February.

“The commission is in dire need of capacity building and I hope the state can provide necessary funding in order for the PIC to bring out sound conclusions. It needs capacity building in terms of its investigations,” she said.

Shahindha had previously expressed her scepticism over the ability of the PIC to handle the magnitude of the investigations following the release of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) report.

Despite finding that February’s transfer of power fell within constitutional limits, the report did acknowledge acts of police brutality and called for “assistance and encouragement” of institutions such as the PIC in order to increase “effectiveness and general performance.”

Shahindha stated that the Home Minister, who announced that the PIC would be tasked with investigating the abuses, was empowered to ignore PIC recommendations and had already done so.

Commenting on the arrest of former President Mohamed Nasheed this morning, Shahindha questioned the prioritisation of his case when cases of murder, rape and child abuse awaited trial.

Former Chairman of the MDP Ibrahim ‘Ibra’ Ismail has raised the same issue in a recent blog post, pointing out that there are currently over 2000 cases awaiting prosecution.


11,528 ‘concerned Maldivians’ asked CMAG for justice prior to Friday’s meeting

At Friday’s meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) a petition was presented to the group’s ministers said to be representing “a group of concerned Maldivians” unaffiliated to any one political party.

The petition was signed by 11,528 Maldivians between September 18-24, who called upon CMAG to provide them with justice.

“The events of 6-7 February have however dashed all the hopes of the people that henceforth governments will change by free and fair elections,” read the letter.

“We are very disappointed…that the Commission of Inquiry found the transfer of power legal, and warranted to reinstate the power of the former dictatorship, which was ousted in the first democratic elections of 2008,” it continued.

“We plead that if Ministers are not in a position now to give us justice, at least to refrain from delivering us injustice. We hope that Ministers will give careful consideration to the reservations that have been expressed about the methods of work by the Commission.”

“We hope Ministers will not abandon the people of Maldives, and be with us until the genuine voice of the people are heard in a free and fair election,” it said.

The eventual outcome of the CMAG meeting saw the Maldives’ suspension from the group lifted, whilst it still remains on the group’s ‘matters of interest’.


‘Small justice served to small states’: Waheed speaks at UN

“Small justice is being served for a small state,” President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan has said during the meeting of the 67th UN General Assembly.

“It is regrettable, but true, that some powerful international actors have come out in public and instructed the Maldives to take certain measures contradictory to our laws,” he said.

The President’s speech came during a high level meeting designed to reaffirm global commitment to the rule of law in order to further the UN’s goals of international peace, human rights, and development.

“We believe that the story of the Maldives needs to be told. It is a lesson to be learnt by other small states. The application of the rule of law is to protect the smaller and the weaker; to prevent small justice being served to small states,” said the President.

“The world’s small states cannot afford to be complacent. Our experience in dealing with the powerful international actors in the past few months has not been pleasant. If we do not stand up, and draw your attention to the injustices, the next could be one of you,” Waheed said.

A draft declaration agreed upon at the meeting included the recognition that the rule of law applies to all states equally.

Referring to the requests received from the international community during this year’s political turmoil in the Maldives, Waheed said that “powerful international actors” had instructed the Maldives to take certain measures contradictory to its laws.

“We were asked bring to an end a Presidential term and hold elections even if they were not allowed under the Constitution. We were asked in no uncertain terms to abide by such instructions even if it meant amending the Constitution,” Waheed told the meeting.

“We are being asked to withdraw certain criminal cases filed by independent state bodies for crimes as serious as the armed forces abducting and keeping in isolation, a serving judge. We were told to take these measures for the good of the country,” he continued.

The most notable group’s calling for early elections following the controversial resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed in February came from the European Union (EU) and the Commonwealth.

“When we questioned these instructions, the Maldives was labelled as an uncooperative State, casting doubt on the country’s democratic credentials. We were placed on an international watch-list, without due process,” said Waheed.

Commonwealth experience

Waheed’s visit to New York will also see him attend the Commonwealth’s Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) meeting which is scheduled to deliberate upon whether the Maldives will be kept on its investigative agenda.

The government has persistently questioned CMAG’s ability to place the country on this list of nations – reserved for those suspected of violating the Commonwealth’s core values.

Following last month’s Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) report, which appeared to have absolved the current administration of being involved in what had been termed by many a coup, the government has again strongly urged its removal from the agenda.

The composition of the CNI itself was amended after pressure from the Commonwealth.

Waheed’s speech reiterated arguments made in a government statement sent to CMAG earlier this month.

“These are clearly punitive measures against a country whose economy is dependent on its image. The labelling has resulted the Maldives losing significant investments, external loan financing, and foreign tourist arrivals into the country,” he said.

“This has also encouraged domestic unrest. It has choked the country’s governance system and crippled our infant democracy,” Waheed added.

The Maldives’ tourist industry figures show that growth has continued this year, with arrivals increasing by 2.9 percent up to August compared with the previous year.

However, 2012’s year on year growth has slowed significantly when compared with last year’s rate of 18 percent at the same point.

China, whose growing tourists to the Maldives offset falling arrivals from Europe, agreed a package of concessional loans and aid worth US$500million earlier this month.

Concerns over investor confidence in the country have become focused on the airport development deal with Indian company GMR – the largest in the nation’s history. Pro-government political parties have repeatedly called for the airport’s nationalisation.

Significant investment in the renewable energies sector was also said to have been lost this year as a result of the country’s political instability.

“As one of the smallest countries in the world, there is very little we could do politically to counter the pounding that we are subjected to by some international partners. We lack the political and economic might of the larger states to counter the weight of these international players. There is no recourse available for small states like the Maldives. We were not given a fair hearing, or the benefit of doubt,” Waheed said.

“We do recognise that international organisations play a valuable and indispensable role in promoting the rule of law. Small states, like the Maldives, value our membership of international organisations. We depend on them to advance our interests and values. We expect them to work with us in promoting the rule of law.”

International Spokesman for Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Hamed Abdul Ghafoor described the speech as a “sob story”.

“CMAG is saying that there are severe structural deficiencies in the country’s democratic institutions. Waheed has taken advantage of this,” said Ghafoor.


President Waheed meets UN Secretary General

President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan yesterday met with Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon in New York.

“Today I met with UNSG Ban Ki-moon,” read the President’s official Twitter feed. “Now that transfer of power is proven legitimate, he said it is time to move ahead with the nation.”

Waheed is in New York to address the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) which opened last Tuesday.

“I will focus my address on the present treatment of smaller nations and special efforts to maintain independence and sovereignty of such nations. I will also touch on the way Maldives was treated by some of the larger countries,” he told Haveeru before his departure.

He is also reported to be attending the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) meeting which meets annually in the wings of the UNGA.

After the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) conferred legitimacy on February’s transfer of power, the government has urged CMAG to remove the Maldives from its investigative agenda.

Opposition politicians, including former President Mohamed Nasheed, have argued that CMAG’s revised mandate warrants keeping the country on the agenda.

CMAG are scheduled to discuss the issue on September 28.