India, UK politicians continue to voice concern over Nasheed’s imprisonment

Politicians from the United Kingdom and India this week continued to voice concerns over former President Mohamed Nasheed’s 13 year jail term for terrorism offences.

“We have a number of serious concerns about increasing political tensions in the Maldives and the arrest of former President Nasheed,” Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Hugo Swire told parliament this week.

Meanwhile, Indian diplomats have called the trial a foregone conclusion, while the French government has added its voice to growing international concern over the trial.

On March 16, UK Conservative Party MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown questioned Swire about discussions held with Maldives foreign minister Dunya Maumoon regarding Nasheed’s rushed trial.

In response, Swire said the trial was not conducted in “accordance with due legal procedure.”

“Despite 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 nor in accordance with due legal process,” he added.

Last week, Lord Alton of Liverpool asked the UK government for its assessment of the Criminal Court’s decision to deny Nasheed rights of appeal in relation to his initial arrest, and asked what discussions had taken place with the Commonwealth over the rule of law in the Maldives.

Conservative peer Baroness Joyce Anelay referred to Swire’s statements expressing concern over irregularities in Nasheed’s trial, saying the UK continues to monitor the situation closely.

“It is important for international confidence in Maldives that Mr Nasheed, like all other citizens, is seen to be enjoying due legal process and respect for his fundamental rights,” she said.

International concern grows

Nasheed was charged with terrorism over the military’s detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012. The Criminal Court’s refusal to allow Nasheed legal counsel, adequate time to prepare defence, or to hear defence witnesses has caused international concern.

The United States, United Kingdom, and the European Union expressed concern with the lack of due process, while Amnesty International has said Nasheed’s conviction “after a deeply flawed and politically motivated trial is a travesty of justice.”

The French Embassy for Sri Lanka and the Maldives has been the latest to join the increasing international chorus of concern.

“France wishes to reiterate the importance of the right to a fair trial, which is a founding principle of democracy. We call on the Maldivian government to stand by its international commitments in this field,” a statement issued on Wednesday read.

Meanwhile, several Indian Diplomats told India’s Economic Times that the outcome of the trial had been a foregone conclusion, with the verdict written long before Nasheed was arrested and charged with terrorism.

“Every hearing at the court has been a blow to the rule of law,” said an unnamed Indian official.

“It is apparent that Yameen’s government, despite being seen as strong and stable, has seeds of instability within itself due to Yameen’s narrow outlook which has led to sustained efforts on the part of his coterie to neutralize other potential power centres and prospective threats,” the official said.

Government defends trial

Foreign minister Dunya Maumoon, at a press conference in Colombo on Monday (March 16), called upon India and Sri Lanka to defend the Maldives from “unjust criticism” from the international community.

Dunya and Attorney General Mohamed Anil maintained the trial was fair and just, insisting that the government does not interfere with the judiciary.

Arresting Judge Abdulla was a “serious crime,” Dunya said.

“We feel, that some people are a lot stricter on us because we are a small nation,” said Dunya. “There are countries with bigger issues than the Maldives.”

Dunya 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.”

In a statement issued last week, Dunya said that President Abdulla Yameen’s administration “will not take instructions from a foreign government on any issue in governing the country.”

President Abdulla Yameen has meanwhile called on all parties to respect the Criminal Court’s verdict.

In a statement released by the President’s Office on Sunday (March 15), 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 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 apecial rapporteur on the independence of judges to intervene in order to prevent a “slide back to autocracy,” whilst Transparency Maldives expressed “grave concern”, stressing that Nasheed was denied legal representation, the right to appeal, and sufficient time to mount a defence.

Related to this story

Former President Nasheed found guilty of terrorism, sentenced to 13 years in prison

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

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

Foreigners cannot meddle in domestic affairs, declares President Yameen

Global change makers demand a fair trial for Nasheed


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


School suspends session due to lingering smell from nearby garbage dump

An unpleasant smell originating from a garbage dump in Male’ caused a nearby school to suspend its session on Monday (March 18).

Ghiyasuddin School Principal Shirmeena Faheem told local media on Monday that the smell had lingered in the school’s premises from the beginning of the morning session.

Following concerns from the parents, the school’s session was suspended at 10am.

The principal stated that the condition had intensified due to the heavy rain from the previous night and the direction of the wind.

According to local media, a total of 800 students attend Ghiyasuddin School.