PPM condemns statement by British MP Fiona Bruce

The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has condemned a statement issued by British MP Fiona Bruce, chairperson of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, in which she urged the international community to consider imposing sanctions on senior Maldivian government officials.

Bruce had called the terrorism trial of former President Mohamed Nasheed a “grotesque travesty of justice.”

Referring to Bruce calling Nasheed “a champion of non-violent, peaceful democracy,” the PPM claimed in a statement released in English last week that the former president had “resorted to violent, unlawful, unconstitutional and undemocratic methods during his regime from 2008 to 2012, including the unlawful ‘abduction and isolation’ of the Criminal Court Chief Judge in 2012.”

“We are further baffled by her baseless allegation that Nasheed was ‘physically mistreated while in custody,'” the statement read.

“We would like to emphasise that he has been fully accorded his rights in line with the constitution and the laws of the Maldives.

“If Chairperson Bruce wants to adhere to her unfounded accusations, we urge her to show proof of any ‘physical mistreatment’ of Nasheed while in custody, not ‘bandwagon’ without basic ‘fact checks.’ We also wish to tell her that, according to the constitution, the government cannot drop the charges against Nasheed, or anyone else.”

The statement added that Nasheed had succeeded former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – the PPM’s leader – “who had ushered in modern liberal democracy in the Maldives, in addition to transforming the country from one of the poorest five countries in the world to a flourishing economy with the highest per capita income in the whole of South Asia.”


UK Conservative Party’s human rights body calls for sanctions on Maldives

The UK Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commission has called a rushed terrorism trial against former President Mohamed Nasheed a “grotesque travesty of justice,” and urged the international community to consider sanctions against senior government officials.

The opposition leader is accused of ordering the “abduction” of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in 2012. If convicted under the 1990 anti-terrorism laws, he faces a jail term or banishment between ten and 15 years.

The chair of the Conservative Party’s human rights body, MP Fiona Bruce, said Britain and the international community could not afford to remain silent in the face of “such gross injustice.”

“Targeted sanctions against the international assets of senior members of the regime, as well as a boycott of tourist resorts owned by senior members of the regime or their associates, should be seriously considered,” she said in a statement today.

“The Commonwealth should consider suspending the Maldives. We must all do everything we can to ensure that Mohamed Nasheed is freed, democracy is restored and justice is done.”

The Conservative Party has long been an ally of Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), assisting with party building and campaigning.

The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) has meanwhile slammed the international community for its alleged “double standards and hypocrisy” over Nasheed’s trial.


Bruce expressed concern over the Criminal Court denying Nasheed legal representation at a first hearing, and the police’s manhandling of the former president when he was brought to court on February 23.

Nasheed appeared in court with his arm in a makeshift sling and requested immediate medical attention and legal counsel.

“I am deeply concerned that he has been physically mistreated while in custody. The images of him being dragged along the ground into court were truly shocking,” she said.

“Mohamed Nasheed is a champion of non-violent, peaceful democracy. Charging him with terrorism is in itself absurd, and blatantly politically-motivated,” she added.

She went on to question the impartiality of the Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin and the three judges—Abdulla Didi, Abdul Bari Yoousuf and Sujau Usman—who are overseeing Nasheed’s trial.

“In Mr Nasheed’s trial the prosecutor-general is a former associate of Judge Mohamed, and the lead judge had refused to take disciplinary action against Judge Mohamed as deputy head of the Judicial Services Commission. Another judge faces allegations of bribery and the third has a criminal record. What hope can there possibly be of a fair trial? “

The chairperson called on the government to release Nasheed and engage in political dialogue.

“Today I urge the Government of the Maldives to drop the charges, release Mr Nasheed and engage in a political dialogue to find a peaceful way forward towards the restoration of democracy and respect for human rights.”

Meanwhile, President Abdulla Yameen has declared foreigners must not meddle in domestic affairs, insisting Nasheed’s trial demonstrated the law would be enforced without bias.

In a statement on Thursday, the PPM 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.”

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 PPM has repeatedly called on the international community to respect Maldives sovereignty and not to undermine its institutions.

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.”

Local human rights group Maldivian Democracy Network has also highlighted 11 issues of concern with Nasheed’s trial, ranging from alleged witness coaching to Criminal Court’s refusal to provide sufficient time to mount a defence.

The Criminal Court, however, has insisted Nasheed’s legal team had been afforded sufficient time, arguing case documents had been provided three years ago when the former President was charged with arbitrarily detaining Judge Abdulla.

Nasheed’s legal team maintain they require more time to prepare a defence for the new harsher charges of terrorism.

When lawyers quit in protest on March 9, the Criminal Court proceeded without affording Nasheed ten additional days to appoint new lawyers, insisting the former president could appoint lawyers at any time via a phone call.

The Criminal Court is to hear concluding statements tomorrow night. Judges could issue a verdict at their discretion afterwards.

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.

Related to this story

Nasheed trial “not free or fair,” says Maldivian Democracy Network

Foreigners cannot meddle in domestic affairs, declares President Yameen

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

“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


Choking Off Freedom in the Maldives: New York Times

“In February, a cabal backed by an ousted dictator and a group of extremist Islamists dealt a severe blow to nascent democracy in a country many people consider an island paradise: the Maldives,” writes Deputy Chairman of the UK Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commission Benedict Rogers in the New York Times.

“In the past few weeks, the forces behind the new rulers have driven the knife deeper into the country’s wounded democracy. Without serious international pressure, people who struggled for freedom against dictatorship for so many years — and briefly tasted liberty — will be plunged into authoritarian rule coupled with a rapidly growing extremist Islamist agenda.

Three Danish legal experts published a report this month on their independent investigation into the events surrounding the resignation five months ago of the Maldives’ first democratically elected president, Mohamed Nasheed. They concluded that, according to international law, his ouster amounted to a coup d’état. The international community needs to take this report seriously.

Nasheed was charged this month with illegally arresting a judge while he served as president. It is clear that the charges are politically motivated, designed to eliminate him from contesting any future elections — if any are held. There is no chance he can expect a fair trial. If convicted, he could serve three years in jail.

The former president is not the only opposition activist being harassed by the new regime. The leader of the youth wing of his party, the Maldivian Democratic Party, Shauna Aminath, was arrested and detained, and other people who have taken part in pro-democracy protests have been severely beaten by the police. Demonstrators were released on condition that they did not participate in another protest for 30 days, in violation of the Constitution. Exiled democracy advocates have received death threats.

The Maldives’ journey to democracy was long and arduous. For 30 years, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom ruled the archipelago with an iron fist. Opponents were jailed, torture was rampant, freedom of speech nonexistent. Toward the end of his rule, however, he developed a thirst for legitimacy and respectability, and appointed several reformist ministers in the hope that they could give him a better image in the international community.”

Read More..