UN Human Rights Council mulls action against Maldives

The President of the UN Human Rights Council has called the imposition of 11 guidelines on the Maldives human rights watchdog by the Supreme Court as “unacceptable,” and said he stands ready to take appropriate actions within his mandate.

“National human rights institutions play a pivotal role in independently monitoring and protecting human rights. The imposition of restrictions on the HRCM [Human Rights Commission of the Maldives] for its engagement, in particular, with the Human Rights Council, and its mechanisms is unacceptable,” said Joachim Rücker in a letter to a New-Delhi based advocacy group.

The Supreme Court had found a human rights assessment submitted by the HRCM to the UN’s Universal Periodic Review unlawful, and set several guidelines prescribing how it should operate within the law.

The guideline bars the HRCM from communicating independently with foreign bodies, and orders it to protect unity, peace and order, and uphold Maldivian norms and faith.

The Asian Center for Human Rights (ACHR) on June 26 had urged Rücker to condemn the Supreme Court’s judgment against the HRCM, stating that “the act of reprisal” is unheard of.

If the UN human rights council fails to condemn it, it would set dangerous precedent across the world, the NGO warned.

In reply, Rücker said: “Please rest assured that I will continue to closely follow this case, continue the dialogue with the Government of the Maldives, as Member State of the Human Rights Council, and stand ready to take appropriate actions within my mandate.”

The issue had been raised at a human rights council meeting on June 26, and had been discussed at a bureau meeting with vice-presidents, he said. Concern had been raised with Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon as well.

The ACHR had previously called on the UN Human Rights Council to suspend the Maldives from the council.

Suhas Chakma, the Director of the ACHR, on Wednesday called upon President Abdulla Yameen to place a new bill in the parliament to revoke the Supreme Court’s verdict against the HRCM before the end of the ongoing UN Human Rights Council.

The 29th session of the UNHRC is taking place from June 15 to July 3 in Geneva, Switzerland. The inter-governmental body is comprised of 47 member states and meets for 10 weeks every year, in March, June and September.

The Maldives was first elected to the council in 2010 and re-elected for a second term in November 2013.

The ACHR has special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council and provides information and complaints to national human rights institutions and the UN bodies and mechanisms.

The government had previously defended the court’s judgment, insisting that the court’s decision “clearly stresses” the commission’s independence.

The foreign ministry said the guidelines “do no stipulate, in any specific terms, any restriction or limitation on the HRCM’s ability to submit reports to the UN or any other national or international organ in the future.”



‘External actors’ supporting radical elements, says foreign minister

Foreign minister Dunya Maumoon has expressed concern with external actors providing support to radical elements in societies transitioning to democracy.

“Radicalism has no place in Islam,” Dunya declared at the 42nd session of the council of foreign ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Kuwait.

“Nonetheless, in every corner of our Ummah, faces of radicalism stare back at us. It is most distressing to the Maldives that external actors to continue to provide all forms of support to such radical elements, particularly in emerging democracies,” she said in an address delivered on Thursday.

Nearly a dozen Maldivian jihadis have reportedly died in Syria.

Since the first reports of Maldivians travelling for jihad surfaced last year, a steady stream of recruits have left the country, including couples and entire families. The government has not previously suggested that foreigners could be involved in recruiting locals.

In January, commissioner of police Hussein Waheed estimated over 50 Maldivians could be fighting in foreign civil wars, but the opposition says the figure could be as high as 200.

The government has since drafted a new terrorism law that criminalises participation in foreign wars.

Dunya meanwhile called for unity among Muslims in order “to rebuild the fallen bridges of tolerance.”

Islamic civilisation was once the standard bearer, “not only in science and innovation, but also in maintaining peace and promoting tolerance,” she said, and “tolerance was once the soft power of the Islamic Ummah.”

She also condemned “Israel’s illegal settlements in Palestine” on behalf of the government.

“The Maldives calls on countries around the world to support the state of Palestine and to recognise its sovereignty in Palestinian territories,” she said.

“Peace has to win over war in Syria, Libya, and Yemen. Compassion has to be shown to the large number of Rohingya Muslims stranded in the open seas in South East Asia.”

Dunya said she was “heartened to see an increased number of women colleagues” in the OIC meeting.

“Around the world women continue to face hardships. Islam liberated women and elevated their status in society and family. And Muslim countries need to continue with, instead of constraining, the rights of women,” she said.

The democratic reform agenda launched in 2004 by her father, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, “has transformed the country into a vibrant multi-party democracy without compromising our Islamic values and heritage,” she continued.

“The government of President Yameen is determined to see through the reform process. Islamic civilisation brought revolutionary changes to the systems of governance,” she said.

“It recognised the dignity of the human. The OIC is ideally placed to reposition the Islamic Ummah in the global platform as the new-age House of Wisdom.”


MDP congratulates British conservative party on election victory

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have congratulated the British Conservative Party and prime minister David Cameron for the ruling party’s shock victory in last week’s general elections.

“The imprisoned president of the MDP, former president Mohamed Nasheed wishes to convey his compliments from the confines of a cell in Maafushi jail in the Maldives on the impressive victory for the Conservative Party under the leadership of Prime Minister David Cameron,” the main opposition party said in a statement.

Nasheed is serving a 13-year jail sentence on terrorism charges after a 19-day trial in March that was widely criticised by foreign governments, the UN, and Amnesty International for its apparent lack of due process.

The Conservative Party has a longstanding relationship with the MDP dating back to its formation in 2005.

“I am heartened by the electoral successes of my friends in the Conservative Party, who has so steadfastly stood by us as we have endeavoured to nurture our nascent democracy in the Maldives.” Nasheed was quoted as saying in the MDP statement.

“I take this opportunity to extend my warmest congratulations to our friends in the Conservative Party who have retained their seats as well as those members who are freshly beginning a parliamentary career as proud Conservatives under your able and inspiring leadership.

“I have no doubt that under the leadership of prime minister Cameron, the Conservative Party will lead the United Kingdom to even greater prosperity and success in the future, both at home and internationally.”

The MDP said the party is “greatly appreciative of its close friendship and cooperation with the Conservative Party, from whom we have gained much experience and knowledge on political party building and democratic practice.”

Foreign minister Dunya Maumoon also congratulated the re-elected UK prime minister for the “outstanding win by the Conservative Party”.

The Conservative Party won 331 out of the 650 seats in the UK House of Commons and secured a majority for the centre-right party, which had formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats after the 2010 general elections.


Maldives defers decision on UPR recommendations for judicial reform

The Maldives has deferred accepting or rejecting recommendations put forth at the UN human rights council on judicial reform and protection of human rights defenders, pending “national level consultation”.

Of the 258 recommendations from UN member states, the government accepted 132 and rejected 49 due to constitutional constraints. The Maldives said it will examine the remaining 77 recommendations and “provide responses in due time” before the 30th session of the Human Rights Council in September or October 2015.

The recommendations under review include calls to ensure the impartiality and independence of the judiciary, reform the Judicial Service Commission, and provide training to judges.

The “politicised” judiciary came under fire from countries across the world during last week’s UPR session, which took place amidst heightened international scrutiny and political turbulence triggered by the imprisonment of former president Mohamed Nasheed.

The UK recommended steps to “ensure the administration of justice is fully consistent with international human rights standards and seek international technical assistance.”

“Strengthen the independence of the judiciary by reforming the Judicial Services Commission’s process for selecting and appointing judges,” recommended the US.

Canada advised the formation of an independent bar association while several countries recommended steps to ensure the separation of powers.

Ireland recommended providing “adequate training for judges, including human rights training, to ensure all judicial proceedings conform to international fair trial standards”.

New Zealand recommended accepting “a follow up visit by the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers and accept the outstanding request of a visit by the Special Rapporteur on the situations of human rights defenders.”

The Netherlands advised fully implementing the special rapporteurs’ recommendations, including a constitutional review of the composition of the JSC.

Responding to criticism of the judiciary at the working group session, foreign minister Dunya Maumoon said the Maldives is training and building capacity of judges and has formulated a judicial sector strategic action plan to increase effectiveness, efficiency and public confidence.

The 49 recommendations Maldives rejected include allowing freedom of religion, ensuring the rights of homosexuals, banning the death penalty, and decriminalising consensual sexual relations.

The rejected recommendations also included removing a requirement that prevents non-Muslims from being members of the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM).

The Maldives constitutional assembly had declared Islam to be the state religion and the basis of all laws enacted in the country, and requires judges to refer to Islamic law, legal secretary Aishath Bisham said last week.

Other rejected recommendations included calls from Norway and Canada to release ex-president Nasheed and other “political prisoners.”

The US also called for an end to “politically-motivated prosecutions and court proceedings” against HRCM members and Nasheed, who was “convicted and imprisoned without minimum fair trial guarantees”.

Human rights defenders

Several countries also recommended taking steps to ensure the safety of human rights defenders, civil society actors and journalists against attacks and reprisals, calling for investigation and prosecution of individuals behind threats and intimidation.

The independence of the HRCM should also be assured, its members protected from reprisals, and the HRCM law brought in line with Paris Principles, reads the recommendations under review.

During the review, many countries expressed alarm over the Supreme Court’s suo moto case against the human rights watchdog over its UPR submission.

Denmark meanwhile noted that the Maldives’ initial report to the UN Committee against Torture is overdue since 2005.

“Bring an end to arbitrary detentions, particularly on the grounds of political opinion; investigate allegations of torture and ill treatment in prisons and bring those responsible to justice,” recommended France.

Other recommendations included ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and the optional protocol of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Germany and Portugal recommended the Maldives accede to Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, and the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

Other countries recommended signing the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education and the Protocol to the Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime.


Foreign minister ‘misled’ UN on Nasheed trial

The office of former president Mohamed Nasheed has accused foreign minister Dunya Maumoon of “deliberately misleading” the UN Human Rights Council regarding the opposition leader’s terrorism trial.

During the Maldives’ Universal Period Review in Geneva on May 6, Dunya claimed that Nasheed chose not to appeal his 13-year sentence and that due process concerns regarding the trial were procedural and not substantive.

Criticism of Nasheed’s trial had “mainly focused on the process and not the merits,” she said.

But Nasheed’s office contends he was deliberately denied the right to appeal after the criminal court failed to provide necessary documentation within the ten day appeal period specified by the Supreme Court.

“The Maldives’ criminal court refused to release the transcript of the trial — information vital to the launch of an appeal — until 11 days after conviction, thus deliberately preventing Nasheed’s legal team from appealing,” reads a statement released yesterday.

It added that Nasheed’s lawyers informed the court of their intent to appeal four days after the conviction on March 13.

“The lawyers repeatedly asked the criminal court for the trial transcript, but the court refused to release it until the window for appeal had closed. When the transcript was finally released, it had been doctored and was full of irregularities,” the statement continued.

President Abdulla Yameen and other senior government officials have repeatedly advised Nasheed to appeal. Prosecutor general Muhthaz Muhsin told Minivan News last week that the High Court could accept an appeal despite the expiration of the 10-day period.

“I personally think this case has a high possibility of being accepted at the high court since Nasheed is a former president, since it is related to a judge and since it is a terrorism charge,” he said.

But Nasheed’s lawyers say the Supreme Court, in the same ruling that had shortened the 90 day appeal period to ten days, had removed the High Court’s discretionary powers.

The apex court in January had voided Article 42  of the Judicature Act which set out appeal deadlines and gave judges discretionary powers in accepting late appeals. The 90–180 day appeal period obstructed justice, the Supreme Court said. A new 10-day appeal period was set out, but the apex court was silent on procedures for late appeals.

Nasheed’s lawyer, Hisaan Hussain, told the press today there was no “legal basis” for the government’s stance.

She suggested the government was encouraging Nasheed to appeal because it could determine the outcome through its undue influence over the judiciary.

“The government is saying in the same breath that it does not meddle in court cases but that there is still the opportunity to appeal despite the 10-day period elapsing,” she said.

Nasheed wanted to appeal, but was effectively deprived of the right to appeal due to the criminal court’s “deliberate” refusal to release the transcripts until the 11th day after sentencing, she said.

The legal team reiterated calls for president Yameen to exercise powers under clemency laws to pardon and release Nasheed.

Lawyer Hassan Latheef claimed 10 countries had called for Nasheed’s release during the UPR session, warning that the Maldives could face international sanctions if the government does not comply.

Nasheed was found guilty on terrorism charges relating to the detention of criminal court chief judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

Amnesty called the conviction a “travesty of justice” while the UN human rights chief said Nasheed was sentenced after a “hasty and apparently unfair trial” and noted “flagrant irregularities.”

The special rapporteur noted “serious due process violations” such as denial of the opportunity to present defence witnesses, which led her to believe “the outcome of the trial may have been pre-determined.”

The European parliament meanwhile adopted a resolution condemning the “serious irregularities” of the trial while US secretary of state John Kerry said during a visit to Sri Lanka that Nasheed was “imprisoned without due process”.

“This is an injustice that needs to be addressed soon,” he said.


Maldives judiciary hammered in UN human rights review

Countries across the world have blasted the Maldives for it’s politicized judiciary and expressed alarm over threats to journalists and human rights defenders at a UN periodic review of human rights in Geneva today.

The imprisonment of former president Mohamed Nasheed on terrorism charges was also noted with concern by Norway, Germany, the United Kingdom, Denmark, the United States, Canada and Australia.

But many countries welcomed new anti-torture laws and laws protecting migrant worker and women’s rights in the Maldives, and applauded progress in healthcare and education.

The UN’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) comes amidst heightened international scrutiny of the Maldives over political turbulence triggered by Nasheed’s arrest in February. Hundreds were arrested this weekend in a 20,000 strong anti-government protest.

Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon said the Maldives is training and building capacity of judges, and said criticism of Nasheed’s trial had “mainly focused on the process and not the merits.”

Many countries also slammed the Maldives for the Supreme Court’s decision to try members of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) for treason over a submission to the UPR.

Despite the strong criticism, the foreign ministry in a statement tonight said the human rights council had “praised Maldives for the tremendous progress it has achieved in the promotion and protection of human rights.”

Judicial reform

Expressing concern over a “lack of respect for the most basic principals of fair trial and due process” during Nasheed’s trial, Norway called on the Maldives to release the opposition leader immediately.

Germany noted a climate of growing fear in the Maldives due to increasing gang related violence, religious intolerance, and attacks and death threats faced by journalists, politicians and civil society groups.

The UK meanwhile called on the Maldives to ensure administration of justice is “fully consistent with international human rights standards” and take urgent action to protect journalists, NGOs and to investigate and prosecute individuals behind the threats.

The UK also expressed concern over arrests of opposition leaders during the mass antigovernment protest on May 1, and called for dialogue between the government and opposition parties.

Denmark noted irregularities and rushed processes in Nasheed’s trial, and recommended the “Maldives restore confidence in its legal system by ensuring the clear and unambiguous division of powers, including the indisputable independence of its judicial processes and judges.”

The United States urged the Maldives to end politically motivated prosecutions, including the Supreme Court’s prosecution of members of the human rights watchdog.

The US said it was concerned about fair trial guarantees and said Maldives must strengthen the independence of the judiciary by reforming the process by which the judicial watchdog – the Judicial Services Commission – selects and appoints judges.

Adding its voice to calls for Nasheed’s release, Canada said Maldives must reaffirm its commitment to democracy and rule of law, and institute an independent bar association.

Meanwhile, India said the judiciary must adhere to due process to maintain public trust and said the space for legitimate political dissent must be safeguarded.

Botswana, Brazil, Argentina, Slovenia, New Zealand, Ghana, Switzerland, Italy, Ireland, South Korea, Bangladesh, Liechtenstein, Netherlands, Trinidad and Tobago, Kenya and France also spoke on the need for judicial reform.

International spotlight

Responding to criticism of Nasheed’s trial, foreign minister Dunya said the case “has highlighted the profound need to work together and strengthen oversight institutions, including the judiciary and the need to bring urgent reforms to the judiciary.”

She censured Nasheed for his decision not to seek an appeal, stating appellate courts were set in place to address shortcomings by the lower courts.

Nasheed’s lawyers had decided not to appeal after the criminal court failed to provide the necessary documentation within a shortened ten-day appeal period. The opposition leader has instead appealed to president Abdulla Yameen to reduce his sentence and release him through special procedures in the Clemency Act.

On the Supreme Court’s prosecution of the human rights commission, the Maldives representative in Geneva, Geela Ali, declined to comment, stating: “as the matter is yet to be decided, we deem it inappropriate to comment on the matter just yet.”

The charges were brought in September last year under new suo moto regulations that allow the Supreme Court to prosecute and pass judgment. The case is still pending.

Dunya said the Maldives had formulated a judicial sector strategic action plan with new benchmarks for increasing efficiency, effectiveness and public confidence in the judiciary.

“Almost everyone seems to have something to say, about what they think is good for the Maldives. As a result, every baby step that the Maldives takes is fiercely debated all over the world, including in the corridors of power in key capitals,” she said.

“It is easy to criticize, but we urge you to not only do that: invest in us, bring about meaningful change.”

She insisted Maldives’ institutions must have the space to grow organically, and said meaningful democratic change cannot be imposed. Change “can only be sustained if the change is locally owned, locally driven and locally shaped,” she said.


Global spotlight poses ‘enormous challenges’ to Maldives democracy

The global spotlight on the Maldives has exacerbated challenges to consolidating democracy following the introduction of a multi-party system of governance, the government has told the UN.

The 2008 constitution established independent state institutions and “diluted” the power of the executive branch, “posing considerable challenges to maintaining political order in the society,” states the government’s submission to the UN human rights council’s Universal Period Review (UPR).

“These challenges have been exacerbated by the realities of having to nurture and cultivate an entirely new system of governance under global spotlight,” reads the national UPR report.

“The level and depth of international scrutiny means that it has been an enormous challenge to ensure that the Maldivian state and its institutions are given the necessary space to make their own decisions, and emerge as an organic set of institutions tailored to provide local solutions to local challenges.”

The UPR process involves a periodic examination of the human rights situation of all member states based on submissions from the state, the human rights body, and NGOs.

Foreign minister Dunya Maumoon is currently in Geneva to attend the Maldives’ review scheduled to take place tomorrow. The country’s first review took place in 2010.

A working group comprised of the human rights council’s 47 member states will conduct the Maldives’ review. Several Western governments have submitted questions on judicial reform, former president Mohamed Nasheed’s trial, the reintroduction of the death penalty, and lack of religious freedom.

The second review comes amid a deepening political crisis and growing international and domestic pressure for the release of imprisoned opposition politicians, including Nasheed, ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim, and leaders of allied opposition parties arrested in a crackdown on a mass anti-government rally on Friday.

The national report went on to say that “prolonged political tensions generated by political opposition, and continuous international scrutiny of the government’s attempts in reducing such tensions meant that the government is required to spend more time in explaining its actions to international partners, instead of focusing on governance, and implementation of its political and international obligations, including those on human rights.”

The scrutiny has also led to “disillusionment in some quarters of the population about the true spirit and gains of democracy, and for others to believe that the ultimate remedy for any local political grievance is to be found at the international level, instead of through local institutions established by an ardours [sic], yet democratic, process.”

The conviction of ex-president Nasheed on terrorism charges after a 19-day trial was widely criticised by foreign governments, the UN, and Amnesty International over the apparent lack of due process. However, the government has remained defiant in the face of international criticism and “meddling” in internal affairs.

In contrast, the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party yesterday welcomed statements from the US, UN and Canada as well as a resolution by the European parliament calling for Nasheed’s release.

The government meanwhile stated that despite numerous challenges, the country’s “democratic growth trajectory is continuing in a steady upward momentum”.

The country has made progress with free education, universal health care, and 2,630 social housing units built to date, the report continued, while the Maldives has achieved three millenium development goals with infant and maternal mortality rates on par with developed countries and eradication of polio, malaria, and other vaccine-preventable diseases.

The report also noted the enactment of legislation on anti-torture, prisons and parole, anti-money laundering and terrorism financing, extradition, and the passage of a new penal code.

Legislation on anti-domestic violence, sexual offences, sexual harassment, and disabilities represented “significant gains in protecting the rights of vulnerable groups.”

The persisting challenges include geographic dispersion of the small population, climate change, lack of capacity and technical expertise.

“Emerging challenges such as religious issues posed by differing interpretations of religious teachings, the high prevalence of drug abuse, and closely related issue of gang violence will bring up new issues in realising human rights in the country,” the report stated.


UN rights office urges action to rectify Nasheed’s ‘vastly unfair’ trial

The trial and conviction of former president Mohamed Nasheed was “vastly unfair, arbitrary, and disproportionate,” a senior official at the UN human rights office said yesterday, urging action to resolve a deepening political crisis.

The government, however, remains defiant in the face of growing international and domestic pressure for the release of the opposition leader.

At a UN press briefing in Geneva on Friday, Mona Rishmawi, head of the rule of law, equality and non-discrimination branch, said Nasheed’s 19-day trial was politically motivated and his conviction was reached by judges wielding “incredible discretionary powers.”

“We kind of started to get signals that even the government recognises that something went wrong with the process of the trial,” she was quoted as saying by Reuters.

“We would like to see this translate into concrete political action and see something happening in this case…What is very clear is that the president still has clemency powers.”

Rishmawi visited the Maldives from April 20 to 23 as head of a delegation from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to “examine the broader issues” related to Nasheed’s case.

However, foreign minister Dunya Maumoon told the state broadcaster yesterday that the government will not comply with demands from foreign governments to “meddle” with the judiciary and release a convict.

The European parliament adopted a resolution last week calling on the government to release Nasheed and urged member states to issue warnings on the Maldives’ human rights record on their travel advice websites.

Nasheed’s international lawyers are also seeking a judgment from the UN working group on arbitrary detention declaring his incarceration illegal.

Dunya reportedly said the Maldives would become “enslaved” and lose its independence if the government accepted the demands.

The foreign governments do not wish well for the Maldives, Dunya said, and called on the public to protect the country’s institutions, independence, and sovereignty.

After meetings with officials from the government and the judiciary as well as members of civil society organisations, the UN delegation found that the prosecutor general and judges have “excessive discretionary powers” in the absence of criminal justice procedures and evidence laws, according to a press briefing note from the UN rights office.

Rishmawi noted that lesser charges against Nasheed over the January 2012 military detention of criminal court chief judge Abdulla Mohamed had been withdrawn shortly before his arrest in February.

Nasheed “learnt about the new charge under the Terrorism Act only upon his arrest.”

He was found guilty on March 13 and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

The criminal court denied Nasheed “the possibility to prepare and present adequate defence, including calling defence witnesses, and examining the evidence against him.”

“What we saw is that the rules have been really changed to lead to a certain result,” she said.

The discretionary powers do not work for the benefit of a fair trial, which she said was the main issue at stake and suggested that “international pressure could help fix flaws” in the judiciary.

The briefing note added that the Maldivian judiciary is “is perceived as politicised, inadequate and subject to external influence” and referred to the convictions of former defence ministers Mohamed Nazim and Tholhath Ibrahim, who also “received disproportionate sentences in a flawed trials.”

The UN human rights office urged the government to ensure an environment conducive for political dialogue, allow the exercise of the rights of free expression and assembly, and ensure Nasheed’s safety in custody.

Rishmawi met the former president in a “temporary location” before he was transferred to the high-security Maafushi jail, and described Nasheed as thoughtful and humorous.

“But I wouldn’t say he was relaxed. He knew he was facing 13 years in prison and he knew that his situation is really really difficult and he worried a lot about his safety,” she said.


EU resolution based on ‘fabrications, misconceptions, and misrepresentations’

The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and the foreign ministry have slammed a European Union parliamentary resolution urging the government to release ex-president Mohamed Nasheed.

The resolution is based on “fabrications, misconceptions and misrepresentations”, the PPM contended while foreign minister Dunya Maumoon declared that “the human rights achievements of the Maldives is better than some European countries.”

The non-binding resolution adopted today urged member states to issue warnings on the Maldives’ human rights record on their travel advice websites over an increased tendencies towards authoritarian rule, including Nasheed’s imprisonment for 13 years on terror charges.

The EU parliament noted a crackdown on political opponents including the imprisonment of two former defence ministers and a ruling party MP, the intimidation of media and civil society and the politicisation of the judiciary.

But Dunya said the Maldives’ “achievements since 2004 is exemplary for a small state.”

“We have a vibrant political system where people have space to express their political opinions without any hindrance. We do not shoot protesters. There is no looting in the name of political rallies.  Our custodial facilities do not torture those under state custody,” she said.

The PPM meanwhile said the EU had issued “equally grossly-misinformed releases” in the past, but “chose to turn a blind eye and stay silent on matters regarding the Maldives during the three year three month regime of former President Mohamed Nasheed, which was the single most brutal, dictatorial and violent period of rule in contemporary Maldivian history.”

The PPM suggested that the European parliament “risks tarnishing its own standing in global society, and it’s reputation among European citizens themselves by refusing, for shrouded political gains, to call a spade a spade.”

“The European Parliament must by now know that its failure to report the truth in matters regarding the Maldives has left its own reputation among the Maldivian public at serious risk of irreversible damage,” reads the PPM statement released today.

The ruling party went on to claim Nasheed’s government arbitrarily arrested political activists and MPs, sent out “knife-wielding thugs” against opposition protesters, unlawfully politicised state media, undermined independent institutions, and carried out corruption amounting to “hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The rise of extremism worsened under Nasheed’s administration, it continued, as its “schizophrenic policies on religious affairs in the country had contributed to the ideological confusion among young people, which has led to some Maldivians fleeing the country to join the ranks of foreign fighters in ISIS-led terrorist conflict zones.”

As Nasheed was found guilty of ordering the “enforced disappearance” of criminal court chief judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012 – “a gross Nazi-esque violation” of constitutional rights and international norms – the PPM asked whether the EU condoned the “kidnapping of judges”.

Neither the government nor the public will entertain calls for Nasheed’s release “through the very unlawful and unethical avenues that Nasheed himself employed”.

“This is not a banana republic nor is this a pawn of any regional bloc or external power,” the PPM said.

Hours before the resolution passed, president’s office minister Mohamed Hussain Shareef ‘Mundhu’ told the press he expected a “watered down” resolution, and said the government is “happy” with the resolution as it shows that the current administration is upholding the Maldivian constitution and sovereignty.

“Actionable” clauses such as imposing a travel ban and freezing assets of Maldivian government officials were removed before the resolution was put to a vote, he said.

According to Mundhu, the resolution  “praises” Nasheed and EU MEPs are demanding his release as the former president was “a proxy ruler” of Europeans. He alleged that the EU is condemning the Maldivian government for refusing to allow freedom of religion and same sex marriage.

The resolution was pushed through by the UK’s Conservative Party, which Mundhu said was a longstanding ally of Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), and the Christian Democratic Party.

Other parties in the European parliament “forced” the Conservative Party to remove the actionable clauses, he claimed.

Mundhu also said the EU refused to extend the duty-free status of fish imported from Maldives due to the country’s stance on freedom of religion and legalising gay marriage.

An EU delegation that visited the Maldives this week had told government officials yesterday that a non-binding resolution by the European parliament was inconsequential and akin to “a resolution adopted by the Baa atoll Thulhadhoo council,” Mundhu said.

President Abdulla Yameen has previously accused the EU of imposing restrictions on Maldivian imports for refusing to abandon Islamic principles.

The country has since sought other markets for fish exports and the EU was no longer  “that important economically, outside of tourism”.