Majlis elections: Undue influence, bribery, and disilussionment led to losses, says MDP

Senior members of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have said that bribery and people losing faith in elections may have been responsible for the party’s loss in yesterday’s election.

While the preliminary results are to be announced by the Elections Commission (EC) tonight, results reported by the media indicate that the MDP have won less than 30 percent of seats (22 – 25 seats) while the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has taken approximately 39 percent of the seats (33 seats).

Along with the seats of the PPM’s coalition partners – including Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhooree Party (JP), who reportedly won 14 seats – President Abdulla Yameen’s government appears to have won the approximately 65 percent of the seats in the People’s Majlis.

MDP Chairperson MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik and MDP parliamentary group leader MP Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Solih  – both of whom reclaimed their seats yesterday – expressed discontentment over the party’s overall performance.

“There are a number of constituencies from which the results we got really surprised the MDP. This includes Gaafu Alif, Gaafu Dhaalu and Haa Alif atolls. The results we got from these areas are not the ones we expected or hoped for,” said Hinnavaru member Ibu.

He noted that the party was not satisfied with the results in Malé City, and that while Addu City’s results were largely as expected by the party, losing MP Ilyas Labeeb’s seat was a surprise.

Meanwhile Ibrahim ‘Ibra’ Ismail – who lost in yesterday’s Machangolhi Dhekunu poll – said that the results did not surprise him as much.

“I believe the election is a farce – while there was a free vote, it was not a fair vote. Government influences were used, voters were threatened, and people were bribed openly –  I noticed this particularly in my constituency.” He said.

Ibra led the drafting of the 2008 democratic constitution in the the constitutional assembly and later served as an advisor to President Mohamed Nasheed.

When the party seemed divided over participating in the election after the Supreme Court sentenced the independent EC members, Ibra revealed that he had supported a boycott just as had former President Nasheed.

“I said at the [MDP] national council meeting as well, it is meaningless to hold an election without addressing those issues. I supported an election boycott until the playing field was leveled. Without it the people’s will cannot be expressed,” said Ibra, stating that he had predicted a low number of seats even at that time.

Undue influence and democratic disillusion

Ibra’s concerns regarding bribery and undue influence by the government and businessmen was echoed by other MPs, with Moosa describing this influence as “huge”.

“In some islands we lost with very small difference because people’s jobs were threatened by businessmen who have influence over them. People were afraid. The government also used their powers and influence,” said the MP for Hulhu Henveiru.

Local NGO Transparency Maldives has today said that “issues of money politics threatens to hijack [the] democratic process” in the Maldives.

While this was a major issue of concern among all parties, parliamentary group leader Ibu also observed that “there are constituencies where the candidates have not put in as much effort as they should have.”

‘Ibra’ Ismail stated that the low turn out could have affected the number of seats won by the MDP, as it is likely that many pro-MDP people did not take part in the election.

While no official voter turnout has yet been announced, the EC has noted that it was very low. Some estimates put turnout as low as 65 percent compared to over 88 percent during the last presidential elections.

“It is too soon to comment [as to why MDP didn’t win the election] – we can only conjecture and surmise at this point, but if look into Malé, it was very obvious that the voter turnout was very low.”

“I believe a lot of MDP supporters and people who have similar thinking did not come out and vote this time. Because many of them believed that it was meaningless, that the government will keep changing the results until they get what they want,” said Ibra.

Ibu Solih, meanwhile, noted that the Supreme Court’s influence in the election also had a great impact on the turnout.

“One thing that we noticed is that following the Supreme Court cases, there was a lot of doubt whether or not the election will be held on the date. This contributed to the low turn out as people had been confused, and failed to re-register,” he said.

Chairperson Moosa said that people were “tired and exhausted” after three elections and “fighting the coup”, noting that this has also led to financial issues within the party.

The road ahead

Ibra described the party’s loss yesterday as a “huge set back for the democracy movement”.

“I think with these results, the constitution which protects minority rights and fundamental liberties will be suspended. It will be put on the shelf.”

“With tyranny of the judiciary combined with the tyranny of the majority, we will see the right to dissent, the right to exercise people’s will, the right live freely will be curtailed to that extent [where the constitution will be as good as suspended].”

Ibra noted, however, that no democratic efforts were ever wasted, while Moosa remained adamant that the MDP would not let democracy fail in the Maldives.

“We will not let that happen. We will protect democracy, hold the government accountable and ensure the independence of the judiciary. We can do all this, and we will.”

“We started this [fight for democracy] under an authoritarian government with the support of the people. We brought down that government with an election, we forced them to bring a democratic government, we have grown in numbers since then. We fought the coup and got an election even with several attempts to deny it,” said Moosa.

Both Ibra and Ibu felt that it is time for MDP to sit down and discuss how to proceed in the future.

“The MDP has to sit down and reevaluate their strategies and decide if the strategy used in the past five or six years has worked or not. We need to have a very honest look at the situation and reevaluate. But this task will be made harder considering the environment we have to restrategise in. It is a difficult and more opressive environment,” Ibra said.

With calls for party reform being heard, party chair Moosa said any changes will be brought in through democratic means.

“If it is necessary, we will reform MDP. The party will function as the members want it to, we will never allow family rule,” he said.


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.


Lawyers hold crisis meeting over new Supreme Court regulation

Top lawyers in the Maldives held a crisis meeting last night at the SHE Building to discuss the Supreme Court’s new “Regulation on Lawyers practicing law in the courts of Maldives” which demand that lawyers must to be registered to a court in order to be able to represent their clients in it.

Article 2.2 of the said regulation states: “Anyone who can represent in any court of law in the Maldives, shall be a person who has the license to practice law in the country, and shall also be registered accordingly as a lawyer in the given court to practice law.”

The regulation also restricts lawyers from openly criticising the discrepancies that take place within the courts.

The lawyers expressed concerns over the regulation citing that it would impose “difficulties for lawyers to represent their clients”.

The meeting was attended by senior lawyers of the country including the former Attorney General Abdulla Muiz, Deputy Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem and MP Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed, formed a sub-committee to work on behalf of the lawyers to amend the regulation.

Local news website Sun Online quoted an attendee as stating that the lawyers had identified a lot of difficulties with the new regulation.

“We decided to meet and discuss with the authorities regarding the regulations. This is something that all lawyers agreed was necessary,” he said.

One of the main concerns raised by the lawyers regarding the new regulations were that if they were to represent their clients in island magistrate courts, they would need to register in the given island magistrate court prior to appearing in the court.

Given the difficulty of transportation to islands, their concerns were that it could put in a further burden on lawyers to go to the island and register there.

With the new regulation, the Civil Court, the Criminal Court and the Juvenile Court have opened the opportunity for lawyers to register in the courts.

An MDP lawyer who took part in the discussion said the meeting was closed and would not reveal details of the discussion.

However, Minivan News understands that the lawyers are proposing to amend certain sections of the regulations, particularly the requirements that the lawyers register in island magistrate courts.

Speaking to Minivan News, Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constitutional Assembly that drafted the current constitution of the Maldives, Ibrahim ‘Ibra’ Ismail, said he believed that the Supreme Court did not have the authority to make such a regulation.

He also said that Supreme Court cannot have a say on the procedures of other courts, which he believed was interfering with the jurisdiction of those courts, and that it was not a duty of the Supreme Court to decide the rules that lawyers have to follow.

“If you look into other democratic countries, the matters relating to the lawyers are administered by a bar association. At the moment we do not have a bar association, but I remember that it was the Attorney General (AG)’s office that has been issuing the license to practice law and maintaining a lawyer’s database. It should be the AG who makes such a regulation,” he said.

The Attorney General’s office is currently headed by Azima Shukoor, formerly lawyer to President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Regarding the article 2.2 of the regulation, Ismail stated that he believed that once a lawyer gets his license to practice law in the country, he should be able to practice it without further obstruction.

Ismail also criticised the stipulation which demands lawyers not openly criticise the courts, describing it as limiting the fundamental right of freedom of expression in the constitution. Only legislation from the parliament could do so, he said.

“What they are trying to do is to cover up the mouths that speak of the [court’s] discrepancies. They know that when a lawyer speaks about the problems in the court, people will believe them more than when a politician does,” he said.

“I have always warned that the Supreme Court is slowly trying to exceed its mandate by interfering with the powers of other institutions. This regulation is just another step of that process,” he said.

The regulation would at the end of the day cause difficulties for ordinary people in obtaining legal representation, he said, and particularly impact the ability of islanders to receive justice.

“We have a very limited number of lawyers, and most of them live the capital Male’. If a person living on an island wants the services of a lawyer for a case going on in his island magistrate court, what will he do if there are no lawyers registered in that magistrate court?” he questioned.

“At the end of the day it is going to be the ordinary people who will suffer from such a regulation,” he said.

Ismail has been a vocal critic on the discrepancies of the courts and was previously reprimanded by the Supreme Court for calling on the public to “rise up and sort out the judges”, at a Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) rally in Kaafu Thulusdhoo on September last year.

He was later summoned to police for questioning after the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) requested the former Male’ MP be investigated.

When Minivan News contacted the Supreme Court, the officials refused to answer any questions, and demanded that any inquiries be send in an official letter. Once they received it, they would look into it, the court said.


Police question Ibra over “unclear” offence

Police summoned President’s Advisor Ibrahim ‘Ibra’ Ismail for questioning last night after the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) requested the former Male’ MP be investigated for calling on the public to “rise up and sort out the judges” at a Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) rally on September 2.

Speaking to press outside police headquarters, Ibra’s lawyer Ahmed Abdulla Afeef said “it was unclear” what offence or crime Ibra was suspected or accused of committing.

“Police said it was to clarify information after a letter was sent from the Judicial Service Commission,” he explained, adding that the alleged offence, or under which specific penal provision the investigation was to be conducted, was not clearly stated.

The letter from the JSC referred to an article on newspaper Haveeru reporting Ibra’s remarks at the September 2 MDP rally at Kaafu Thulusdhoo, Afeef said, stressing that neither police nor the JSC letter referred to any violation of laws.

“Judges are issuing verdicts any way they please. The effort we have to make against this is not inconsiderable. It was citizens who came out and ousted Maumoon from power. The matter of judges too can only be sorted out by citizens rising up,” Ibra, who was also the first elected president of MDP, was quoted as saying in newspaper Haveeru.

Ibra said last night he had “complete assurance” that criminal charges could not be pressed against him “because I have not committed a crime specified in the law.”

The former chair of the Special Majlis’ constitution drafting committee urged police to conduct a full investigation.

Ibra added that he was “very happy” that “today we have police who brings the law to bear on people in high posts of the government.”

“I won’t [exercise the right to] remain silent to evade the law, I won’t obstruct police investigations and court trials through various means to evade the law,” he asserted.

“Runaway judiciary”

The JSC is constitutionally mandated to investigate complaints of misconduct by judges, take disciplinary action and recommend dismissal of judges by parliament (through a two-thirds majority). Last year, 143 complaints were filed at the commission; by its own statistics none were tabled and only five were ever replied to.

Outspoken whistle-blower and then-President’s member on the JSC, Aishath Velezine, was meanwhile stabbed in the street in January this year.

In late 2010, Velezinee launched an emotive appeal against “a runaway judiciary” and the constitutionally-mandated reappointment of judges after vetting by the JSC, despite a quarter of sitting judges possessing criminal records and many having only finished seventh grade.

The majority of the current bench was appointed by former President Maumoom Abdul Gayoom, who was “the highest authority on administering justice” under the old constitution, with powers to appoint and dismiss judges as well as grant pardons and amnesties.

In an interview with Minivan News in September, Ibra argued that the JSC had been “compromised” and “the Supreme Court and key elements within the judiciary are still controlled by Gayoom – directly or indirectly.”

Ibra’s criticism of the judiciary at a ruling party rally in September prompted the JSC to conduct an “emergency meeting” where it decided to ask the “relevant authorities” to carry out an official investigation.

The Supreme Court meanwhile issued a press statement contending that Ibra’s remarks encouraged “the illegal curtailment of the tasks of the judiciary” and could lead to “the loss of peace and security of the Maldivian state and plunge the nation into unrest.”

Supreme Court Justice Adam Mohamed Abdulla is also the chair of the JSC, which has three judges from three tiers of the judiciary, one lawyer elected by licensed lawyers, one member of the public, the Speaker of parliament, an MP elected by parliament, a member of the President, the Attorney General and the chair of the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

Ibra meanwhile sued the Supreme Court last month for defamation in light of its statement. Shortly after the case registered, the apex court issued a writ of prohibition and took over the defamation case against itself from the Civil Court.

As a result, Ibra said at the time, “I now have to go before the Supreme Court and say to them ‘You have defamed me, now please decide in my favour.’”

He suggested that the Supreme Court’s reaction “establishes what I originally claimed. We as citizens – the public – have to do something. We can’t let seven idiots hijack the justice system of the entire country.”


Opposition parties condemn “dangerous” MDP protest against judiciary

Opposition parties have strongly condemned a protest launched by the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) against the judiciary and Supreme Court last week, warning of “dangerous” consequences for the nation.

At a press conference today, Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Deputy Leader Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef argued that with its campaign against the judiciary the ruling party was risking the Maldives becoming “a failed state.”

“We are starting to see in our country scenes similar to what we saw in countries like Rwanda and Uganda which became failed states, plunged into unrest and bloodshed,” he said.

If judges were accused of misconduct or corruption, said Shareef, complaints could be filed at the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), the oversight body for the judiciary.

“Trying to undermine the eminence and dignity of the whole judiciary cannot be seen as efforts to reform judges and put the courts back on the right track,” he contended.

The courts, police and Prosecutor General must take “legal action” against those who undermine the judiciary’s honour and prestige, Shareef said.

The DRP was “very concerned” with fears that the “whole system of justice in this country could fail,” he added.

Following the MDP’s national council approving a resolution to protest against the judiciary, DRP put out a joint press statement with its coalition partner Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) condemning the planned protest as an attempt to “influence the judiciary, intimidate judges and bring the courts into disrepute.”

In response to the MDP protest, the newly-formed Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) led by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom organised a demonstration at artificial beach Friday night to protest the MDP’s “intimidation of judges” and vowed to defend the judiciary.

The religiously conservative Adhaalath Party meanwhile issued a press statement yesterday characterising the MDP protest as “a dangerous warning from the MDP to Maldivian citizens who are against its ideology.”

Adhaalath claimed that the “true purpose” of the MDP’s campaign was to “nullify Islamic shariah, introduce common law to the country and bring foreign judges into the Maldivian judiciary.”

Adhaalath also accused the ruling party of using “bribery, undue influence and intimidation” to threaten separation of powers and “bring all the powers of the state into the President’s fist.”

Echoing a criticism made by other opposition parties, Adhaalath criticised police for failing to protect the former President’s residence. “This shows that the police as an institution is shackled by political influences,” the party said.

“Seven idiots”

In its statement, the Adhaalath Party called on the Supreme Court to take action against the President’s advisor Ibrahim ‘Ibra’ Ismail for saying at an MDP rally Friday night that the judiciary should be freed from “seven idiots” on the apex court.

Ibra recently filed a defamation case against the Supreme Court after it reprimanded him for calling on the public to “rise up and sort out the judges”.

In response to Ibra’s calls, the Supreme Court and the JSC demanded authorities investigate the former Male’ MP and chairman of the Special Majlis’ constitution drafting committee, claiming that “making such statements in a free, democratic society under lawful governance goes against the principles of civilisation.”

The Supreme Court subsequently issued a writ of prohibition and took over the case against it from the Civil Court, as a result of which, said Ibra, “I now have to go before the Supreme Court and say to them, ‘You have defamed me, now please decide in my favour.'”

Speaking at MDP Haruge on Friday night, Presidential Commission Spokesperson Abdulla Haseen noted that judges were not independent under the former government and had to follow instructions from the President or the Justice Minister on how to issue verdicts.

A majority of judges on the bench today were appointed by the former President and lacked educational qualifications to enforce the new constitution, he argued.

Haseen said the Presidential Commission was reluctant to send cases for prosecution as a number of cases against opposition MPs remained stalled at the Criminal Court for over two years.

MDP MP Mohamed Nazim said the party was powerless to prevent the contentious reappointment of judges without a parliamentary majority.

In August 2010, the JSC reappointed 160 of the judges appointed by the former government, despite a quarter of the bench possessing criminal records and many others with only primary school level education.

The Supreme Court meanwhile sent the President a letter claiming it had ruled itself tenure for life.

“The only thing we were able to do was [include a provision in the Judges Act] stating that lower court judges must obtain a diploma in seven years,” Nazim said.

Nazim accused the courts of partisan behaviour when it summoned Independent MP Ismail Abdul Hameed to court 45 minutes before a crucial vote on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) legislation. Hameed was found guilty of abuse of authority in his position as former director at the Male’ municipality and sentenced to one year’s banishment.

In his remarks, former Attorney General Dr Ahmed Ali Sawad observed that political parties neglected the development and modernisation of the judiciary during the reform movement that led to the adoption of a liberal constitution and multi-party democracy.

Criticism and civic action was necessary because of the current state of the judiciary and lack of public confidence in the institution, Sawad said, adding that criminalising persons who criticise the judiciary was contrary to “principles of democracy.”

The public should be able to criticise and comment upon court verdicts, individual judges and perceived failings of the judiciary, he insisted.

In May this year, the JSC abolished its Complaints Committee citing “efficiency”, with complaints against judges subsequently forwarded for review by the legal section and Commission Chair Adam Mohamed, a Supreme Court Justice.

Last year the JSC received 143 complaints concerning the conduct of judges. By its own statistics none were tabled in the commission, and only five were ever replied to. Chair of the former complaints commission, Aishath Velezinee, was meanwhile stabbed in the street in January this year.


Supreme Court reprimands Ibra for criticising judiciary

The Supreme Court has reprimanded President’s Advisor Ibrahim ‘Ibra’ Ismail for reportedly calling on the public to “rise up and sort out the judges” at a Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) rally Friday night in Kaafu Thulusdhoo.

A press statement issued by the Supreme Court yesterday claimed that Ibra’s remarks “encouraging the illegal curtailment of the tasks of the judiciary” could lead to “the loss of peace and security of the Maldivian state and plunge the nation into chaos and unrest”.

While article 299(a) of the constitution demands “obedience to the constitution” and compliance with all its provisions, the statement noted, article 144(c) states that, “No officials performing public functions, or any other persons, shall interfere with and influence the functions of the courts.”

Moreover, article 144(d) states that, “Persons or bodies performing public functions, through legislative and other measures, must assist and protect the courts to ensure the independence, eminence, dignity, impartiality, accessibility and effectiveness of the courts.”

The Supreme Court asserted that “making such statements in a free, democratic society under lawful governance goes against the principles of civilisation” and “the constitution of the Republic of the Maldives does not allow any such illegal activity”.

The court’s statement concluded by assuring the public that the highest court of appeal “as the parent of the constitution and laws of the country” would not tolerate “any action that could undermine established democratic institutions and the rights of the Maldivian state and the Maldivian people.”

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) – oversight body for the judiciary – meanwhile conducted an “emergency meeting” Sunday night prompted by Ibra’s remarks and decided to request “relevant authorities” to carry out an official investigation.

Ibra’s remarks came after the Criminal Court barred journalists from observing the corruption trial of Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim on August 25.

“Judges are issuing verdicts any way they please. The effort we have to make against this is not inconsiderable. It was citizens who came out and ousted Maumoon from power. The matter of judges too can only be sorted out by citizens rising up,” Ibra, former Male’ MP and first elected president of MDP, was quoted as saying in newspaper Haveeru.

Speaking to Minivan News today, Ibra argued that criticism of the judiciary did not constitute a criminal offence or could be considered unlawful.

Responding to the Supreme Court claim that his remarks could “plunge the nation into chaos and unrest”, Ibra noted that ensuring law and order was “out of the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction.”

“Before making such serious allegations against a person they should at least attempt to find out the truth or see if any law was violated,” he said. “It is like the Supreme Court believes they are above the law or a law unto themselves.”

Ibra, who also served as chairman of the drafting committee of the Special Majlis – the special assembly convened to revise the constitution in 2004 – noted that according to article 16 of the constitution fundamental rights and freedoms could only be limited by a law passed by parliament and “only if demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

“I know of no law passed by the Majlis that says it is illegal to criticise the judiciary,” he said.

On the Supreme Court’s contention that he violated article 144(c) and (d), Ibra pointed out that he had not said anything about an ongoing case that could be construed as “interference or influence.”

Ibra went on to criticise the JSC for deciding to investigate his remarks: “It has nothing to do with the mandate of the JSC. What law says their job is to take measures against people who criticise the courts?”

Moreover, he added, the JSC could only ask police to investigate if there was a criminal offence involved.

“Whether it’s the executive, legislature or judiciary, if anyone is acting dictatorially and harming citizens, I will come out and I will do everything I can to stop it,” he said.

Former President’s member on the JSC and outspoken whistle-blower, Aishath Velezinee, told Minivan News that Supreme Court Justice Adam Mohamed had in his capacity as JSC President asked that police investigate Ibra, and then had the Supreme Court issue its statement.

“What are the police going to do? It sounds like the highest court in the land has already issued its verdict,” she said.