President Mohamed Nasheed has called upon the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) to investigate and uncover the injustices of the past to fulfill its mandate.
In his weekly radio address yesterday, President Nasheed said although the commission’s regulations stated that it could only investigate incidents dating from two years before its formation, the law gave HRCM the authority to conduct investigations before 2001.
“Until past injustices are investigated, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives will not be a commission that properly works for human rights in the country,” he said.
The president said grievous injury was done and serious injustices were perpetrated upon many citizens in the past 30 years.
“I am saying this as a person who has seen these things very closely. Many people have died. Many people were killed. The lives of many were ruined. A lot of people’s property was appropriated. Many people’s lives were destroyed to the point where they had no future,” he said.
“In truth, there is no way to find justice for these things. The time that was lost to them cannot be given back, the wrongs done to them cannot be set right. But, we have to carry out full investigations into these things to find out how it happened in order to ensure that it is not repeated.”
The president’s office continues to receive complaints from citizens about injustices done to them by the previous government.
Many senior officials of the government and MPs of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had “endured serious inhumane treatment”.
“I would like to note the harm done to MDP parliamentary group leader Reeko Moosa Manik,” he said. “The former government destroyed his life when he was very young.”
In 1983, Moosa was sentenced to death on charges of conspiring to overthrow the government.
In the run-up to last year’s presidential election and beyond, Moosa spoke extensively about his experiences in jail and how he was tortured.
The president said he was not asking the commission to investigate such cases based on a desire for vengeance on the part of either Moosa Manik or other MDP members. “We don’t wish for this to happen again to our children. Therefore, I believe that understanding how things happened in the past will give us the opportunity for us to stay clear of these things.”
Opening his address, the president said the biggest obstacle to progress and development of the country was the failure to secure human rights for citizens and the suppression of free expression.
Nasheed said the former government lost its way because people were not allowed to criticise or oppose its policies.
“It is very important for citizens to have their rights to keep the government on the right track; for everyone to know that they have certain rights,” he said.
The president said he wanted to assure citizens that anyone whose rights were violated in the past year of the first democratically elected government had the opportunity to seek redress for injustices.