The wife of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Abdulla Jabir has today submitted a legal issue to the High Court arguing that the recently jailed MP has a right to campaign for next month’s Majlis elections.
Jabir is currently serving a one year jail sentence after being found guilty of declining to provide a urine sample for police to run a drug test.
Speaking to Minivan News today Dhiyana Saeed said that Article 73 of the constitution, which details persons who cannot qualify as Majlis candidates, states that a person serving a jail term of less than 12 months is still qualified.
“If the constitution states that a person serving a jail term less than 12 months will be able to contest in the election then that person should not be suspended from obtaining his electoral rights,’’ she said. “If he is able to contest then he must also be able to campaign.”
Dhiyana – herself a former attorney general and SAARC secretary general – said that the High Court should allow the MP to make phone calls and talk to constituents at a time determined by the court, or he should be allowed to visit a campaign office at a time determined by the court.
Dhiyana noted that when the Elections Act was enacted in 2008, the Jumhooree Party filed a court case claiming that the act’s ruling that prisoners are not able to vote was inconsistent with the constitution.
The High Court subsequently ruled that that article was void and that inmates should have the right to vote.
“So this is the other side of that right, that time it was the right of the persons voting and this time it is the right of the candidate,’’ she said.
Dhiyana revealed that the High Court has said it will decide on accepting the issue and inform her this afternoon.
“If the High Court does not accept this case then we will try filing it with the Civil Court as a civil right issue,’’ she added.
On February 20, 2014, the Criminal Court found Abdulla Jabir guilty of refusing to provide his urine sample to the police to run a drug test, and sentenced him to twelve months under the 2011 Drug Act.
On November 16, 2012, Jabir was arrested along with other high profile MDP members on suspicion that they were in possession and under the influence of alcohol and cannabis from Jabir’s uninhabited island Hondaidhoo in Haa Alifu Atoll.
The prosecutor general pressed three charges against Jabir – one for the charge of declining to provide a urine sample to police, a second charge for making cannabis transactions, and a third for possession of alcohol.
Last month, the Criminal Court found Jabir guilty of declining to provide urine sample and the MP was taken into custody. Last week, however, the court ruled that the state was not able to prove that Jabir had made any transactions involving cannabis. The alcohol possession case is ongoing.
Jabir’s legal team has claimed the first trial contravened the MP’s constitutional rights as well as the principles of natural justice.
“The number of procedural violations in the whole criminal justice process in regard to this case is highly concerning and we believe that Hon. Abdullah Jabir was denied the fundamental rights that constitutes a free and fair hearing guaranteed to him by Article 42 of the Constitution,” read a press release from Aequitas Legal Consultants last week.
Last month a house in Malé owned by the MP was raided by police, with three men were arrested and drugs and alcohol were seized, though it was reported that Jabir does not live in the building.