UK MP urges re-establishment of Maldives rule of law in early day motion

Conservative Party MP Fiona Bruce has tabled an early day motion in the House of Commons this week urging the United Kingdom to take “all reasonable steps to encourage the re-establishment of democracy and rule of law throughout the Maldives.”

The motion – which has so far gained just three signatures – expressed alarm at the series of events that have led to former President Mohamed Nasheed’s removal from office, arrest, conviction on terrorism charges and sentencing to 13 years in jail.

It noted several irregularities in Nasheed’s trial, including the Criminal Court’s decision to deny legal representation at a number of hearings and to reject defence witnesses before they were heard.

Bruce, who also serves as the Chairperson of the Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commission, also highlighted that many of Nasheed’s supporters have been arrested and the live broadcast feed from the People’s Majlis chambers has been cut “so the public have very little knowledge of what is happening within the Parliament.”

She said that any allegations against Nasheed must be considered openly, and with due respect for justice and legal processes.

Early day motions are tabled by MPs to publicise a particular event or cause, and to gather support among MPs for that event or cause.

Nasheed’s terrorism trial regarding the military’s abduction of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed has drawn international concern. The UK, United States, and the European Union expressed concern over the lack of due process while Canada said it was “appalled by the guilty verdict”.

Bruce has previously called for sanctions against the Maldives, stating 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 of their associates, should be seriously considered. The Commonwealth should consider suspending the Maldives,” she said.

The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) hit back at Fiona’s comments claiming Nasheed had been “fully accorded his rights in line with the Constitution and the laws of Maldives.”

The PPM recommended Bruce do a “basic fact-check” and said the government cannot drop the charges against Nasheed, or anyone else.

President Abdulla Yameen has previously described advocating for charges to be dropped against Nasheed as judicial interference, and said foreigners must not meddle in Maldives’ domestic affairs.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul said the trial made a “mockery” of the Maldives Constitution and said: “The speed of proceedings combined with the lack of fairness in the procedures lead me to believe the outcome of the trial may have been pre-determined.”

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said the trial was “hasty and apparently unfair” and urged Nasheed be given adequate time to prepare and present his defence during the appeal process.

Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon has since invited the United Nations Secretary General, the Commonwealth, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the EU to send experts to observe Nasheed’s appeal process.

Nasheed’s legal team has suggested that tomorrow’s deadline for an appeal cannot be met, arguing that the court has not supplied the necessary documents.


UK MP Bruce condemns Nasheed’s terrorism sentence, reiterates calls for international sanctions

UK Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commission has called the Criminal Court’s decision to jail former President Mohamed Nasheed on terrorism charges a “blatant and grotesque injustice.”

Condemning the 13 year jail term, Chairman of the commission, MP Fiona Bruce reiterated calls on the international community to consider a drastic range of sanctions against President Abdulla Yameen’s regime.

These include targeted financial sanctions, freezing overseas assets, imposing travel bans, arms embargos, suspension from the Commonwealth and tourism boycotts.

“We need to use every means to put pressure on the Maldivian regime to permit an appeal by Mr Nasheed, release him, drop the charges, begin a political dialogue, and move towards the restoration of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law,” she said.

Bruce also expressed concern over the Criminal Court denying Nasheed legal representation, right to appeal and bail. The court had refused to hear evidence from his defence witnesses, she noted.

The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) last week condemned Bruce’s earlier calls for sanctions.

Referring to Bruce calling Nasheed “a champion of non-violent, peaceful democracy,” the PPM claimed 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.

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.

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