Yameen’s ‘protective custody’ was unconstitutional, rules Civil Court

The Civil Court of the Maldives has ruled that the government’s detention of Abdulla Yameen, People’s Alliance (PA) and half-brother of former President Gayoom, was unconstitutional.

The PA is a minor opposition party which in coalition with the major Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has a parliamentary majority. The government has accused Yameen of bribery and treason, however following his arrest in June the Supreme Court refused to extend the period of his detention.

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) held Yameen in isolation on the presidential retreat of ‘Aarah’ for nine days, releasing him on July 23. The government and the MNDF claimed Yameen’s detention was “for his own protection” after several groups of protesters clashed with police outside the MP’s house.

In July the MNDF took Yameen into protective custody after a group of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters gathered near his house and threw stones and water bottles.

MNDF claimed that Yameen was kept in isolation for his own safety and that he requested MNDF provide him security. However Yameen claimed he was taken by MNDF against his will.

In his verdict, Sameer noted that MNDF did not had the power to detain Yameen in Aarah for his protection under the MNDF law, article number 105 [b] and 243 of the constitution.

Chief Judge of the Civil Court Ali Sameer further ruled that the MNDF did not have the authority to restrict Yameen’s rights and freedoms, as guaranteed under the constitution.

Sameer declared that MNDF violated articles 41, 19, 21, 26, 30, 37, 45 and 46 of the constitution.

Any freedom and right guaranteed by the constitution could only be restricted according to a law enacted under article 16 of the constitution, or following the declaration of a state of emergency, Sameer said.

He added that it was a responsibility of all state institutions to uphold freedoms and rights mentioned in the constitution.