President nominates former ruling party MP to human rights watchdog

President Abdulla Yameen has nominated former MP Shifaq Mufeed ‘Histo,’ Aishath Afreen Mohamed, and Aminath Eenas to the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM).

President’s office spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali said the three nominees have been sent to the parliament for approval.

Mufeed represented the mid-Fuvahmulah constituency as a Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP in the 16th People’s Majlis. He joined the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) in May 2012, several weeks after the ousting of the MDP government on February 7, 2012.

In July 2013, Mufeed quit the PPM and joined the Jumhooree Party and backed its candidate Gasim Ibrahim in the 2013 presidential election.

He did not seek re-election in the May 2014 parliamentary elections and went back to the PPM in March 2015.

Afreen is a former HRCM staff member and the wife of PPM Fares-Maathoda MP Hussain Mohamed Latheef. Eenas works at the gender department.

Some 33 interested candidates submitted applications to the president’s office before a 3:00pm deadline yesterday.

The president’s office invited applications last week as the five-year terms of three members are due to expire in August.

The three members are HRCM president Mariyam Azra, vice president Ahmed Tholal, and Jeehan Mahmood.

PPM MPs have previously accused Tholal and Jeehan of bias towards the opposition MDP, an accusation the pair deny.

The PPM and coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) control a comfortable majority in the parliament with 48 seats in the 85-member house.

In September last year, the Supreme Court initiated suo moto proceedings against the HRCM and charged its members with undermining the constitution and sovereignty of the Maldives by spreading lies about the judiciary in its Universal Periodic Review submission to the UN Human Rights Council.

The HRCM, in its 2014 annual report, described the suo moto proceedings as the biggest challenge the watchdog has faced in its 11-year history.

The commission also noted that the Juvenile Court had accused them of making false allegations in a confidential report into a 15-year-old rape victim’s flogging sentence.

The Supreme Court and Juvenile Court’s charges affected the commission’s independence and ability to carry out its mandate, the report said.