Two judges in ex-president’s terrorism trial appointed to high court

Two criminal court judges who sentenced ex-president Mohamed Nasheed to 13 years in jail in a widely criticised trial have been appointed to the High Court today.

Judges Abdulla Didi and Sujau Usman took the oath of office at a surprise ceremony at the Supreme Court this morning.

Two seats on the nine-member bench have been vacant since the high court’s chief judge was demoted to the juvenile court in August, and another judge retired in February this year.

The appointment of new judges was stalled when the high court in October last year said the evaluation criteria was flawed.

But the Supreme Court on May 28 overturned the ruling, paving the way for Didi and Usman’s appointment.

The third judge in Nasheed’s terrorism trial was Judge Abdul Bari Yoosuf. He was awarded a discounted flat in a newly built luxury apartment complex in Malé.

The former chief judge Ahmed Shareef was suspended in 2013, shortly after the high court suspended court proceedings against Nasheed on charges of arbitrarily detaining a judge during his tenure. The high court was reviewing the composition of the bench overseeing the trial.

The Prosecutor General’s Office in February withdrew the lesser charges of arbitrary detention and filed new terrorism charges against Nasheed at the criminal court.

Evaluation criteria

The high court, in an October 2014 ruling, ruled that the criteria on evaluating a candidate’s educational qualification and experience was flawed and ordered the Judicial Services Commission to amend the criteria.

The 100-point mark sheet awarded 35 points for education, 30 points for experience, 10 points for ethical conduct and 25 points for an interview.

All candidates were to be put to a secret vote in the order of the candidates who received the highest points. The first candidates who received a majority in the vote would be appointed.

In evaluating the educational qualifications, a candidate with a degree in Islamic Shariah or a degree in common law would receive 20 points. But a candidate with a combined degree in Islamic Shariah and common law would receive 25 points.

Candidates with a masters or a doctoral degree would receive an additional five points each.

The criteria appeared to grade candidates on the title of their degrees, the high court said. For example, an individual who had a degree in common law may have done the same number of modules on Islamic Shariah as a candidate who had a combined degree in Islamic Shariah and common law.

The high court noted an individual who had done a degree in common law or Islamic Shariah, and held a masters, would receive 25 points, the same as an individual who had just done a degree in Islamic Shariah and common law.

The evaluation criteria for qualification awarded 30 points for ten years of experience as a judge, meaning it did not differentiate between candidates who had served as a judge for ten years or 20 years.

The appellate court said judges must be awarded points proportionate to the number of years they had served as judges.

The high court also ruled that the JSC cannot hold a secret vote to select candidates arguing the procedure was not transparent.

The Supreme Court, however, dismissed the high court’s ruling

Flawed trial

Foreign governments and international bodies have expressed concern over Nasheed’s 19-day trial, noting he was not given adequate time to prepare defense, barred from calling defense witnesses, and at times, denied legal representation.

The UN special rapporteur on independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul said: “The speed of the proceedings combined with the lack of fairness in the procedures lead me to believe the outcome of the trial may have been pre-determined.”

Amnesty International said Nasheed’s sentencing “after a deeply flawed and politically motivated trial is a travesty of justice.”

The three judges who oversaw Nasheed’s trial also sentenced ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim to 11 years in jail in a weapons smuggling charge.

The retired colonel said the weapons were planted at his home by rogue police officers on the orders of Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb.

Adeeb has denied the allegations.

Despite growing calls for Nasheed and Nazim’s release, President Abdulla Yameen said he has no constitutional authority to release the pair.

Nazim’s appeal at the high court is scheduled to begin on June 21.

Nasheed was unable to file an appeal after the criminal court delayed releasing required case documents within the shortened ten-day appeal period.

The government insists Nasheed can still file an appeal, but his lawyers say the law is silent on late appeals.

They argue that the Supreme Court in January has removed the high court’s discretionary powers to accept late appeals in the ruling that had shortened the 90-day appeal period to ten days.

Photo by Raajje TV


Cameraman ‘forced’ to erase footage of PG meeting judge

A cameraman of the opposition aligned Raajje TV was forced to erase footage of a meeting between prosecutor general Muhthaz Muhsin and criminal court judge Abdul Bari Yousuf at a café, the broadcasting commission has found.

The PG allegedly met Bari at the Café Layaali in Malé on March 8 while the latter was presiding over former president Mohamed Nasheed’s terrorism trial.

The pair have denied the meeting took place, and Muhsin has previously said he would resign immediately if the allegations are proven to be true.

Following an inquiry, the commission determined on Monday that the Raajje TV journalists “faced reasons forcing them to delete the footage.”

“As the commission saw that this was a situation that obstructed press freedom, the members who participated in the meeting to conclude this case decided unanimously to appeal to all parties to ensure that broadcasters and the media as a whole do not face such compulsion in order to maintain an environment where journalists can fully exercise the right guaranteed by the constitution and laws without fear,” reads the summary statement of the report prepared the commission.

The commission also investigated a complaint alleging that Raajje TV disseminated false information as PG Muhsin denied meeting the judge. The commission decided that the station did not violate the broadcasting code of content as it had sought comment from both Muhsin and Bari.

The meeting took place days before a three-judge panel sentenced ex-president Nasheed to 13 years in prison on terrorism charges. Judge Bari also presided over ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim’s trial on weapons smuggling charges.

After Raajje TV reported the alleged meeting, the criminal court barred the station’s reporters from attending hearings. The court accused Raajje TV of “spreading lies about judges, meddling in judges personal affairs and engaging in actions that may harm judges.”

Muhsin meanwhile told Minivan News at the time that the judge was already at the café when he went there for a meal with family members.

However, Raajje TV insisted the pair were sitting at the same table and that Muhsin had walked away when the journalist started asking questions.

At the time, a Raajje TV staff told Minivan News that a group of young men led by Progressive Party of the Maldives MP Ahmed Assad forced the cameramen to delete the footage.

In 2013, the watchdog Judicial Service Commission suspended Judge Bari for over a year pending the outcome of a complaint lodged against him for alleged misconduct.

Although the commission did not reveal any details of the complaint, local media reported that a female attorney from the Prosecutor General’s Office had alleged that Bari had sexually assaulted her.

Bari was cleared of the allegations and resumed duty at Criminal Court on July 24, 2014.


UN rights office urges action to rectify Nasheed’s ‘vastly unfair’ trial

The trial and conviction of former president Mohamed Nasheed was “vastly unfair, arbitrary, and disproportionate,” a senior official at the UN human rights office said yesterday, urging action to resolve a deepening political crisis.

The government, however, remains defiant in the face of growing international and domestic pressure for the release of the opposition leader.

At a UN press briefing in Geneva on Friday, Mona Rishmawi, head of the rule of law, equality and non-discrimination branch, said Nasheed’s 19-day trial was politically motivated and his conviction was reached by judges wielding “incredible discretionary powers.”

“We kind of started to get signals that even the government recognises that something went wrong with the process of the trial,” she was quoted as saying by Reuters.

“We would like to see this translate into concrete political action and see something happening in this case…What is very clear is that the president still has clemency powers.”

Rishmawi visited the Maldives from April 20 to 23 as head of a delegation from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to “examine the broader issues” related to Nasheed’s case.

However, foreign minister Dunya Maumoon told the state broadcaster yesterday that the government will not comply with demands from foreign governments to “meddle” with the judiciary and release a convict.

The European parliament adopted a resolution last week calling on the government to release Nasheed and urged member states to issue warnings on the Maldives’ human rights record on their travel advice websites.

Nasheed’s international lawyers are also seeking a judgment from the UN working group on arbitrary detention declaring his incarceration illegal.

Dunya reportedly said the Maldives would become “enslaved” and lose its independence if the government accepted the demands.

The foreign governments do not wish well for the Maldives, Dunya said, and called on the public to protect the country’s institutions, independence, and sovereignty.

After meetings with officials from the government and the judiciary as well as members of civil society organisations, the UN delegation found that the prosecutor general and judges have “excessive discretionary powers” in the absence of criminal justice procedures and evidence laws, according to a press briefing note from the UN rights office.

Rishmawi noted that lesser charges against Nasheed over the January 2012 military detention of criminal court chief judge Abdulla Mohamed had been withdrawn shortly before his arrest in February.

Nasheed “learnt about the new charge under the Terrorism Act only upon his arrest.”

He was found guilty on March 13 and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

The criminal court denied Nasheed “the possibility to prepare and present adequate defence, including calling defence witnesses, and examining the evidence against him.”

“What we saw is that the rules have been really changed to lead to a certain result,” she said.

The discretionary powers do not work for the benefit of a fair trial, which she said was the main issue at stake and suggested that “international pressure could help fix flaws” in the judiciary.

The briefing note added that the Maldivian judiciary is “is perceived as politicised, inadequate and subject to external influence” and referred to the convictions of former defence ministers Mohamed Nazim and Tholhath Ibrahim, who also “received disproportionate sentences in a flawed trials.”

The UN human rights office urged the government to ensure an environment conducive for political dialogue, allow the exercise of the rights of free expression and assembly, and ensure Nasheed’s safety in custody.

Rishmawi met the former president in a “temporary location” before he was transferred to the high-security Maafushi jail, and described Nasheed as thoughtful and humorous.

“But I wouldn’t say he was relaxed. He knew he was facing 13 years in prison and he knew that his situation is really really difficult and he worried a lot about his safety,” she said.


Government slams UK lord’s op-ed on Nasheed trial

The government has responded furiously to a Huffington Post opinion piece  by a member of Britain’s House of Lords about the trial of former president Mohamed Nasheed, calling it inaccurate, one-sided, and “an act of gross irresponsibility”.

Lord David Alton’s article called for targeted sanctions and a boycott of tourist resorts linked to the government following Nasheed’s conviction on terrorism charges.

In an open letter to Lord Alton from the Maldives High Commission to the UK, the government said that as a member of the All-Party British-Maldives Parliamentary Group the independent cross-bench life peer had been kept regularly informed about the opposition leader’s trial.

“Nevertheless, you have decided to comment on the trial in such an inaccurate and public manner, that it will further exacerbate the domestic ramifications of the case for our young democracy. This is incredibly disappointing,” reads the letter.

The government was “a firm defender of freedom of speech,” but “it is our opinion that your authorship of an op-ed piece of such inaccuracy and one-sidedness was an act of gross irresponsibility,” it continued.

The response forms part of a diplomatic offensive by the government aiming to counter criticism of Nasheed’s trial by the United Nations, Amnesty International and several governments.

Lord Alton described Nasheed’s terrorism trial as “an extraordinary farce” and a “gross miscarriage of justice” in a piece entitled “We must send the Maldivian regime a clear, unambiguous and robust message: Their behaviour is unacceptable”, published on March 22.

The op-ed contained a “litany of inaccuracies,” the government contended, whilst uninformed commentary in the international media “only serves to perpetuate the spread of misinformation and baseless rumour”.

The High Commission’s letter noted that Nasheed was charged under the 1990 Anti-Terrorism Act, for ordering the military to “unlawfully and unconstitutionally abduct Chief Judge Abdullah in January 2012.”

“The government of Maldives would like to make it clear that there is no conspiracy by the government to unwarrantedly convict Mr Nasheed,” it added, reiterating that the executive could “neither interfere nor influence any decision of the Prosecutor General or the judiciary.”

Information wars

The High Commission repeated demonstrably false claims in letters from the government sent both to stakeholders in India and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The letter falsely claimed that Nasheed was presented before a judge a day after his arrest for “a procedural remand hearing” whilst his lawyers were not present as they had failed to register.

However, Nasheed was brought to court for the first hearing of his trial after his lawyers had been told they should have registered two days in advance, despite being unaware of the trial until the opposition leader’s arrest the previous day.

The letter suggested that Lord Alton confused “allegations that two of [the] judges were witnesses for the prosecution with the court’s refusal to hear Mr Nasheed’s defence witnesses.”

The prosecutor general and two of the three presiding judges were at Judge Abdullah’s home at the time of his arrest and had testified in a 2012 Human Rights Commission investigation.

Meanwhile, the presiding judges later refused to call any of Nasheed’s witnesses to the stand, claiming they did not appear to “negate” the prosecution’s case.

The letter also dismissed Lord Alton’s claim that police manhandled Nasheed – which was widely reported and shown on television – insisting that police followed standard procedure.

Lord Alton had meanwhile called for “targeted sanctions” against the Maldives, suspension from the Commonwealth, and Nasheed’s nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

“The European Union should freeze the assets of senior regime officials and their crony backers. A travel ban should be imposed on senior regime leaders,” he wrote.

“And a carefully targeted tourism boycott, aimed at resorts owned by regime associates, is needed. Sir Richard Branson has already called for such a boycott, and others should join that call.”


Government sends out letters to international stakeholders with demonstrably false claims

Letters from the government to stakeholders in India as well as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights concerning the trial and conviction of former President Mohamed Nasheed contains several demonstrably false claims.

An open letter dated March 19 – sent from the Maldives High Commission in India to major political actors – along with a letter from Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights were recently leaked online and reported on by local media.

A ‘Timeline of key events in the trial’ in the letter to Indian stakeholders read: “On 23 February 2015, former President Nasheed was given the opportunity to appoint legal counsel, when he was presented before the judge of the Criminal Court for a procedural remand hearing in relation to the amended and re-filed charges.”

“His legal team was not present at this hearing because they had failed to register themselves as per Criminal Court regulations.”

The claim is false as Nasheed was arrested around 2:30pm on February 22 and brought to the Criminal Court for the first hearing of the terrorism trial at 4:00pm the next day, where charges were read out and he was given three days to appoint lawyers.

Nasheed’s lawyers held a press conference at noon on February 23, announcing they were unable to represent the opposition leader, as the Criminal Court had told them they should have registered two days in advance despite being unaware of the trial until the opposition leader’s arrest the previous day.

Moreover, while remand hearings take place within 24 hours of an arrest, Nasheed was brought to court after the 24-hour period lapsed.

At the same hearing, judges ruled Nasheed be held in a location determined by the Home Ministry until the end of the trial. He was subsequently held in police custody at the Dhoonidhoo Island Detention Center.

The High Commission’s letter also justified Criminal Court’s refusal to grant adequate time to prepare for defence stating the court “determined that all the relevant documents relevant for the defence had been issued as far back as mid-2012, and that no new evidence was being put forward by the state prosecutors.”

But Nasheed’s defence team quit half-way through the trial after they were unable to view documentary evidence submitted by the state as some evidence CDs were left blank or were dysfunctional.

“The court repeatedly reminded former President Nasheed to engage legal counsel or the bench would consider that he waived his right to counsel, but advised former President Nasheed that he could engage counsel at any time,” the High Commission’s letter stated.

However, in subsequent hearings, the court refused Nasheed’s repeated request for between ten and 15 days to appoint new counsel and concluded proceedings four days later.

“Rushed process”

Meanwhile, a letter from Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein was also leaked online.

In a statement on March 18, the UN human rights chief said Nasheed was convicted after “a rushed process that appears to contravene the Maldives’ own laws and practices and international fair trial standards in a number of respects.”

Asserting the independence of the Prosecutor General and judiciary, Dunya insisted that criminal proceedings against Nasheed were fair, transparent and in accordance with the Constitution.

“I can therefore assure Your Excellency that the independence of the judiciary and the fairness of due legal process remain as sacrosanct in the case against [Nasheed] as they would for any other Maldivian citizen,” the letter stated.

“I can also further assure Your Excellency that the government of Maldives will continue to ensure the inviolability of a citizen’s right to a fair trial, insulated from political interference.”

Dunya also falsely claimed that Nasheed was presented before the Criminal Court on February 23 for a remand hearing.

“His legal team was not present at this hearing because none of them had registered their right of audience for the case,” the letter stated.

While the High Commissioner stated that Nasheed was “constrained from calling witnesses” and noted a conflict of interest as “judges in the case as well as the Prosecutor General were witnesses in the investigation,” Dunya claimed both points were “indeed incorrect.”

Dunya said Nasheed had called two of the presiding judges and the PG as witnesses for the defence.

“Mr Nasheed’s request was naturally overruled by the bench on the basis that these officials could not be called as witnesses on evidentiary rules of relevancy and probative value,” the letter stated.

The PG, and two of the three presiding judges were at Judge Abdulla’s home at the time of his arrest and had testified in a 2012 Human Rights Commission of the Maldives investigation. The PG’s case is built on the HRCM investigation.


The government meanwhile denied a “conspiracy to unwarrantedly convict” Nasheed to prevent the opposition leader from contesting the 2018 presidential election.

In the open letter to stakeholders in India, the government also assured that Nasheed was “afforded a free and fair trial in full accordance with the Constitution and laws” contrary to “speculation and misrepresentation of facts” by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

It suggested that Nasheed’s participation in the 2013 presidential election “amply proves there are no conspiracy theories to eliminate him from the political arena.”

The administration of President Abdulla Yameen could “neither interfere nor influence” any decision by the independent Prosecutor General or the judiciary, it added.

“The independence of the judiciary and the fairness of due legal process have been as sacrosanct in the case against former President Nasheed as they would have been for any other Maldivian citizen. The Maldives government will continue to ensure the inviolability of a citizen’s right to a fair trial, insulated from political interference,” reads the letter.


Maldives will “emerge victorious over adversarial states,” says President Yameen

The Maldives will “emerge victorious over adversarial states,” President Abdulla Yameen has declared, slamming alleged foreign interference in domestic affairs following the conviction of former President Mohamed Nasheed on terrorism charges.

Addressing supporters at a Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) rally last night, President Yameen reiterated that exercising authority over either the Prosecutor General or the judiciary would threaten constitutional separation of powers.

“God willing, God Almighty will grant us just rulers. And God will grant our state the courage to remain steadfast in Islam and the guidance of Islam. And God willing, we will emerge victorious over adversarial states,” Yameen concluded his remarks by saying.

“We are on the righteous path. We will not go astray. God willing, no matter how small, this Maldivian state will have the courage to hold fast to Islamic guidance.”

President Yameen’s remarks follow international concern over the lack of due process in the rushed trial of the opposition leader. Nasheed was found guilty of ordering the military to “forcibly abduct” Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012 and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and the UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Lawyers and Judges Gabriela Knaul last week urged the Maldives to guarantee that Nasheed’s appeal would respect the most stringent fair trial and due process standards.

Yameen went on to say that other countries believed the Maldives does not enforce the law, “but we are telling those states that the law is enforced in the Maldives the same as it is in those states.”

Cases were tried through independent courts and sentences were implemented after an appeal process, he added.

Trials should be conducted swiftly to ensure justice, he continued, claiming that terrorism cases involving up to 1,500 defendants were completed in 48 hours in England.

“We don’t go criticising the mechanisms there. And we don’t request getting into the courtrooms there,” he said.

“But when it’s the Maldives, because we are a small country, [they] want to meddle in everything we do. No. That day is in the past. The Maldives, this Maldivian state, will no longer give room for that.”

By calling on the president to release Nasheed, Yameen said both the opposition and foreign parties were inviting the president to commit an “impeachable offence”.

The president was not responsible for either the PG’s decision to prosecute or the court’s verdict, he said.

Exercising oversight over the PG was the task of parliament’s Independent Institutions Committee, he continued, questioning why opposition MPs have not summoned the PG so far.

The president ordering the PG not to prosecute or withdraw charges in a specific case would amount to “obstruction of justice” and violation of the constitution, Yameen said.

Related to this story:

Nasheed’s terrorism trial “a mockery” of Constitution, verdict “may have been pre-determined,” says Knaul

UN human rights chief expresses strong concern over “hasty and apparently unfair” Nasheed trial

US, EU, and UK concerned over lack of due process in Nasheed trial

Respect Criminal Court verdict, says President Yameen

Former President Nasheed found guilty of terrorism, sentenced to 13 years in prison

Foreigners cannot meddle in domestic affairs, declares President Yameen


Nasheed’s terrorism trial “a mockery” of Constitution, verdict “may have been pre-determined,” says Knaul

Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s terrorism trial “made a mockery” of the Maldives Constitution, and violated the country’s international human rights obligations, the UN special rapporteur on independence of judges and lawyers has said.

In a damning statement issued on Thursday, Gabriela Knaul highlighted several irregularities in the opposition leader’s rushed trial, and said: “The speed of the proceedings combined with the lack of fairness in the procedures lead me to believe the outcome of the trial may have been pre-determined.”

Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail on March 13 after the Criminal Court found him guilty of “forcefully abducting” Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

The surprise trial began one day after Nasheed was arrested on February 22, and was completed in just 11 short hearings over 19 days.

“The series of due process violations that were reported to me since Mr. Nasheed’s arrest on 22 February is simply unacceptable in any democratic society,” Knaul said.

Warning of a “seriously deteriorating situation in the independence of the justice system,” the expert urged the Maldives to guarantee that Nasheed’s appeal would respect the most stringent fair trial and due processes.

The Maldivian authorities must allow the public, including international observers who were arbitrarily denied access to the Criminal Court, to attend appeal hearings, she said.

Nasheed’s lawyers, however, have already raised concern over alleged attempts by the Criminal Court to block the former president from launching an appeal.

With one week having passed since the verdict was issued, the Criminal Court failed to release any relevant trial documents until yesterday (March 19), which lawyers say are necessary for Nasheed to meet the ten day appeal deadline provided in new regulations enacted by the Supreme Court.

Selective justice

The Maldives’ decision to try Nasheed on terrorism, while his predecessor Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has not had to answer for any of the serious human rights violations documented during his term is “troubling for a country whose constitution enshrines the independence and impartiality of the justice system as a prerequisite for democracy and the rule of law,” Knaul also said.

She urged the Maldives to consider the recommendations she had put forth in a 2013 report, including revising the composition of the judicial watchdog body the Judicial Services Commission, proper investigation of judges’ misconduct, enforcing the judges’ code of conduct and increasing the judiciary’s financial and human resources.

“The delicate issue of accountability for past human rights violations also needs to be addressed,” she noted at the time.

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Wednesday raised similar concerns as Knaul over Nasheed’s trial, including the Criminal Court having denied Nasheed adequate time to prepare defence and a refusal to call defence witnesses.

The experts have also expressed concern over the Criminal Court’s decision not to wait until Nasheed sought new legal representation when his lawyers resigned half-way through the trial.

Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin and two judges of the three-member bench providing witness statements during a 2012 investigation into Judge Abdulla’s arrest amounted to conflict of interest, both Knaul and Zeid have said

“Clearly no one should be above the law, and the trial of a former Head of State would be a major challenge for any government. But in a polarised context, and given the long-standing serious concerns about the independence and politicisation of the judiciary in the Maldives, this case should have been handled with much greater care and transparency,” Zeid said on Wednesday.

Related to this story:

UN human rights chief expresses strong concern over “hasty and apparently unfair” Nasheed trial

Former President Nasheed found guilty of terrorism, sentenced to 13 years in prison

US, EU, and UK concerned over lack of due process in Nasheed trial

Respect Criminal Court verdict, says President Yameen

“This is not a court of law. This is injustice,” Nasheed tells the Criminal Court

Judge Abdulla suspected of involvement in “contract killing,” says Nasheed

A justice system in crisis: UN Special Rapporteur’s report


Home minister assures Nasheed’s safety and welfare in custody

Former President Mohamed Nasheed will be incarcerated in a 264-square foot furnished “prison apartment” in Maafushi jail with air-conditioning, a sitting room, a television and VCD player, Home Minister Umar Naseer has said.

Naseer revealed in a tweet this morning that the opposition leader would also have a 1,087-square foot garden and would be able to “live with other inmate-friends.”

“The government guarantees the safety, welfare, and protection of former [President] Nasheed while in custody,” Naseer tweeted last night.

“He’ll be treated with respect and dignity.”

Following the Criminal Court sentencing Nasheed to 13 years in jail on Friday night, Naseer said he had asked police to hold the former president in Dhoonidhoo detention centre “until a special unit is constructed in Maafushi prison.”

Nasheed was found guilty on terrorism charges over the January 2012 military detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

However, the office of former President Nasheed released a statement today claiming the cell being prepared to house the opposition leader was in an area of the jail deemed unfit for human habitation.

“The use of the cell being prepared in Maafushi jail was discontinued after the Human Rights Commission of Maldives and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent determined in 2009 that it was unfit to hold people,” the statement read.

“The toilet of the cell currently being prepared is inside the cell. It was built such that unclean odours and bacteria fans out to the whole cell. It is adjacent to the jail’s garbage dump. Germs, bacteria and unclean air constantly circulate inside the cell.”

The Maldives Correctional Services – which manages jails and detention centres – functions under the home ministry.

Home Ministry Media Coordinator Thazmeel Abdul Samad told Minivan News today that he was not aware of the location of the cell within the jail.

“It is being built in the most appropriate way to hold a former president of Maldives,” he insisted, adding that Nasheed would “not feel any discomfort.”

Thazmeel said construction of the cell would be complete within a week or ten days.

The office of the former president meanwhile contended that the the home ministry’s arrangements were in violation of the Constitution as well as the Maldives’ obligations under the the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

“This government is making arrangements to unjustly cause serious harm to President Nasheed,” the statement alleged, adding that preventing inmates from interacting with others or from being seen by anyone was also against the domestic anti-torture law.

“We have received information of the Ministry of Home Affairs preparing a good place to hold President Nasheed and making arrangements to keep other inmates with him,” it continued.

“However, the cell is being prepared in an area in Maafushi jail that has been deemed unfit for human habitation. And as the other inmates to be kept with President Nasheed so as not to keep him in isolation would be determined by this government, we are extremely concerned over the threat to President Nasheed’s safety and security.”

Related to this story

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PPM condemns statement by British MP Fiona Bruce

The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has condemned a statement issued by British MP Fiona Bruce, chairperson of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, in which she urged the international community to consider imposing sanctions on senior Maldivian government officials.

Bruce had called the terrorism trial of former President Mohamed Nasheed a “grotesque travesty of justice.”

Referring to Bruce calling Nasheed “a champion of non-violent, peaceful democracy,” the PPM claimed in a statement released in English last week that 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.

“If Chairperson Bruce wants to adhere to her unfounded accusations, we urge her to show proof of any ‘physical mistreatment’ of Nasheed while in custody, not ‘bandwagon’ without basic ‘fact checks.’ We also wish to tell her that, according to the constitution, the government cannot drop the charges against Nasheed, or anyone else.”

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.”