Maldivian prisoners in foreign jails cannot be transferred home due to lack of proper laws

Eleven Maldivian citizens are currently serving prison sentences in foreign countries because the Maldives lacks the proper laws to transfer them back home, local media has reported.

An official from the Foreign Ministry was quoted in local media as saying that the Ministry is “gravely concerned” about the number of people detained in foreign jails, and that it is working on transferring them to jails in the Maldives.

The official stated that a prisoner transfer agreement had been signed with Sri Lanka and India, however the lack of proper laws in regard to prisoner transfer made the process difficult.

“We have worked hard for such a law. It is however, a thing for the Attorney General. We can send away the foreigners in our jails, but to transfer a Maldivian to Maldives, we lack the proper law on how the person may carry out the sentence.

“There are numerous people who we have not been able to transfer because of the lack of such a law. If not, we can transfer them to Maldives,” the official was quoted as saying in Sun Online.

The foreign Ministry, as reported by local media, said that Maldivian prisoners are currently in jails in Syria, Italy, Sri Lanka for drug related cases, one in a Hong Kong prison in relation to a murder case, one in Chennai for an unknown reason and two people arrested in Trivadndrum on drug charges.


CNI nominee agreement “important step forward for the Maldives”: Commonwealth Secretary General

The Commonwealth Secretariat has confirmed that an agreement between the government and former President Mohamed Nasheed has been reached concerning the appointment of a Nasheed nominee to the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI).

The government this week confirmed its acceptance of Ahmed ‘Gahaa’ Saeed, who was formerly both Principal of ‘Ahmadiyya School’ and Deputy Principal of the British College of Sri Lanka.

The CNI was established by President Mohamed Waheed Hassan to investigate the controversial transfer of power that took place on February 7, after Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) claimed the former president was forced out of office in a “coup d’etat“.

The MDP – and subsequently the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) – challenged the credibility of the three member panel appointed by Dr Waheed, and pressured the government into accepting a nominee from Nasheed and a retired foreign judge to serve as co-chair.

The government agreed, but imposed a set of restrictions on Nasheed’s nominee that saw the first 11 candidates rejected.

“I am happy that we finally have a resolution on the issue of Mr Nasheed’s nominee, and I commend both sides for their patience and perseverance in this regard,” said Commonwealth Special Envoy to Maldives, Sir Donald McKinnon, in a statement.

“Now that we have agreement on the reconstituted Commission, I look forward to it starting its work and carrying out its important mandate. I hope also that with its enhanced terms of reference and revised composition, the Commission will be a more broadly acceptable mechanism and will allow the country to move forward,” Sir Donald added.

The Commonwealth noted that in keeping with the commitment signed by the Maldives Government on 15 May 2012, the Commission will be co-chaired by a Commonwealth-funded senior retired judge from Singapore, “and the Commonwealth and the United Nations will each provide an expert adviser for support.”

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma also welcomed the agreement, which he said represented “an important step forward for the Maldives”, and expressed hope that the CNI would be able to conduct an impartial and credible investigation.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also commend the agreement between President Waheed and former President Nasheed “to make the national inquiry body more independent and credible and to find a resolution to the current political crisis.”

In a statement, Ki-moon urged all political parties “to resume immediately their political dialogue, both within and outside of Parliament, in order to find a mutually agreeable way forward on the basis of the Constitution and without jeopardising the democratic gains achieved thus far in the Maldives.”

The last round of All-Party Talks, held at Vice President Waheed Deen’s Bandos Island Resort and Spa last weekend and monitored by UN mediator Pierre Yves Monett, collapsed after parties in the ruling coalition presented the MDP with a list of 30 demands that included “stop practicing black magic and sorcery”, “stop the use of sexual and erotic tools”, and “not walk in groups of more than 10”.