Maldives omitted from Corruption Perceptions Index for third year

The Maldives has been omitted from Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for the third successive year.

“The Maldives fell a dramatic 57 places since it first appeared in the CPI between 2008 and 2011. Since then, there have been no positive systemic changes to the governance system,” explained Transparency Maldives (TM) Advocacy and Communications Manager Aiman Rasheed.

“The Maldives scored a lowly 2.5 on a scale of 0-10 – 10 being least corrupt and 0 most corrupt – in 2011. There have been no developments to suggest that the situation may have improved this year even if Maldives were to appear in the index,” he added.

In order to be included in the index, Transparency International must collect data from a minimum of three expert sources – usually from international organisations with expertise in governance of business climate analysis.

The widely used indicator of corruption again ranked Denmark as the country with the least perceived corruption problems out of 175 states in this year’s index.

Somalia and North Korea were ranked bottom for the second consecutive year.

After appearing in the CPI – published every year since 1995 – for the first time in 2007, the Maldives appeared in the index until 2011, when a ranking of 134th prompted TM to describe the country’s “grand scale” corruption as “systemic”.

Potential sources for the study this year included the World Bank, the IMD World Competitiveness Center, Freedom House, the Economist Intelligence Unit, and the Bertelsmann Foundation.

TM’s Aiman Rasheed noted that the interaction between source and government institutions was crucial, with data only being provided from two sources in recent years.

TM’s own Global Corruption Barometer Survey – released shortly after the release of the 2013 CPI – found that 83 percent of people questioned felt corruption had increased or stayed the same during the past two years.

The survey of 1,002 people – randomly selected and interviewed by telephone – showed respondents to perceive the People’s Majlis and political parties to be the country’s most corrupt organisations.

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) – perceived as  ‘extremely corrupt’ by 34 percent of respondents – immediately labelled the results of survey a “baseless” attack on its reputation, calling on local media not to publish such information.

A recent high profile case of alleged corruption involved the misappropriation of US$6 million in a deal involving tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb.

The minister – also deputy leader of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) – dismissed evidence published by the auditor general as politically motivated. PPM sponsored amendments to the Audit Act have subsequently resulted in the replacement of Niyaz Ibrahim as auditor general.

Audit reports released this year – concerning the financial years 2011 and 2012 – showed financial transactions worth MVR2.2 billion (US$142 million) had been conducted illegally by state institutions and corporations.

Niyaz told state television, however, that releasing audit reports had become “futile” as the accountability process had so far failed.

Evidence of a crisis of confidence in public institutions, revealed in a 2013 democracy survey, was bolstered by a recent International Foundation for Electoral Systems study which found that one in three Maldivians were offered bribes for their votes or witnessed vote buying in the March 2014 parliamentary polls.

The recently introduced Special Economic Zones Act – promising relaxed regulations for large foreign investments – has been criticised by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party as paving the way for corruption. Both the Maldives Monetary Authority governor and the IMF have noted the importance of transparency in the regulation of the zones.

Related to this story

“Systemic failure to address corruption”: Transparency Maldives

Transparency Maldives reveals growing perception of corruption

Maldives absent from Corruption Perceptions Index for second consecutive year

Analysis: President Yameen’s first year – Towards good governance?


Maldives must empower Anti-Corruption Commission, says Transparency International

The Maldives must empower anti-corruption agencies to investigate and prosecute cases in order to fight corruption, says Transparency International.

“Maldives and Sri Lanka must ensure that their anti-corruption agencies are granted ‘suo motto’ powers to instigate both corruption investigations and prosecutions on their own initiative without prior government approval,” suggested the Fighting Corruption in South Asia (FCSA) report released today.

At present, the Maldives Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) can only initiate investigations, but not prosecutions. Instead, it has to forward cases to the Prosecutor General for any further action to be taken.

Analysing 70 institutions across 6 countries, the anti-corruption NGO concluded that a “serious lack of political will on the part of governments to make laws work” was hampering the regional fight against corruption.

The report also called on the government to enforce the Right to Information Law and ensure protection of whistleblowers.

Independence and Accountability

Although the report advocated greater independence for oversight bodies, it highlighted the need to balance independence with accountability.

Too much of either can lead to abuse of power, the report noted, arguing limited judicial accountability has resulted in the Maldives Supreme Court exerting excessive use of power over other branches of government.

One example that the FCSA uses to demonstrate their findings is the Maldives Supreme Court’s much-criticised decision to convict the president of the Elections Commission Fuwad Thowfeek for contempt of court earlier this year. The apex court acted as prosecutor, judge and jury during the trial.

The Maldivian Anti Corruption Commission itself has raised concerns over a Supreme Court rulings, in which the apex court ruled the body does not have the authority to prevent the state from entering into questionable contracts.

ACC President Hassan Luthfee has said a ruling on a legal battle involving Department of Immigration, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), and Malaysian IT firm Nexbis in 2012 had rendered the organisation powerless.

“If this institution is simply an investigative body, then there is no purpose for our presence,” he said.

“Even the police investigate cases, don’t they? So it is more cost effective for this state to have only the police to investigate cases instead of the ACC,” Luthfee said.

Referring the court’s, Luthfee said the ACC had no power to prevent corruption, arguing that anti-corruption bodies in other countries had powers of investigation, prevention, and awareness raising.

“If an institution responsible for fighting corruption does not have these powers then it is useless,” he said.

Right to Information

Another key finding highlighted in the FCSA report was what it regarded as the weak implementation of the Freedom of Information act, ratified earlier this year.

“In Maldives, although the new law has only just been passed, there are concerns about the level of citizens’ awareness of their rights, an issue which will need to be addressed as a matter of urgency,” the report states.

Under the act, an appointed commissioner has the power enforce a fine on information officers who deliberately refuse access to information. The President’s Office has today called for applications for the post which must be filled by mid July according to the new law.

The FCSA report categorises both the Maldives’ capacity to implement the law, and citizens’ awareness of the law as “weak”.

Additionally, the report highlighted the safety and protection of whistleblowers as a being major barrier to anti-corruption activities in the Maldives.

Noting the Right to Information Act provides protection to whistleblowers, the FCSA report called for more comprehensive whistleblower legislation with a broader scope covering both the public and private sectors.

Aiman Rasheed, Advocacy and Communications Manager at local Transparency branch Transparency Maldives said one the key findings of the report was the reversal of judicial reform after the February 2012 transfer of power.

“We had a new government set up. It was a positive environment. That has been reversed,” Aiman said.

He noted a “huge gap” between current systems and practices as politicians enjoyed an atmosphere of impunity following the controversial removal of President Mohamed Nasheed.

He went on to note that public engagement in holding officials accountable have been hindered by the lack of public debate in the local media.

“We have published a lot of reports on the public opinions of corruption, but we don’t see these being discussed in the media,” Aiman said.


Comment: Corruption must not capsize a sinking state

This article first appeared on the Transparency International blog. Republished with permission.

In 2011 the then-president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, held a televised cabinet meeting underwater. Armed with oxygen tanks and waterproof pens, ministers signed a document calling on countries to slash their carbon emissions.

Nasheed also pledged to make the Maldives fossil fuel-free by 2020, and announced his intent to buy land in neighbouring India or Sri Lanka so that Maldivians could repatriate rather than become climate refugees.

Nasheed’s motives were clear. The Maldives’ archipelago looks like paradise defined – sand-laced islands sprinkle the Indian Ocean like a starry sky of azure blue. But its peace is precarious. Comprised of nearly 1,200 low-lying islands, it has no in-built life raft to the rising waters and fierce, frequent storms that global warming portends.

When the 2004 tsunami hit the Maldives its waves were barely a metre high. One hundred people died and 11,000 were displaced.

Maldivians have not been relocated. Instead they are left with the task of transforming their country into a fortress – building dykes, reinforcing coastlines and safeguarding natural coral reef defences, all the while forging the transition to a low-carbon lifestyle. This won’t come cheap. In 2010 government estimates suggested that that US$279.5 million would be needed for climate change adaptation by 2020.

Climate money is a dove of hope to those whose skies and seas are turning against them. The trouble is that in many cases it is entering countries and sectors characterised by risk.

The last time the Maldives featured on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index – in 2011 – it scored 2.5 out of a possible 10, alongside Cameroon, and up one decimal place from Russia. Ninety-six per cent of Maldivians surveyed in our 2013 Global Corruption Barometer believed that their government was run by a few elites acting in their own interests.

These statistics are brought to life through tales of cronyism and back-door dealing. In 2011, the Maldives’ Anti-Corruption Commission began investigations into a US$21 million public infrastructure project aimed at developing a stretch of coastline.

A construction company had reportedly been hired to carry out the work without following the required procedures. The company in question was co-owned by Moosa Manik, chair of the country’s ruling party, meaning that, in the words of the Anti-Corruption Commission, the project would “illegally benefit a particular party”.

Rural communities left clueless

Against this backdrop, Transparency Maldives has been investigating possible entry points for corruption in the climate sector. Their new report, ‘An Assessment of Climate Finance Governance’, articulates a number of concerns.

For a start, government information on climate projects, their budgets and progress can be hard to come by in the Maldives. Accessibility is improving, but it will often involve official written requests, persistent phone calls and visits to ministries. This creates a situation of stark information asymmetry.

In the capital Malé, citizens with time, resources or friends in high places may acquire information. Further afield, communities whose water supply is being desalinated will likely be clueless about what to expect from the project or how much it’s worth.

Anyone tenacious or privileged enough to access government data will then face the unenviable task of making sense of it. Information made available was often out of date or inconsistent – the names of projects changed from year to year in the national budget, as had financial data.

Frustratingly, different ministries have their own systems for reporting and disclosure, resulting in very divergent accounts of how much climate money is being spent where.

As for where climate funds end up, some Maldivians have questioned why certain islands have been favoured over others. In the absence of clear criteria for project selection, it could be that a decision-maker is guided by personal or political concerns rather than factors such as population size or climate vulnerability.

Discretionary decision-making is a problem further downstream, too. Implementing agencies in the Maldives tend to appraise their own projects rather than reporting to a central monitoring body, meaning that they are effectively their own auditor, police and judge.

Transparency Maldives’ report isn’t entirely damning. In some respects the Maldives emerges as a standard-setter when compared to other countries – in its attempt to maintain a centralised database on all national development projects, for instance. Systems like this should be promoted, in the Maldives and elsewhere. Other mechanisms merit attention of a different kind – be that extra staff, increased information disclosure, third-party monitoring or more rigorous procedures for consulting the public on their needs and ideas for climate development.

The prospect of a stormy sea is significant when you live 1.5 metres above sea level, and the furthest from the coast you could possibly be is three kilometres. Both are true of Maldivians.

A country that is bracing itself for disaster needs to know that the dykes will hold when the storm surge bears down upon them. It cannot afford for bribery, nepotism or embezzlement that equates to shoddy workmanship, cheap materials or phantom projects. Our chapter’s research will, we hope, act as a prophylactic to such eventualities. Tackled now, systemic or institutional shortcomings might be shored up before the Maldivian cabinet has no choice but to meet underwater.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


Research reveals lack of transparency in Maldives climate finance governance

The “Assessment of Climate Finance Governance in Maldives” report published by local NGO Transparency Maldives (TM) has revealed a number of concerns in climate finance governance.

The report indicates the Maldives has been pledged US$ 99,280,073 in grants, US$ 20,380,000 in loans and US$ 48,506,276 from multi-lateral and bilateral donors, for co-financing projects from 2008 through 2015.

Projects focus mainly on mitigation, adaptation and capacity building, and cover a wide range of areas from waste management, conservation, water resource management to education and development of renewable, clean and sustainable energy.

It was conducted as part of the “Climate Finance Integrity Programme” piloted by Transparency International in six countries to monitor the raising, managing and governance climate related finance.

TM noted the need for increased transparency in the decision making process, including the selection of islands for different projects to allowing civil sector groups to monitor and review priorities.

According to the report, project locations are prioritized by implementing agencies such as Ministry of Energy and Environment without the involvement of donor agencies.

As the criteria for island selection is not visible in any records, “there is a strong incentive for political maneuvering in island selection,” the report said. This issue is not specific to climate change projects but seems to be the general trend, it added.

Transparency Maldives has proposed the establishment of a clearly identified and comprehensive climate policy and strategy to “ensure selection of projects is aligned to strategic goals and not to personal or political gain”.

The NGO also took issue with the constant reorganization of decision making bodies, their members, hierarchy and mandates, arguing “in cases of institutional changes it is important to disclose the hierarchy of decision-making processes, mandates and who is responsible for overseeing the work of each committee.”

The report also noted “serious concerns” in the availability of accurate and up-to-date information on projects and their progress. The public is said to have no access to a comprehensive list of climate projects at present.

A government website created in 2009 to increase transparency is still being managed by the President’s Office instead of the central monitoring agency, the Office of Programmes and Projects (OPP), as planned. Further, the website is not regularly updated, the report said.

Discrepancies in available financial information of projects from different sources was also reported. “It remains a challenge for ordinary citizens to gain access to information from the Government of Maldives with many restrictions included in accessing information,” the reported said.

Another issue highlighted was insufficient external monitoring of climate change projects, mainly because of the shortage of information reported to the OPP.

Due to this, the reporting of monitoring and evaluation of climate projects is done solely by the implementing agencies such as the ministry.

Donors must encourage project reporting to a national monitoring agency to increase transparency and public access to such information, the TM said.

Weakness in oversight was also mentioned in the report, referring mainly to the Auditor General’s Office (AGO) and Anti-corruption Commission (ACC).

Donors have limited access to some AGO documents due to language barriers, while implementation of recommendations in audit reports are not followed up until the next audit, the report said.

No complaints concerning climate finance have been lodged to or investigated by ACC, however, the ACC has provided recommendations on instances where inefficiencies could risk corruption. But the report found the  ACC also does not monitor the implementation of their recommendations.

The assessment highlighted that it was “not clearly evident” whether the parliament reviewed or analyzed reports submitted by independent institution or the OPP, as no such reviews have been published.

TM has proposed a number of recommendations for specific parties involved in climate finance governance, and plans to conduct a more in-depth governance assessment of the Ministry of Environment and Energy – the institution which receives the largest portion of climate finance projects.

The report can be downloaded from here.


Maldives absent from Corruption Perceptions Index for second consecutive year

The Maldives has again failed to appear on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) after the anti-corruption organisation was unable to secure the minimum required information necessary.

“We didn’t make the index as the required minimum of three sources of information was not received by TI,” explained Transparency Maldives’ Advocacy and Communications Manager Aiman Rasheed.

The CPI scores are base on a minimum of three expert sources – usually from international organisations with expertise in governance of business climate analysis. Examples include the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Global Insight, or the Asian Development Bank.

Transparency International was only able to obtain information from two sources for this year’s list.

Asked if he thought the absence of the Maldives from the CPI for a second year would have a negative impact on perceptions of the country, Rasheed was dubious.

“My honest opinion is that it can hardly get any worse, we’re already in the bottom of the pile. The developments in 2012 and 2013 do not appear to have improved the public sector in terms of reducing corruption and empowering those who fight corruption,” he said.

He did admit, however, that the Maldives failing to appear on the index for two straight years would raise questions, though he stressed that multiple organisations involved in the collection and analysis of the required data made the assignation of blame to individual bodies unhelpful.

“The problem is that Maldives is a small country and the interactions of international institutions – from which the data is derived – may be limited, as well as the required information may not have been obtained in time, or the data that eventually do come through may not be utilized due to data quality,” continued Rasheed.

After moving up to 134th (of 182 listed states) in the 2011 index, the Maldives did not appear on the 2012 list.

Following the Maldives 2011 appearance in the list, Rasheed described the corruption in the Maldives as “grand corruption” when compared to smaller lever problems elsewhere in the region.

“In the Maldives there is corruption across the judiciary, parliament and members of the executive, all of it interlinked, and a systemic failure of the systems in place to address this. That why we score so low.”

The interference of the judiciary in this year’s presidential elections was roundly criticised internationally after the initial poll was annulled following a questionable Supreme Court ruling regarding fraudulent votes.

This year’s lists consists of just 175 states, with Denmark , Finland and New Zealand taking the top spots for the third year running.

The two positions at the bottom of the table were again occupied by North Korea and Somalia, again for the third consecutive year.

The CPI measures perceived levels of public sector corruption across the globe and is the most widely used indicator of corruption used worldwide.


Week in review: October 5 – 12

After nearly two weeks of deliberations, the Maldives Supreme Court this week chose to annul the first round of the presidential election. The 4 to 3 decision hinged on a police report – seen only by the judges – that suggested 5,600 ineligible votes had been cast.

In the dissenting opinion, three of the seven member bench questioned the credibility of the evidence presented as well as questioning the court’s authority to rule on the case.

After consulting with government representatives on the repeated first round – scheduled for October 19 – in compliance with the court’s ruling, the EC was quickly told that it’s re-registration process had not followed the verdict.

The commission was ordered to re-start the  entire process, putting the new polling date in doubt.

The latest court ruling came after the UK’s Foreign Secretary William Hague had stated as “imperative” that there were no further election delays. The week had begun with the UN Security Council being warned that democratic gains were “under threat” in the Maldives.

The Security Council was briefed on the growing instability in the country, an impression that will not have been altered by further signs of tension within the MNDF this week. More suspensions followed the circulation of a ‘letter of concern’ by senior officers last week.

Online speculation forced prominent lawyer Shaaheen Hameed and Defence Minister Retired Colonel Mohamed Nazim to deny rumours of an impending military takeover.

The Maldives Democracy Network, alongside the International Federation of Human Rights, were the first NGO’s to condemn the Supreme Court’s verdict – calling the decision “materially baseless”.

The decision was quickly followed by attempts from certain political and civil society representatives to bar presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed from subsequent polls – a move condemned by incumbent President Dr Mohamed Waheed.

Waheed himself received a stern rebuke from Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird’s office after complaining about the treatment of his own foreign minister at the recent CMAG meeting.

Nasheed and his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) chose to interpret the first round’s annulment and the setting of a new date as a “huge victory”, bringing to an end its eleven consecutive nights of protest – during which 65 people were arrested.

Meanwhile, his political opponents began their campaigns with talk of fielding a single candidate in the (new) first round.

Campaigning on Jumhooree Party candidate Gasim Ibrahim’s Sun Island resort seems to have been continuous, with employees revealing details of multiple dismissals based on political affiliation.

The Prosecutor General’s Office assured the EC that it would receive full protection after it received a complaint regarding the behaviour of security services last month.

The failure of the police to stop an arson attack that destroyed MDP aligned Raajje TV this week – despite having been forewarned – brought stinging criticism from Reporters Without Borders.

The station was able to return to air with donated equipment just hours after the attack, whilst military officers were stationed outside all other media outlets.

The intimidation of civil society groups in recent weeks prompted concern from both the Maldives Human Rights Commission as well as Transparency International, whose Maldivian chapter has received threats as well as promises of investigation from the government.

Local NGO Advocating the Rights of Children (ARC) told Minivan News this week of its concern that child protection commitments undertaken by successive Maldivian governments remain “inadequate”.

Finally, the Maldives Monetary Authority’s quarterly bulletin showed that a shortfall in expected revenue, coupled with increased recurrent expenditure had caused the government’s finances to further deteriorate.

One potential source of additional revenue appeared to have been found this week as the government announced it would be sell shares in the state-owned Maldives Airports Company Limited – the current operator of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport.


Transparency International “gravely concerned” about safety of Maldives staff, volunteers

Transparency International has expressed “grave concern” about staff and volunteer safety and “alarm” over the intimidation and public allegations threatening its Transparency Maldives chapter.

“Transparency International is gravely concerned about the safety of chapter staff and volunteers following an attack on one of its volunteers and telephone threats received by chapter members,” the international anti-corruption NGO highlighted in a press statement issued today (October 7).

“There appears to be a negative campaign in the local media aimed at undermining the effectiveness of Transparency Maldives’ anti-corruption work. Last week a senior member of the cabinet publicly threatened to close Transparency Maldives down,” Transparency International noted.

“Transparency Maldives has always played an active and constructive role in advocating for government transparency and accountability. We call on the authorities to ensure the safety of its staff and volunteers,” stated Transparency International.

Transparency Maldives is part of the Transparency International anti-corruption movement that includes more than 100 chapters worldwide.

Death threats and street attack

“An elections program intern was attacked on the street and had her phone snatched away,” Transparency Maldives’ Advocacy and Communications Manager Aiman Rasheed told Minivan News today.

Death threats were issued to Transparency Maldives staff by an unknown caller who contacted the organisation’s office, explained Rasheed. Both incidents occurred within five day period, during the last week of September.

“During every election these things occur, it’s not abnormal. However, the situation in the country has worsened since the 2008 [presidential] election,” said Rasheed.

“At that time, murder was unheard of and stabbings were rare. Now the threats seem more real in the current environment [with tensions escalating],” he added.

Today a death threat tweet stating “We will slaughter all of you goats until there are none left” was directed at Transparency Maldives and the Maldives’ former UK High Commissioner Farah Didi.

In regard to the “negative media campaign” aimed at undermining Transparency Maldives’ anti-corruption work, Rasheed noted that the Maldives Media Council (MMC) and Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) “will be aware of this” given their participation in the Elections Commission’s National Advisory Committee.

It is unclear whether MMC or MBC have taken actions to address these local media issues, but given the “general environment… a lot needs to be done in this situation” by regulatory authorities, he continued.

“Keeping [Transparency Maldives] staff and volunteers safe is our number one priority,” Rasheed declared.

In light of the recent death threats and attack of an intern, Transparency Maldives is urging staff and volunteers to be more careful, he explained.

“We are monitoring the environment and updating all our people,” said Rasheed.

Staff training has been conducted as part of Transparency Maldives’ security priorities, and the organisation’s electronic equipment and office are closely guarded, he explained.

“All [election] observers and volunteers are trained to remove themselves from any situation if any violence occurs,” he noted. “Their purpose is to observe whether violence has occurred, not to determine who hit whom.”

Transparency conducted an extensive election monitoring program, fielding a team of 400 election monitors during the first round of September 7. The organisation stated that the process was fair and credible and that incidents observed on the day would not have had a material impact on the outcome of the election.

Transparency Maldives called on all parties to act with restraint and uphold the constitution to allow for a run-off election to take place.

The Supreme Court on September 23, however, issued an indefinite injunction halting the second round of the presidential election, which had been scheduled for September 28.

Following the Supreme Court injunction, Transparency Maldives noted that the failure of parliament and the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to address alleged integrity issues of the Supreme Court judges have “created avenues for political and other actors to question the conduct, injunctions and verdicts of the Supreme Court”.

The following week, State Minister for Home Affairs and the Registrar of NGOs Abdulla Mohamed declared that Transparency Maldives and the Tourism Employees Association of the Maldives (TEAM) were under investigation for “unlawful acts” and warned the NGOs that organisations acting outside of law would be dissolved.


Commonwealth to observe polling stations in nine atolls

A Commonwealth Observer Group has arrived in Maldives to witness the proceedings of the 2013 Presidential Elections, and assess the transparency and credibility of pre- and post- election activities.

The 17 male and female observers come from  Europe, North America, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, with experience in politics, elections execution, diplomacy, and civil society. They will be traveling to nine atolls later this week for the September 7 election.

Group Chair and former Prime Minister of Malta Dr Lawrence Gonzi addressed the press today regarding the Commonwealth Group’s activities and intentions.

“Our task is to consider all the factors impinging on the credibility of the electoral process as a whole, and to assess whether the election is conducted according to the standards for democratic elections to which Maldives has committed itself, with reference to its own election legislation as well as relevant regional, Commonwealth and other international commitments,” Dr Gonzi said in a statement.

Gonzi specified that the group would consider “whether conditions exist for free and competitive elections; whether the Elections Commission is independent and effective; the transparency of the process; whether candidates have been free to campaign; whether public media has been impartial; whether voters are free to express their will; and whether the results process is transparent.”

He added that the group would be neutral, impartial, objective and independent in its activities and assessment.

“We are here in our individual capacities as eminent and experienced Commonwealth citizens. The assessment by the Group will be its own and not that of any member government,” Gonzi said.

The group has had informational meetings with representatives of the presidential candidates as well as the Elections Commission and other key stakeholders, and will continue to meet with these figures and relevant civil society organisations and NGOs, Gonzi noted.

He deflected questions about initial observations or concerns, however he did acknowledge that “there are issues related to procedures and processes.”

Earlier this week, Transparency International released its oversight plan for the 2013 elections proceedings, and Indian election observers arrived in Maldives. The United Nations has also announced that it will be sending an observer group to the country.

The Commonwealth Group said that it will be working cooperatively with these groups to gather information from all atolls and voting sites, “but we do have our own methods and tasks as mandated by the [Commonwealth] Secretary General.”

Observation of the Maldives’ first multi-party elections in 2008 and 2009 was conducted by Transparency Maldives, the Commonwealth Observer Group, and the Delegation of the European Commission to Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Domestic observation was supported by the Royal Embassy of the Netherlands, the Canadian International Development Agency, and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES). Transparency International’s report on the election noted that restrictions on accessibility to polling stations according to type of observational body created confusion.

The Observer Group will write its report and release it “as soon as possible” after the September 7 election. The group will remain involved in proceedings in the event of a second round.


Maldives omitted from 2012 global corruption index due to “insufficient data”

The Maldives has been omitted from Transparency International’s global Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2012 after it failed to receive required data from one of the three sources used to determine how it fares against other nations in terms of transparency.

The CPI ranks 176 nations in terms of their perceived corruption. States such as Denmark and Singapore rate at the top, while nations such as Zimbabwe and Somalia fall at the bottom of the index.

Last year the Maldives found itself placed 134 on the CPI, a slight improvement on 2010, despite continued fears of a “systemic failure to address corruption” by Transparency Maldives, the NGO’s local affiliate.

Transparency Maldives Project Director Aiman Rasheed told Minivan News that the Maldives’ failure to be included within the 2012 CPI “would raise a few eyebrows” internationally.

However Rasheed said that he did not expect there to be a significant detrimental impact in how the nation was already perceived by financiers, investors and other development groups.

“We have been included [on the CPI] for the last few years in 2011, 2010 and 2009, so I don’t think the ranking for this year will have been a big departure from these,” he said, adding that the challenges facing the country as a result of corruption still existed in 2012.

Rasheed said the CPI was a composite index based on information from a number of sources including the World Bank. He explained that of the three sources on which the Maldives’ CPI position was determined, the Asia Development Bank (ADB) had this year not supplied the required information needed by Transparency Maldives to compile its findings.

“We don’t have any reason for why this has happened and I would not wish to speculate,” he said.

However, a source with knowledge of the matter told Minivan News on condition of anonymity that there could be a number of reasons for the ADB failing to provide information on the Maldives.  These reasons were said to include a possible failure by the government over the last 12 months to provide statistics and figures to the ADB.

The ADB was not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.

Questioned as to how the country’s omission from the 2012 index would reflect on Transparency Maldives’ own work, Project Director Rasheed said it would be vital to clearly communicate with international groups the reasons for not being included this year.

“It does present us with some challenges. We have to hope people understand that there was insufficient information received,” he said.

Transparency Maldives last year alleged that the Maldives continued to be rated as having more perceived corruption that many other neighbouring countries, a situation linked to what it claimed was a lack of accountability and transparency across the country’s judiciary, parliament and members of the executive. The NGO maintained that last December that there remained a “systemic failure” within the national mechanisms established to bring accountability to the branches of state.

Just last month, a senior legal official who served under the current and former administrations has claimed the country’s legal system is wide open to corruption by allowing individual judges to schedule court hearings at their whim.

The legal figure, who has been involved in some of the country’s highest profile cases heard in recent years, told Minivan News it was “quite evident” that the lack of a centralised system for scheduling legal hearings was not only resulting in massive inefficiency, but also allowing for corruption within the country’s court system.