Transparency slams parliament, JSC for failure to address challenges to Supreme Court’s integrity

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”, Transparency Maldives has said.

Transparency fielded a team of 400 election monitors during the first round of September 7, stating 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.

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

The case was filed by the Jumhooree Party (JP), whose presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim narrowly missed a place in the run-off with 24.07 percent of the votes.

Prior to his registration as a presidential candidate Gasim was a member of the JSC, and was responsible for rejecting a recommendation from the JSC’s own subcommittee recommending that Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed be suspended pending an investigation into his leaked sex tapes.

The sex tapes and suspension of the election have resulted in escalating protests targeting the courts, with large pairs of white underpants quickly becoming widely adopted as a protest symbol.

“Expeditious resolution of such allegations and issues is imperative to ease rising tensions in the election environment and prevent the derailment of democratic processes,” said Transparency Maldives in its statement.

“Relevant state institutions, including the Judicial Service Commission and the Parliament of the Maldives must expedite the resolution of these issues and allegations, in a transparent manner free of conflict of interest, to reduce questioning of and allegations of partisan bias in such processes.”

The JSC is headed by Supreme Court Justice Adam Mohamed, one of the four Supreme Court judges who endorsed the suspension of the election. Despite a recommendation from its subcommittee to suspend Hameed, the JSC rejected taking action against the judge citing “lack of evidence”. Gasim meanwhile publicly dismissed the videos as “fake”.

A meeting of parliament’s Independent Commissions Oversight Committee yesterday was meanwhile been disrupted by government-aligned MPs blowing whistles, shouting and destroying equipment and furniture.

Local media captured video footage of yesterday’s meeting, including Dhivehi Quamee Party (DQP) MP Riyaz Rasheed vandalising equipment, hurling a chair and threatening cameramen while Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Ali Arif and Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) MP Ahmed Amir blew on whistles and yelled at parliament staff.

Newspaper Haveeru reported that the three pro-government MPs grabbed documents from administrative staff, impeded journalists and used obscene language.

After microphones and recording equipment were damaged, MDP MPs used their phones to record proceedings, during which MDP MP Ahmed Sameer was elected as chair and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Rozaina Adam as deputy chair.

Former chairperson of the committee, Independent MP Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed, resigned from the position this week but choose to remain a member of the oversight committee.

In addition to the Kulhudhufushi South MP, the committee includes Sameer, Ali Waheed, Ahmed Hamza, Ahmed Abdulla and Hamid Abdul Gafoor from the MDP; MPs Abdulla Yameen, Mohamed Mujthaz and Ibrahim Riza from the PPM; MP Rozaina Adam from the DRP; and Riyaz Rasheed from the DQP.

At yesterday’s meeting, the committee also decided to summon members of the JSC sub-committee formed to investigate a sex tape of Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed for questioning over delays to concluding their investigation.

Following the resignation of JSC members Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Didi and President’s Member Latheef Gasim from the sub-committee, the remaining members – JSC members Ahmed Rasheed and lawyers Hussain Shiraj and Mohamed Anil – are to be summoned before the parliamentary committee at 8:30pm tonight.

Haveeru video MPs disrupting September 25 meeting of Parliament’s Independent Commission’s Oversight Committee