Maldives is “steadily sliding” towards authoritarianism with “flagrant disregard” to the rule of law, human rights and good governance, according to the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), a non-governmental organisation based in New Delhi.
Releasing its study on the south Asian country after a team visited Maldives for four days in November last year, the CHRI has concluded that “the survival of democracy itself is at stake in the Maldives”. Since coming to power in November 2013, the government of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom “has curtailed human rights, democracy, and rule of law in violation of the Maldives Constitution, UN and Commonwealth standards,” the NGO stated in its report, “Searching for a Lost Democracy”.
The CHRI urged the government to respect the principle of separation of powers and constitutionally protected human rights; cease assaults on civil society, journalists and activists through “repressive” laws and practices; ensure “impartiality and accountability” of the police; release all political prisoners; and rectify the “poor state” of the judiciary.
Another NGO, Amnesty International, said in its annual report that the government of the Maldives had failed to defend the independence of the Human Rights Commission in the country. It had also failed to address the issue of judicial impartiality, which remained a “serious concern.”‘Young democracy’
Asked for reaction to the findings of the two NGOs, Ibrahim Hussain Shihab, international spokesperson at the office of President of Maldives, said: “While acknowledging that democracy and democratic institutions in the country need further strengthening, the administration remains committed to open engagement with the international community to further develop the young democracy in the Maldives.”