Regional rights groups voice concern at Maldives crisis

 Maldives defence soldiers patrol on the main street of Male on February 5, 2018.

Maldives defence soldiers patrol on the main street of Male on February 5, 2018.

Amid growing calls internationally for the Maldivian government to abide by the rule of law, human rights organisations working in the region have strongly condemned the recent developments in the Indian ocean island.

South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) said it was “deeply concerned” at the political crisis engulfing the Maldives, following President Abdulla Yameen’s increasingly “authoritarian and undemocratic actions”.

It said, “Mr. Yameen stands accused of multiple charges of corruption and human rights violations” — allegations that he has denied in the past — the human rights organisation noted that the strongman President has been “politically isolated.”

The Maldives has been witnessing a heightening political crisis since February 1 when the Supreme Court delivered a major ruling ordering the release of nine Opposition leaders, including exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed. On February 5, Mr. Yameen declared a state of emergency, citing “security concerns.” While the Chief Justice and a Supreme Court judge were arrested soon after, the remaining three judges on Tuesday annulled the portion of the order releasing dissident leaders.

SAHR chairperson Sultana Kamal said in a statement that Mr. Yameen’s actions attacked two key pillars of liberal democracy — Parliament and the judiciary. “These acts show blatant disregard for rule of law and have justly drawn both international criticism and local protests in Male.”

'Restore fundamental freedoms and rights of people'

Earlier this week, the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) called on the Maldivian government to immediately lift the state of emergency and restore fundamental freedoms and rights of its people. “This is clearly an attempt to thwart any dissent against the government, and criminalise popular protests calling for compliance with the Supreme Court ruling,” said John Samuel, executive director of FORUM-ASIA, in a statement.

The government should “fully comply” with the rulings of the Supreme Court and release the Supreme Court Justices in detention, the statement said, adding that the administration must ensure the independence and proper functioning of the judiciary and Parliament.

The Maldives NGO Federation — a network of local civil society organisations — said it was imperative that the government, security services and all state institutions upheld the Constitution and rule of law. “In this environment of political instability, we also call on the three arms of the State to consider their respective boundaries, and refrain from encroaching on the powers of other arms as stated in the Constitution of the Maldives,” it said.

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Printable version | May 18, 2022 7:24:44 pm |