Human Rights Commission of the Maldives

The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives voices concerns and condemns ongoing acts calling them infringement fundamental rights of citizens and actions that could weaken the rule of law in the country – calls upon the President, Defense forces and the Ministry of Home Affairs to take immediate remedial action to address the issue

Published on 20-01-2012

Human Rights Commission of the Maldives has expressed concern regarding the ongoing turmoil in the country and condemns the unlawful and unconstitutional arrests of two opposition party members by the Police and the secret detention of the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court by the Defense Force.

On 12 January, Maldives Police Services summoned and took in to custody some opposition figures who were accused of making “baseless accusations” against the government. On 16th January Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, Abdulla Mohamed, ordered the immediate release of Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, the Deputy Leader of an Opposition Party (Dhivehi Qaumee Party) who was still in Police Custody that time. Later that night, Judge Abdulla Mohamed who has been accused of ethical misconduct earlier was summoned by the Police, and later arrested by the Police and Military. He was later known to be in the custody of Maldives National Defense Force at a Military training facility.

HRCM is concerned about the unlawful arrest of the Chief Judge of Criminal Court by the Maldives Defense force and him being held in an unidentified place without giving access to a lawyer. The High court and Supreme Court have issued Court Orders for his release. While the Human Rights Commission has continuously expressed concern and recommended, as per the I CJ report, conspicuous improvements to the judiciary of Maldives, the commission believes that such change can only be brought about using constitutional means. The Commission stressed diligently on the independent functioning of the judiciary without fear and apprehension of their judicial rulings.

In an attempt to ensure the protection and respect of the fundamental rights of the people, the Commission has initiated several responses to the State to immediately remedy the situation. These measures include inter alia:

- Sending a letter to the President noting that the present course of action by State Authorities were gravely undermining the public confidence in the State ability to respect, protect and fulfill the Constitutional rights such as the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, right to protect one’s own reputation and name, right to property and that under no circumstance can these rights be violated in a free, democratic society. The letter also urged the President to ensure the best interest of the people and take effective measures within the confines of rule of law.

- Sending a letter to the Minister of Defence and National Security noting that the arrest by the Defence Forces of Criminal Court Chief Judge on 16th January 2012 was a violation of the basic rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and international human rights conventions. The letter also notes that the Maldivian constitution guarantees the right not to be arbitrarily detained, arrested or imprisoned except as provided as law, that the military should not have the authority to conduct civil arrests within a democratic society and that the constitution and the international covenant on civil and political rights obliges that legal representatives and family members are made aware of the whereabouts of any individuals brought under state detention.

- Recommending that the Ministry of Defense and National Security and Maldivian National Defense Forces comply with court orders issued by High Court and the Supreme Court regarding this matter.

- Sending a letter to the Minister of Home Affairs stating that in order to create a culture of respect for human rights, to follow existing procedures for police work and that the police be empowered to act independently in accordance with the Police Act, in a free and impartial manner while fulfilling their legal obligations.

- Visiting the premises of Kaafu Atoll Dhoonidhoo, the Island where the Opposition Member was held, and to ensure his wellbeing and that no degrading or inhuman treatment has taken place during their detention.

- Visiting the premises of Kaafu Atoll Girifushi, the Island where the Chief Judge was held by the military and to ensure that he was kept in a suitable environment and that his basic necessities were met and that no inhuman or degrading treatment had taken place since the time of his arrest.

- Calling on all parties to work towards a peaceful solution to the ongoing problems and to ascertain the rights of everyone involved as well as recommending that demonstrations and protests take place peacefully and in a manner that refrains the violation of the rights of the individual person.

In addition, the Human Rights Commission is also working to find a peaceful solution through mediation and dialogue with the State and other parties involved.