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PRESS RELEASE – May 07, 2017

Transparency Maldives thanks its observers deployed across the country to observe the Local Council Election held on 6 May 2017. With the support of 25 observers and volunteers, TM observed 19 ballot boxes in 10 atolls: Haa Dhaalu, Baa, Kaafu, Alifu Dhaalu, Vaavu, Laamu, Gaafu Alifu, Gaafu Dhaalu, Gnaviyani and Seenu Atoll.  

In observing the Local Council Election, Transparency Maldives assessed both the election-day proceedings as well as the larger electoral and political environment. Transparency Maldives would like to express its gratitude to state institutions, civil society organisations and political parties for their contribution.

The following are the key findings we highlight based on our observation of 19 polling stations.

  • For various reasons, in several of the ballot boxes, voting began later than 08.00 am, as announced by the Elections Commission. In 17 out of the 19 ballot boxes observed, voting commenced between 8.10 and 09.00 am.
  • All necessary personnel and equipment were on site when voting began.
  • Except for two, all ballot boxes had the presence of one or more representatives from political parties or candidates when polling started.
  • Out of the 19 ballot boxes observed, one was placed at a  different location from where it was initially assigned.
  • Closing of polling was scheduled to 04.00pm, however close to this time, Election Commission announced to delay closing of polls to 06.00pm where polling started by 08.00am and to 08.00pm where polling started after 08.00am.
  • Out of the 19 ballot boxes observed, a total of 12 voters were not able to vote because due to administrative issues such as their names not being on the voter registry.
  • Out of the 19 ballot boxes observed, a total of 172 voters were assisted voters.
  • The ballot boxes observed by Transparency Maldives did not encounter any disturbances, neither was voting process disrupted for any reason.
  • Except for one, all ballot boxes had the presence of one or more representatives from political parties or candidates during the counting.
  • Out of the 19 ballot boxes observed, 15 ballot papers had extra marks, and three voters showed their ballot paper before casting the vote. Studies conducted in the Maldives suggests that similar acts are measures to ensure that those offered money or gifts vote to the candidate/party who offered money or gifts.

The following are our key observations of the larger political and electoral environment.

  • We note with concern that the 2017 Local Council Election was delayed on three occasions. While the first delay was the result of a Civil Court ruling following a case filed by the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), the election was further postponed a second and third time by the Elections Commission. A key feature of democratic elections is for it to take place regularly according to a predetermined schedule. Failure to hold elections as specified in the law, and the decisions by the Elections Commission to delay the elections will affect public confidence in the institution and in the electoral process.  
  • This election took place amidst political turmoil, with all opposition political leaders either currently in jail, in exile or facing criminal charges. This hindered opposition political parties’ ability to freely campaign in the run up to the election. 
  • Following the first postponement of the election, in February 2017, the fast-tracked amendments to the Local Councils Elections Act changed the requirements for candidacy in the election. This amendment allowed persons with previous criminal records to compete as candidates in the Local Council Election. Election delays coupled with such arbitrary legislative changes serve to undermine the credibility of elections.
  • Transparency Maldives and previous observer missions have repeatedly noted the problem of high level of vote buying in the Maldives. This continues to be an unchecked nationwide electoral issue that affect the credibility and integrity of elections.
  • We also note with concern that there were instances of misuse of state resources. For example, the Public Service Media (PSM) while denying coverage of opposition political campaigns, disproportionately covered political campaign events of the ruling party. Such actions not only undermine the integrity of PSM but also serves to provide the ruling party with an unfair advantage and precludes a level playing field.
  • Unfair restrictions on freedom of assembly  hindered the Opposition’s ability to campaign. Opposition parties expressed concern regarding arbitrary restrictions on leasing out public venues and allowing opposition street rallies while similar restrictions were not placed for ruling party candidates.
  • The Anti Defamation and Freedom of Expression Act passed in August 2016 placed severe limitations on media freedoms and restricted their ability to scrutinise election campaigns.
  • As with previous elections, Transparency Maldives notes a disproportionately low number of female candidates contesting in this Local Council Election. We also note the lack of efforts by the State and political parties to increase female political participation in elected leadership positions.

In light of our findings we observed that the administrative processes during election day was marred by the the questionable decision by the Elections Commission to arbitrarily extend the voting time. We urge the Election Commission to undertake serious confidence building measures to  strengthen the electoral process.  Moreover, significant problems exist in the larger electoral and political environment which include; the lack of a level playing field for opposition political parties, severe and arbitrary restrictions on media freedoms, freedom of assembly and expression, all of which restrict political and campaign activities; vote buying and the misuse of public resources for political campaigning.

We call on state institutions to lead the efforts to create a pluralistic political environment, work inclusively and with sincerity to address these issues and to create an enabling environment, conducive to a free and fair presidential election in 2018.

We offer our congratulations to all the newly elected councilors..

ENDS

Download the press statement in English and Dhivehi

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Read and download the joint statement by Transparency Maldives and Maldivian Democracy Network condemning the rejection of the letters submitted by Yameen Rasheed’s family to Maldives Police Service. The letters call for a credible investigation into the brutal murder of Yameen Rasheed and the forced disappearance of Ahmed Rilwan.

Download the letter here

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YR3Human rights activist and blogger Yameen Rasheed as murdered in the early hours of Sunday, 23rd April 2017, in the stairwell of his house. Prior to his murder Yameen had received countless numbers of threats and had reported them to the police. However no action was taken and the complaint was never taken seriously.

Despite having identified the culprits, the police have failed to apprehend them and take them into custody. Yameen’s family and friends continue to fear that his murder will face the same incompetence displayed by authorities in handling the case of the abduction of Yameen’s best friend Ahmed Rilwan. This call for action is an attempt to make sure that the murder of Yameen and his efforts to find his best friend are not forgotten. Through petitions, public messages, poetry and one on one conversations, and revisiting the values and causes so vehemently prompted by Yameen, we aim to seek justice for Yameen Rasheed and his friend Ahmed Rilwan and keep the values they stood for and their voices alive.

More here: www.weareyaamyn.com

What can you do?

  1. Sign the letter to the Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission of Maldives

Download and read the letter here. You can send a scanned copy of the signed letter  to office@transparencymaldives.org’ or drop off the forms at our office (G. Liverpool North, 2nd Floor, Shabnum Magu)

  1. Sign the petition to the Majlis

    Download the signature form here. You can send scanned copies of the signed forms to ‘office@transparencymaldives.org’ or drop off the forms at our office (G. Liverpool North, 2nd Floor, Shabnum Magu)

    View the petition here

  2. Sign the letter to the Commissioner of Police calling for a credible investigation into the murder of Yameen Rasheed and the forced disappearance of Ahmed Rilwan.

    You can read and download the letter here. Deliver the signed letters to the Maldives Police Services.

 

 

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ޔާމީން ރަޝީދު މަރާލުމުގެ އަމަލު ތަހުގީގުކޮށް، އެކަމުގެ ފަހަތުގައިވާ ބަޔަކާއި ސަބަބު ހާމަކުރުމަށް ގޮވާލަން

ރޭގެ ދަންވަރުގެ ވަގުތެއްގައި އަނިޔާވެރިގޮތަކަށް މަރާލާފައިވާ ޔާމީން ރަޝީދަކީ ދިވެހިރާއްޖޭގެ ސިޔާސީ މާހައުލު ހަރުދަނާކުރުމަށާއި، އިންސާނީ ހައްގުތައް ހިމާޔަތްކުރުމަށްގޮވާލާ އަދި ދީނީ ހައްދުފަހަނައެޅުން ހުއްޓުވުމަކަށް ގެނައުމަށް ކެނޑިނޭޅި ވަކާލާތުކުރަމުންއައި ހިތްވަރުގަދަ ޒުވާނެކެވެ. އަދި 2014ގައި ވީނުވީއެއްނޭނގި ގެއްލުވާލާފައިވާ ނޫސްވެރިޔާ އަދި ހިއުމަން ރައިޓްސް އެކްޓިވިސްޓް، އަހުމަދު ރިލުވާންގެ އެންމެ ގާތް އެއް އެކުވެރިއެކެވެ. ޔާމީން ރަޝީދުގެ މަރާއިގުޅިގެން މިނިވަން، ހާމަކަންބޮޑު އަދި ފުރިހަމަ ތަހުގީގެއް ކުރުމަށް ޓްރާންސްޕޭރަންސީ މޯލްޑިވްސްއިން ފުލުހުންނާއި ހިއުމަން ރައިޓްސް ކޮމިޝަން އަދި ޝަރުއީ މުއައްސަސާތައް ހިމެނޭގޮތަށް ދިވެހިރާއްޖޭގެ މުއައްސަސާތަކަށް ގޮވާލަމެވެ.

ޔާމީން ރަޝީދު މަރާލާފައިމިވަނީ އެކިފަރާތްތަކުން އޭނައަށް މަރުގެ އިންޒާރު ދީފައިވަނިކޮށެވެ. އަދި މިފަދަ އިންޒާރުތަކުގެ މައުލޫމާތު ޔާމީން ރަޝީދުވަނީ ފުލުހުންނާ ހިއްސާކޮށް، މައްސަލަ ބަލައިދިނުމަށް އެދިފައެވެ. ނަމަވެސް ޔާމީން ރަޝީދު ހުށަހެޅި މައްސަލަތަކަށް ޖަވާބެއް ލިބިފައިނުވާކަމަށް އޭނާ ސޯޝަލް މީޑިއާގައި ބުނެފައިވެއެވެ. އަދި އެކަމުގެ ކަންބޮޑުވުން ޓްރާސްންޕޭރަންސީ މޯލްޑިވްސްއާވެސް ހިއްސާކޮށްފައިވެއެވެ. މިފަދަ ހަމަލާތަކަކީ ސީދާ މިނިވަން ހިޔާލާއި ދެކޮޅަށްދެވޭ ހަމަލާތަކެއްކަމުގައި ޓްރާންސްޕޭރަންސީ މޯލްޑިވްސްއިން ގަބޫލުކުރަމެވެ. އަދި ކުރީގައި ދެވިފައިވާ މިފަދަ ހަމަލާތަކުގެ ހަގީގަތް މިހާތަނަށް ހޯދިފައިނުވާކަމީ ދައުލަތުން މިފަދަ ކަންކަމަށްދޭ އަހައްމިޔަތުގެ ހީނަރުކަން ދައްކުވައިދޭ ކަމެއްކަމުގައިވެސް ދެކެމެވެ. މިފަދަ ކަންކަމުގައި އިންސާފު ގާއިމުނުވުމަކީ، އަނިޔާވެރި ޖަރީމާތައް ހިންގާ ފަރާތްތަކަށްލިބޭ ހިތްވަރެއްވެސްމެއެވެ. މިގޮތުން ޑރ.އަފްރާޝީމު އަލީގެ މަރުގެ ފަހަތުގައިތިބި ބަޔަކާއި ސަބަބު ހޯދިފައިނުވުމާއި، އަހުމަދު ރިލްވާން ވަގަށްނެގިބަޔަކު ހޯދިފައިނުވުން ފާހަގަކުރެވެއެވެ.

މިފަދަ ގަތުލުއާމުތަކުގެ ހަގީގަތް ހާމަނުވާހާހިނދަކު ދިވެހިރާއްޖޭގައި އިންސާފު ގާއިމުކުރެވިދާނެކަމީ ސުވާލުއުފެދޭ ކަމެކެވެ. ހަމަޖެހޭ، އިންސާފުވެރި މުޖުތަމައެއް ހޯދައިދެވޭނީ ދައުލަތުން ވަކިވަކި ފަރުދުންގެ ހައްގު ހިމާޔަތްކުރެވޭނެ ހަރުދަނާ ފިޔަވަޅުތަކެއް އަޅައިގެންނެވެ. ޔާމީން ރަޝީދުގެ މަރާލުން ހަރުކަށި އިބާރާތުން ކުށްވެރިކޮށް ވީހާވެސް އަވަހަކަށް މިކަން ފުރިހަމައަށް ތަހުގީގުކޮށް، މިކަމުގެ ފަހަތުގައިވާ ބަޔަކާއި ސަބަބު ހާމަކުރުމަށް ދައުލަތުގެ މުއައްސަސާތަކަށް ގޮވާލަމެވެ.

މިހިތާމަވެރި ވަގުތުގައި ޔާމީން ރަޝީދުގެ އާއިލާއާއި އެކުވެރިންނަށް ތައުޒިޔާ ދަންނަވާ ކެތްތެރިކަމާއި ހިތްވަރަށް މިޖަމިއްޔާއިން އެދެމެވެ.

ނިމުނީ.   

Download our press statement here

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PRESS RELEASE – April 13, 2017

Transparency Maldives (TM) will observe the upcoming local council elections currently scheduled to be held on 6 May 2017. The key objective of this observation will be to understand the challenges facing the electoral system, identify issues in the larger electoral environment and to provide meaningful recommendations to address electoral issues in the Maldives.

Approximately 25 registered observers will support our election day observation. In addition to election day observation, TM also will monitor the run up to the election and the larger electoral environment. In this regard, TM has consulted relevant stakeholders including the Elections Commission and political parties, with further consultations due over the next few weeks.

Based on past election observation findings, Transparency Maldives notes two key trends in Maldivian elections:

  1. Voting day processes are generally well administered and fair.
  2. Issues such as vote buying, misuse of state resources, intimidation of political opponents and undue restriction of space for political activity tend to take place in the run up to the election.

Based on this, Transparency Maldives will focus on the following aspects in our observation of the local council election:

  1. The electoral environment of Maldives.
  2. The electoral legal framework.
  3. Election day proceedings.

We note with concern that the local council election will be held against a backdrop of concerning level of repression of civil and political liberties in the country. Political persecution is at an all time high with all opposition political leaders currently in prison, under some form of detention or operating out of the country, in exile.

The introduction of a host of laws and regulations that undermine and counter democratic norms and freedoms has put serious constraints on freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. The newly enacted Protection of Reputation and Freedom of Expression Act, has criminalized defamation and undermined press freedom in the country, and the amendment to the Freedom of Assembly Act has placed serious constraints on political activity. Right to freedom of peaceful assembly and the freedom of expression are prerequisites for a free and fair election and are necessary to ensure a campaigning environment, free of intimidation and undue influence.

As of now the election day has been delayed thrice, citing various reasons. Internal conflict within the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) led to a civil suit which consequently postponed the initial date (14 January 2017) scheduled for voting. We also note that repeated election delays have created a tradition of undermining legal and constitutional deadlines set for elections. Such actions contravene democratic principles and undermine the integrity of elections.

In the coming days, Transparency Maldives will continue to publicise information of its election observation. On election day we will hold a press conference after voting concludes to share our observations with the public. A final election report will be published following the election.

END

You can view/download press statement here in English and in Dhivehi

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PRESS RELEASE – April 06, 2017

A pluralistic political environment that allows for political dissent is one of the most fundamental prerequisites for a democratic society. Article 30 of the Maldivian Constitution unambiguously embodies this right for all Maldivians. However, today we are witnessing the intimidation of political opponents using state institutions, either through criminal investigations or state imposed fines. More disturbingly these measures against political leaders coincide with political fallout with government. The fact that that all opposition party leaders are either currently in jail, in exile or under arrest is a testament to authoritarian reversal the country is experiencing.

Transparency Maldives strongly condemns and is concerned by the intimidation of political opponents and those critical of the government by state institutions and the curtailing of the fundamental right to hold differing political opinions and ideas. Despite Article 17 of the Constitution disallowing discrimination based on “political thought”, we are witnessing political opponents facing unfair reprisals as a result of their political views. Holding dissenting political opinion has become a dangerous prospect in the country.

Transparency Maldives urges the government to find an amicable solution to the current political impasse and to work sincerely to ensure that the upcoming presidential election is free, fair and competitive. We call on the government to work with sincerity to bring back the country to the path of democracy, good governance and respect for human rights.

ENDS

You can view/download press statement here in Dhivehi and in English.

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Download Election Observation Report here

SUMMARY: The Presidential Elections in September 2013 was held under an extremely uncertain political backdrop. However, the elections presented an opportunity for moving forward the democratic transition that got off track because of the controversial change of power in 2012, half way into the term of the first democratically elected government in 2008. The pre-election environment, including campaigning, was largely peaceful. All parties and candidates generally enjoyed the prerequisite freedoms for fair and free elections ahead of the elections. Transparency Maldives’ Long Term Observers (LTOs) deployed throughout the country reported that there were a few cases of obstructions to campaigning and several, mostly minor, cases of vandalism to campaign materials.

The legal framework for elections provides minimum standards for democratic elections. Problematic areas do exist. The current legal framework, enacted in a constrained timeframe ahead of the 2008 Presidential Elections, is in need of reform. Most importantly, the loopholes and gaps in political finance regulations created a black hole when it comes to campaign expenditure. There are also no comprehensive rules or procedures for electoral dispute resolution.

As a consequence of the lack of such rules and because of buckpassing between institutions and because of jurisdictional confusions, investigations into allegations of bribery and abuse of state resources were hindered. As TM’s LTOs reported, there were several cases of abuse of state resources for campaigning and cases of vote buying during the elections. None of these cases were successfully investigated or prosecuted.

Some institutions, including the Elections Commission, the Maldives Broadcasting Corporation, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, and Transparency Maldives engaged in voter information and education activities. However, voter education on issues such as vote buying was found to be another area that required more attention.

The pre-existing political fault lines only re-surfaced after the announcement of the results of the round of elections of September 7th. Jumhooree Party (JP), the party of the candidate who placed third, contested the results at the Supreme Court as a constitutional 7 matter, bypassing the electoral complaints mechanism at the EC that were available under the electoral legal framework. The complaints were mainly regarding the voter register that JP alleged had allowed extensive election fraud through double-voting, ghost-voting, and underage voting. Street protests in Malé, a smear campaign against the Elections Commission via TV (mainly VTV affiliated with JP), death threats to election officials, and general lack of focus on campaigning, mired the prevailing electoral environment.

The JP case resulted in unprecedented court interventions in the electoral processes. Delay over a decision on the JP case at the Supreme Court resulted in the postponement of the run-off election beyond the constitutional timeline of 21 days given for run-off election. The Supreme Court finally ruled in favour of JP and ruled that the first round of election was invalid. Along with the verdict, the Court issued a new guideline to conduct elections, which highly constrained the role of Elections Commission. The Supreme Court subsequently intervened in the electoral processes resulting in further delays beyond the constitutional deadline to elect a president and beyond the presidential term limit stipulated in the Constitution.

The first round of the new election took place on 9 November 2013. The runoff election was finally concluded on 16 November 2013 – five days after the presidential term limit and 35 days after the constitutional deadline for electing a president.

Despite the challenges faced during all rounds of elections, the Election Commission delivered well administered, generally transparent and peaceful elections.