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PRESS RELEASE – August 02, 2016

Transparency Maldives (TM) calls on the Parliament of the Maldives to immediately reconsider the proposed bill criminalising defamation. At a time when fundamental civil and political liberties are under stringent restrictions of the State, the proposed defamation bill will be a further step back for press freedom and freedom of speech in the Maldives.

While recognising that a defamation law is required to protect people’s reputation, defamation must not be treated as a criminal matter but as a civil matter. Criminalising defamation will restrict freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 27 of the Constitution of Maldives.

Similarly, UN Human Rights committee, (UNHRCm), considers the criminalisation of libel to be a violation of freedom of expression and to be inconsistent with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Following concerns raised by journalists, civil society organizations, political parties and international actors on the initial draft, there was a glimmer of hope that this bill would be substantially revised in line with the Constitution of the Maldives and international best practice. Instead, a revised defamation bill has been tabled which does not address the concerns raised by journalists and human rights advocates in the country. Similarly, concerns raised by the Maldives Media Council were also disregarded.

Anyone convicted under the proposed Law could be fined between MVR 50,000 to MVR 2 million and if unable to pay the fine, face a jail term of 3 to 6 months.

While many democratic countries do have defamation laws, it is important to note that such countries also have mechanisms and conditions set to promote and protect free speech. However, in the Maldives free speech is in decline and the State has consistently failed to protect freedom of speech.

This bill is yet another attempt to stifle freedom of expression and dissenting voice in the Maldives. This proposed law will severely restrict media freedoms and the people’s ability to hold the Government to account.

Transparency Maldives calls on the Parliament to reconsider criminalising defamation and substantially review the proposed law so that it is in line with accepted international standards and the Constitution of the Maldives.

ENDS

View/download the press release in English and Dhivehi.

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With the rapid development of the tourism and fisheries sectors, the Maldives has enjoyed a long period of robust economic growth. The average rate for real GDP increase between 2000 and 2009 has been 6%, which is one of the highest in Asia. Multiple developmental projects, categorized as climate mitigation and adaptation projects, are announced each year from harbour construction and land reclamation to housing, water and sanitation.

However, this development comes at a cost. This governance update will highlight the issues and costs of undertaking developmental projects without long term considerations of climate change mitigation and adaptation.

As Margareta Wahlstrom, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction stated, “Climate change is treated as a disaster but it is a very fundamental development issue.”

The majority of the aforementioned projects are in the form of loans and grants from various international donors and organizations, worth millions of dollars, to aid the country in its efforts to combat the negative effects of climate change.

We will also be touching upon the importance of community consultation and participation when implementing developmental projects and the negative consequences of failing to do so.

Read our governance update here: Climate Finance Governance Update May 2016

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With the recent Audit report of the Ministry of Environment and Energy and the recommendations of the Auditor General, TM has published a Climate Finance Governance Update highlighting the theme “All climate related expenditure and financial statements must be ensured as free from corruption.”

View the download at: Climate Governance Update June

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JOB VACANCY ANNOUNCEMENTS

Transparency Maldives is looking for driven, skilled and passionate people to work against corruption and promote human rights in the Maldives.

View/download the vacancy announcement.

  1. Organizational Background

Transparency Maldives is a non-profit, non-­partisan organization that endeavours to be a constructive force in society by promoting collaboration and discussion on corruption, transparency and accountability. Our organization seeks to engage with stakeholders from all sectors (government, business, politics and civil society, among others) to raise awareness of corruption’s detrimental effects on development and society, improve transparency and accountability in governance, and eliminate corruption from the daily lives of people. Transparency Maldives received formal government registration in 2007, and is the National Contact of Transparency International (TI) in the Maldives.

 

  1. Project Summary

Project Name: Lobbying and advocating for human rights in the Maldives

This project is designed to support the democratisation process in the Maldives by promoting and protecting civil and political liberties in the Maldives. The main goal of this project is to create an enabling environment for civil society actors to operate and promote human rights through legislative reform, collective lobbying and advocacy. The project activities will complement the larger work undertaken by TM to advance good governance, create civic space and eliminate corruption in the Maldives.

Project Components

  1. Multi-stakeholder conferences and workshops
  2. Public engagement events
  3. Social media advocacy, lobbying and campaigning
  4. Legal reform work
  5. Grassroots mobilisation
  6. Research

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Position: Senior Project Coordinator

Job Title: Senior Project Coordinator (full­time)

Location: Male’, Maldives with occasional travel

Remuneration: Negotiable

Contract Duration: 1-year minimum with the possibility of extension

Start date: Immediate

Position Summary

The Senior Project Coordinator will be the lead member of the project team and will oversee the implementation of the project activities.  He/She will also be expected to have excellent leadership and project management skills to oversee the planning, development and implementation of the project components, liaising with stakeholders; and manage and work in a team of three. He/She will also be be able to work with minimum supervision and work well in a team.

Key Roles and Responsibilities

  • Lead and organize conferences workshops and trainings for various stakeholders.
  • Undertake research, reporting and translation as needed.
  • Oversee the logistics required for activity implementation.
  • Manage team members, consultants, facilitators and interns of the project.
  • Develop and manage stakeholder relations to ensure that project activities are successfully implemented.
  • Proficient in policy development which supports organisational priorities and reflects external changes.
  • Network and build partnerships with relevant stakeholders.
  • Prepare timely and accurate progress (narrative and budgetary) reports for Senior Management and donor as required.
  • Oversee the dissemination of Transparency Maldives’ key messages, advocacy tools and other products, including outreach activities for dissemination of messages and preparation of communication and promotional multi-media materials.
  • Collate information related to corruption and good governance in the Maldives and keep informed of developments and trends in the field.

Key Attributes:

Required

  • A high level of personal integrity.
  • A Masters degree in humanities, social sciences or other related field OR 3 years work experience in a similar position.
  • Excellent written and oral communications skills in both Dhivehi and English.
  • Strong interpersonal skills and ability to lead a team.
  • Strong research skills.
  • Highly organised self-starter, with strong ability to manage multiple work streams and work tight deadlines.
  • Strategic thinker, with experience of project management and ability to plan, prioritise and exercise sound political judgement.
  • Diligence, ability to pay attention to detail.
  • Strong commitment to Transparency Maldives’ and Transparency International’s values and standards.
  • Proven record of ability to take initiative to develop and complete tasks.
  • Ability to establish priorities, work independently, and proceed with objectives without supervision.

Desired

  • Background in human rights, including knowledge of relevant international institutions and processes.
  • Familiarity with managing websites and databases.
  • Experience of budget management.
  • Experience of facilitation and/or delivering trainings.

 

***

Position: Communications and Advocacy Coordinator

Job Title: Communications and Advocacy Coordinator (full-­time)

Location: Male’, Maldives with occasional travel

Remuneration: Negotiable

Contract Duration: 1-year minimum with the possibility of extension

Start date: Immediate

Position Summary

The Communications and Advocacy Coordinator will be a core member of the project team and will support the Senior Project Coordinator in undertaking the communciation and advocacy efforts of the project. He/She will be expected to have excellent communication, networking and campaigning skills and will be part of a team of three headed by the Senior Project Coordinator.

Key Roles and Responsibilities

  • Develop and implement advocacy campaigns for the Organisation.
  • Manage social media presence, such as Twitter and Facebook.
  • Make interventions in the local media, and on social media, to lobby and advocate for Transparency Maldives’ various causes.
  • Arrange press conferences and public engagement opportunities.
  • Draft speeches, talking points, press releases in Dhivehi and English.
  • Develop messages and content for online media.
  • Monitor local and social media coverage.
  • Develop and maintain media relations.
  • Draft and place op-eds in leading newspapers.
  • Organise and coordiante events for a range of stakeholders including the public.
  • Coordinate the dissemination of Transparency Maldives’ key messages, advocacy tools and other products, including outreach activities for dissemination of messages and preparation of communication and promotional multi-media materials.

Key Attributes:

Required

  • A high level of personal integrity.
  • A Bachelors degree in communication, journalism, development studies, international relations or any other related field OR 3 years work experience in a similar position.
  • Excellent written and oral communications skills in both Dhivehi and English.
  • Experience of gathering data from a wide range of sources, with ability to research and interpret complex information for a range of audiences and present in variety of accurate and accessible formats.
  • Team player, with experience of using engagement techniques, a broad appreciation of campaigning and communications.
  • Strong interpersonal skills.
  • Diligence, ability to pay attention to detail.
  • Strong commitment to Transparency Maldives’ and Transparency International’s values and standards.
  • Proven record of ability to take initiative to develop and complete tasks.
  • Ability to establish priorities, work independently, and proceed with objectives without supervision.

Desired

  • Familiarity with managing websites and databases.
  • Background in graphic design, including the use of basic design softwares such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and In-Design.
  • Experience of facilitation and/or delivering trainings.

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Position: Research and Project Coordinator

Job Title: Research and Project Coordinator (full­time)

Location: Male’, Maldives with occasional travel

Remuneration: Negotiable

Contract duration:1-year minimum with the possibility of extension

Start date: Immediate

Position Summary

The Research and Project Coordinator will be a core member of the project team, and will be responsible for ensuring all the research deliverables of the project are delivered according to schedule.  He/She will be expected to coordinate project activities and support the project team in project planning, implementation and monitoring and evaluation. He/She will also be expected to have research and analytical skills, and be able to work without supervision and work well in a team.

Key Roles and Responsibilities.

  • Organize consultation with stakeholders.
  • Undertake research, reporting and translation as needed.
  • Develop quarterly bulletins, monthly newsletters and case studies.
  • Network and build partnerships with relevant stakeholders.
  • Collect data for monitoring and evaluation of the project activities based on set indicators, and prepare reports for the donor and senior management.
  • Draft press advisories, press releases, coordinate interviews, monitor media coverage, coordinate responses to journalists’ inquiries and media requests in close collaboration with the project team and the Executive Director.
  • Support the project team in coordinating key project activities including organising logistics for conferences and workshops.
  • Support the coordination the dissemination of Transparency Maldives’ key messages, advocacy tools and other products, including outreach activities for dissemination of messages and preparation of communication and promotional multi-media materials.
  • Collate information related to corruption and good governance in the Maldives and keep informed of developments and trends in the field.

Key Attributes:

Required

  • A high level of personal integrity.
  • A Bachelors degree in communication, journalism, development studies, international relations or any other related field OR 3 years work experience in a similar position.
  • Excellent written and oral communications skills in both Dhivehi and English.
  • Excellent research, analytical and writing skills and ability to exercise sound political judgetment.
  • Previous research experience.
  • Strong interpersonal skills and ability to collaborate in a team.
  • Diligence, ability to pay attention to detail.
  • Strong commitment to Transparency Maldives’ and Transparency International’s values and standards.
  • Proven record of ability to take initiative to develop and complete tasks.
  • Ability to establish priorities, work independently and proceed with objectives, without supervision.

Desired

  • Background in human rights, including knowledge of relevant international institutions and processes.
  • Background in graphic design, including the use of basic design softwares such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and In-Design.
  • Experience of facilitation and/or delivering trainings.

***

Position: Project Officer

Job Title: Project Officer (full­time)

Location: Male’, Maldives with occasional travel

Remuneration: Negotiable

Contract Duration: 6 months minimum, with the possibility of extension

Start date: Immediate

Position Summary

The Project Officer will be a core member of the project team, and will support the coordinators in event management, campaigning, research and implementing project activities.  He/She will also be expected to work in a team in planning, developing, implementing and monitoring project components.

Key Roles and Responsibilities

  • Support the planning, development and implementation of project activities including conferences, workshops, trainings for stakeholders and public events.
  • Provide the project team and activities with logistical and adiministrative support.
  • Liaise with vendors and service providers.
  • Assist with research, reporting and translation for the project team, as required.
  • Develop and manage stakeholder relations to ensure that project activities.
  • Assist in collating data for monitoring and evaluation purposes.
  • Support the preparation of (narrative and budgetary) for Senior Management and donor as required.
  • Support the dissemination of Transparency Maldives’ key messages, advocacy tools and other products, including outreach activities for dissemination of messages and preparation of communication and promotional multi-media materials.
  • Collate information related to corruption and good governance in the Maldives and keep informed of developments and trends in the field.

Key Attributes:

Required

  • A high level of personal integrity.
  • Minimum 3 A-level passes or 2 years work experience in a similar position.
  • Excellent written and oral communications skills in both Dhivehi and English.
  • Strong interpersonal skills and ability to collaborate in a team.
  • Diligence, ability to pay attention to detail.
  • Strong commitment to Transparency Maldives’ and Transparency International’s values and standards.
  • Proven record of ability to take initiative to develop and complete tasks.
  • Ability to establish priorities, work independently, and proceed with objectives without supervision.

Desired

  • A Bachelors degree in communication, journalism, development studies, international relations or any other related field OR 3 years work experience in a similar position.
  • Background in graphic design, including the use of basic design softwares such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and In-Design.
  • Experience of facilitation and/or delivering trainings.

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HOW TO APPLY:

Closing date for applications: Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Application and selection procedures:

Please e-mail the following documents addressed to Ms. Mariyam Shiuna, Executive Director to office@transparencymaldives.org. Please include the job title and the applicant’s name in the e-mail subject line. Only short-listed candidates will be contacted for interviews. If you are shortlisted you will be notified via telephone/e-mail by 21 July 2016. Interviews are expected to take place between 21 – 25 July 2016.

  • Covering letter explaining your suitability for the role.
  • Recent curriculum vitae.
  • Names and contact details of two referees.

 

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Position title: Anti-Corruption Agencies Strengthening Initiative Research Consultant
Expected period of commitment: 30 days
Application deadline: 24 July 2016
Location: Male’, Maldives

View/download the full Terms of Reference

1. Organization Background
Transparency Maldives (TM) is a non-political organization that endeavors to be a constructive force
in society by promoting collaboration and discussion on corruption, transparency and accountability.
Our organization seeks to engage with stakeholders from all sectors (government, business, politics
and civil society, among others) to raise awareness of corruption’s detrimental effects on development and society, improve transparency and accountability in governance, and eliminate corruption from the daily lives of people.

Transparency Maldives received formal government registration in 2007, and is the National Contact
of Transparency International (TI) in the Maldives.

2. Background to the assignment
A strong Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) is a powerful asset in the fight against corruption. When
they are independent of the government and empowered to investigate allegations, they have the
potential to hold even the most powerful people in society to account.

Recognizing the potential of ACAs in combating corruption Transparency International has recently
launched the ACA Strengthening (ACA) Initiative, the purpose of which is to undertake assessments of ACAs throughout South Asia.

Research Teams of each National Chapter will be responsible for assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the ACA in their relevant country prior to publishing those findings in a comprehensive written assessment which will also include recommendations addressing perceived performance gaps; this will serve as a prelude to media engagement and stakeholder consultations to support the institution to become an effective Anti-Corruption Agency.

3. Purpose of the Assignment
TM is seeking the services of a research consultant to assist in compiling data pertaining to the Maldives’ ACC.

4. Duration of the Assignment: One month, with expected start date at the beginning of August 2016. The consultant is expected to be based in Malé, Maldives for the duration of the assignment, except for the Research Training component, which will take place in Sri Lanka.

5. Competencies Required

a. Master’s degree in a social sciences related field.
b. Proven expertise in political-institutional analysis with particularly strong knowledge of the country’s anti-corruption regime.
c. Familiarity with transparency, accountability and anti-corruption discourse.
d. Ability to research, analyse and synthesise information.
e. Familiarity with quantitative and qualitative survey methodologies
f. Ability to clearly and concisely express ideas and concepts in written and oral form.
g. Knowledge of corruption-related issues in the Maldivian context.
h. Excellent spoken and written English and Dhivehi.
i. Excellent ability to set priorities and manage time.

Closing date for applications: Before 0400pm Sunday, 24 July 2016.

Application and selection procedures: Interested applicants should submit an email to Mr. Mohamed Mimrah Abdul Ghafoor (mimrah.abdulghafoor@transparencymaldives.org). The subject line must read “Maldives ACA SI Consultancy”. The content of the application should not be longer than 5 pages and must include the following:

• A summary of relevant experience (attach a brief CV, providing evidence that you
are qualified to undertake this assignment).
• At least two examples of similar assignments that you have undertaken, preferably in
the Maldives, over the past 5 years.
• Proposed Charges (including estimates of consulting days and expenses)
• Two relevant references.
• Demonstrated fluency in English and Dhivehi.

Applications must be in English. Only short-listed candidates will be contacted.
The contract will be awarded on a lump sum/fixed cost basis. The application should state the bid
amount (in MRF) for undertaking the work.

Transparency Maldives retains the right to reject any or all of the applications and/or to enter into
additional negotiations with one or more of the tendering parties to help define the exact scope of
the work and deliverables to be undertaken.

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PRESS RELEASE – June 30, 2016

Transparency Maldives (TM) notes with concern the increasing intimidation and challenges faced by watchdog bodies, activists and media outlets reporting on corruption in the Maldives. Bypassing principles of transparency and accountability with complete impunity is becoming a common trend in the Maldives with changes made in legal mechanisms to facilitate corruption.

The recent amendment made to the Tourism Act to lease islands without a competitive bidding process contravenes principles of transparency and accountability. Instead of addressing the issues identified in the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) corruption scandal, where islands were given away for resort development, allegedly through corrupt deals, this new amendment builds on past corrupt practices and seeks to legalise similar corrupt behavior. In submitting and passing this amendment the Government of Maldives and the People’s Majlis has blatantly disregarded public concerns as well as concerns raised by the ACC over the lack of transparency, accountability and integrity in the leasing of islands for resort development. It appears that the Government has not learned any lessons from the MMPRC corruption scandal where an estimated USD 72 million of state fund was lost, and plans to continue on the same track and engage in legalised corruption. TM reminds the Government to honour its obligations under UN Convention Against Corruption and ensure transparency, competition and objective criteria in decision-making on public matters and resources.

TM condemns the continued persecution of anti-corruption actors in the Maldives, including media outlets and anti-corruption activists. The most recent example is the closing down of the online news website CNM, which recently reported on corruption allegations against First Lady Fathmath Ibrahim regarding the distribution of dates given by the Saudi Government and the fixed Hajj quota allotted to the First Lady. The minority shareholder and editor-in-chief of CNM cited political pressure as the reason for closing down CNM. The closing of CNM comes amidst increasing restrictions on press freedom and threats against journalists.

The on-going case against Gasim Abdul Kareem, former Manager at Bank of Maldives F. Nilandhoo branch, is a case where a possible whistleblower is being persecuted. Gasim  revealing information related to the bank transactions of SOF. Pvt Ltd.––the company accused of stealing USD 80 million of public money obtained through MMPRC resort leases–– may amount to whistleblowing.  As a consequence of revealing this information, Gasim has been in detention on charges of unlawful acquisition and disclosure of private information, since February 2016. Before any formal charges were made against him, Gasim was held in detention for over three months. TM believes that disclosure of information in public interest and in good faith by any individual to expose corruption should not amount to criminal prosecution.

TM calls on the People’s Majlis to provide legal safeguards for whistleblowers by enacting and enforcing comprehensive whistleblower protection laws based on international standards. The Government must provide protection for those who engage in anti-corruption activism, and ensure that the ACC is able to conduct their investigations into corruption cases, particularly the MMPRC case, free from intimidation and political coercion.

ENDS

View/download the press release in English and Dhivehi.

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In comparison to other South Asian countries, the Maldives follows a relatively liberal labour policy and over the past 25 years migration has become a permanent feature in the Maldives labour market. Growing income inequality between countries in South Asia has added the incentive for South Asians to explore income-earning opportunities in other countries. As such, since 1990 there has been a significant expansion of the foreign migrant1 workforce in the Maldives.

This study was commissioned by the Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre (ALAC) of Transparency Maldives (TM). Established in 2012, ALAC started out as the first free legal aid centre in the Maldives and over the years the majority of the clients that seek assistance from ALAC has been migrant workers – one of the most marginalised groups in the Maldives. ALAC has assisted migrant workers in accessing justice in relation to various issues, including human rights violations, immigration and labour related issues, and injustices related to corruption.

The purpose of the study was to develop a profile of migrant workers in the Maldives, identify the key stakeholders and issues related to the migrant worker system, and recognise migrant worker trends in the Maldives. The study was undertaken through the completion of a mapping exercise and evaluation of the state mechanisms and systems which deal with migrant workers in the Maldives, in an attempt to identify systemic gaps and loopholes that are supportive of the potential for acts of corruption. The study focuses on the practices, processes and procedures that are prone to corruption in relation to the migrant worker system at the national level.

View/download the Maldives Migrant Worker System Assessment


In 2014 a child custody dispute took place between a Maldivian man, Ahmed Sharaan, and a German woman, Tanja Sharaan. The two had met in 2013 whilst both were working in a Maldivian resort and had subsequently become romantically involved, getting married later in the same year.

Following their nuptials, the two moved to Switzerland, where they had a daughter. When the daughter was 5 months old, the father, unhappy with having to live abroad took forced custody of the child and travelled back to the Maldives without the mother’s knowledge, whilst she was at work.

Tanja subsequently returned to Male’ to try and find her daughter and Ahmed went into hiding with the child. Availing herself of legal counsel at a local firm, Tanja filed a case at the Maldives Family Court to take back custody of her daughter.

The initial difficulty in proceeding with the trial was locating Ahmed, whose lawyer appeared in court in his stead. Ahmed’s lawyer’s chief argument against granting custody to Tanja was that she would raise the child as a non-Muslim, despite Tanja having formally converted to Islam in 2013.

In February 2014 the Family Court ruled in favour of Tanja and ordered Ahmed to give Tanja practical custody of the child within 24 hours. Ahmed remained in hiding and, through his lawyer, appealed the decision to the High Court, which issued an injunction temporarily halting the Family Court order until the matter was deliberated upon by the Superior Court. This was done without the mother being given any prior notice.

The High Court ordered Ahmed to attend court in person and he subsequently came out of hiding to become involved in the court proceedings. During the proceedings, Tanja, who cannot speak Dhivehi, was not provided an interpreter by the state, as is constitutionally required.

On 20th March however, the High Court upheld the decision of the Family Court, granting Tanja custody of the child, on the condition that she could not leave the Maldives as this would contradict the visitation rights of the father. Tanja was subsequently able to overturn the court imposed limitation on her freedom to travel and has since moved abroad and filed for divorce.

It should be noted that despite the case being resolved in the mother’s favour there were serious issues with how the trial preceded that detrimentally affected the quality of justice she received. That an important injunction affecting her case was issued without giving her any notice was highly problematic. Also of concern was that Tanja was not given an interpreter despite her inability to speak in Dhivehi, which was a serious impediment with regard to her ability to access justice in the Maldives as a foreigner. Article 51 of the Maldivian constitution delineates an interpreter as a right to be afforded to a party to a dispute in the event that that party does not understand the language in which proceedings are being conducted.

View/download a PDF of Case Study: Custody dispute between Maldivian and foreign national


A female magistrate in Hithadhoo faces constant verbal discrimination and bullying from her male colleagues.

The magistrate district in question has five serving judges, four of whom are male and one of whom is female. The female magistrate’s male colleagues are accused of repeatedly making lurid and inappropriate comments about the female judge’s choice of attire and subjecting her to constant verbal harassment.

The male judges are reported to be particularly unhappy with her rulings in cases involving domestic abuse and divorce requests on the basis that her rulings favored women in such disputes.

The male judges are reported to constantly question her competency to serve as a judge on account of her gender, despite the female judge in question being the only judge with a law degree on the district – and collectively advocate for her resignation.

Furthermore they are reported to have appealed to the Judicial Services Commission with regard to her ability to preside over cases involving Hudhood offences, as reportedly, they do not find it appropriate that a woman should preside over cases of that nature. Reportedly the JSC were in agreement with this view and she is no longer able to preside over such cases. Sources also informed that, in accord with their belief that female judges should not be able to rule over certain types of cases, they also advocate that she should only be given half the salary of a male judge.

Transparency Maldives would like to note that observers and stakeholders in the judicial affairs of the Maldives have repeatedly observed that there is prevalent gender discrimination in our Judiciary, and furthermore that, as a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Maldives has a responsibility to ensure that the type of behavior described above does not occur or go unpunished.

View/download a PDF of case study: Female magistrate in Hithadhoo faces discrimination and harassment from male colleagues