This document is produced by Transparency Maldives with the purpose of communicating and bringing to the attention of the international community issues of governance in the Maldives.

Attorney General files case against dissolution of small political parties

Attorney General Azima Shakoor has filed a case at the Supreme Court requesting it declare that existing smaller political parties would not be dissolved following the ratification of the new Political Parties Act.

 

A similar case was filed by the attorney general requesting a writ of mandamus against the Elections Commission to prevent dissolution of those political parties which failed to maintain the required 10,000 members as stipulated in the Political Parties Act.

 

The Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction against the Elections Commission ordering it to withhold the dissolution of political parties that did not have the required membership following the case.

Hulhumale’ Court bench not composed as requested Former Court Magistrate

Former Hulhumale Court magistrate Moosa Naseem told the Parliament’s Independent Bodies Committee that the Judicial Services had strayed from his request in composing the bench of Judges to reside over former President Nasheed’s case.

 

However, JSC had made the decision and had sent completely different names to the ones I requested. The magistrates I asked for were the most experienced and capable. I don’t know why they [JSC] decided otherwise, Naseem is quoted to having said.

 

He further refused to accept JSC’s decision to compose a bench excluding him while he was in charge of the Hulhumale Court, following the composition of which Naseem was transferred to the judicial sector in Alif Dhaal atoll.

AG appeals 15-year-old’s flogging sentence

Attorney General Azima Shakoor has appealed a court decision to sentence a 15 year-old girl alleged to be the victim of multiple cases of sexual abuse to 100 lashes on charges of fornication. The appeal had come about at a time where the government is considering legal reforms.

 

The girl was sentenced by the Juvenile Court after she confessed to authorities of having consensual sex with an unknown man during investigations into a separate case of abuse against the minor.

 

According to Azima the sentence had been appealed as the defence believes the child’s testimony had been taken in violation of the constitution and the charges had also been filed outside of the criminal procedure.

 

Petition website Avaaz.org had begun a campaign targeting the reputation of the tourism industry in protest over the sentencing of the 15 year-old. A petition launched on the same website against the sentence received over one million signatures within four days of launching.

 

Sources on the island Feydhoo revealed that concerns had been raised by islanders since 2009 that the girl had potentially been the victim of sexual abuse not just by her stepfather, but a number of other unidentified men on the island.

Transparency Maldives launches its Pre-Election Assessment

Transparency Maldives had on March 28, published a Pre-Election Assessment assessing the electoral environment and the challenges faced ahead of the Presidential Election of 2013.

 

The report identified various issues within the electoral legal framework such as the candidacy of former President Mohamed Nasheed, lack of monitoring of campaign financing, an extensive and entrenched culture of vote buying, and a media establishment set on fueling personality politics and further polarisation.

Artur brothers investing in the Maldives

Armenian brothers accused of being conmen and drug traffickers have linked up with various political figures to invest in the Maldives. The Armenians had been linked to a huge scandal in Kenya which eventually led to their highly controversial deportation.

 

A local media outlet KTN’s investigations team produced a daring expose of the cover-up that followed the seizure of Kenya’s largest ever cocaine haul in December 2004.

 

The channel further disclosed how several tonnes of the cocaine went missing; how the brothers were allowed to escape and how two State prosecutions were deliberately mishandled.

Other News

Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s legal team filed a case with the High Court regarding the deferment of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court criminal case against him until after the September presidential election.

 

The draft penal code bill has been amended to include punishments as prescribed in the Quran, such as amputation for theft.

 

Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz said that the biggest aim of the Police is to apprehend serious offenders and remove them from society and emphasized its importance in maintaining stable daily lives and a stable election environment.

 

He also warned Police will not allow protests in violation of the right to assembly law and pledged to uphold the law under any circumstance.

 

Police arrested SunMV journalist for taking pictures outside the Justice Building after he contested claims by police that he could not take photographs without displaying press identification. The Maldives Media Council (MMC) and Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) have since condemned the arrest of the journalist, calling for all parties to refrain from actions that might hinder freedom of the press.

 

Parliament has scheduled a vote of no-confidence against Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim and Minister of Home Affairs Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed for April 8. A vote to dismiss Jumhoree Party (JP) presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim from his position within the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has also been scheduled for April 9

 

Please call Transparency Maldives Advocacy and Communication Manager Aiman Rasheed (790 8967) for questions and clarifications.

 

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This document is produced by Transparency Maldives with the purpose of communicating and bringing to the attention of the international community issues of governance in the Maldives.

 

Former Civil Service Commission President Fahmy’s Case

The Supreme Court on March 14, 2013, Thursday ruled the removal of former Civil Service Commission (CSC) President Mohamed Fahmy Hassan from his post by the Parliament as unconstitutional.

 

Fahmy filed the case at the Supreme Court alleging that he had been dismissed as President of CSC in violation of the constitution. Parliament in November had passed a motion to remove Fahmy from his post over allegations of sexually harassing a female employee with 38 MPs voting in favor of the motion.

 

The Parliament’s Independent Institutions Committee has also voted to reinstate Fahmy as the head of CSC.

 

Former President Nasheed’s Trial

The next trial hearing of former President Nasheed over the unconstitutional arrest and detainment of the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed has been scheduled for April 4, 2013, Thursday.

 

The European Union (EU) had declared that it would be difficult to consider the Maldives upcoming presidential elections credible unless former President Mohamed Nasheed is allowed to contest. The government had however criticized the statement by the EU as unacceptable and unfortunate.

 

Whilst, Speaker of Parliament and Judicial Services Commission (JSC) member Abdulla Shahid has accused the JSC of composing the bench of Judges residing over Nasheed’s case outside of its legal mandate.

 

Minister for Home Affairs Dr Jameel has claimed it is a religious obligation to bar former President Mohamed Nasheed from contesting the upcoming presidential elections, scheduled to take place on September 7, while speaking at rally held by the Progressive Party of the Maldives.

The government calls on the international community to not favor candidates

Minister of Environment and Energy Dr Mariyam Shakeela former acting minister for the Ministry of Gender and Human Rights called on the international community to not interfere with the internal matters of the state and favor a certain candidate at a United Nations Human Rights Council meeting.

 

She said that it is in the national interest of the Maldives to hold a free, fair and inclusive election in which all political parties, including small parties are allowed to participate and stressed that the government has no intention of preventing any party from joining the Presidential race.

Human Rights Ambassador labels Amnesty as biased

The Human Rights Ambassador of the President’s Office Ahmed Ibrahim Didi has accused international NGO Amnesty International of being biased and fabricating stories about the human rights situation in the Maldives and of releasing reports about the Maldives without conducting any studies or research.

The Anti-Corruption of the Maldives reveals corruption level in Maldives unchanged

The Ant-Corruption Commission of the Maldives has revealed that levels of corruption in the country have remained unchanged during the past year in its annual report.

Forgeries, fraud and dead people appearing on party membership forms

The Elections Commission (EC) has said it has noticed a rise of inconsistencies on membership forms submitted by certain political parties including forged documents, forms with false information and even forms filed under the names of dead people.

President ratifies political parties bill, 11 parties dissolved

President Dr Mohamed Waheed has ratified the Political Parties Bill which states that parties who do not meet the required 10,000 members will no longer be recognised as such in the Maldives.

 

Only five political parties remain that meets the requirements of the bill. They are the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Adalath Party (AP), Jumhoory Party (JP) and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP).

 

The President also ratified the controversial Parliament Privileges Bill, which the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) claims will undermine the ability of Maldivian journalists to protect their sources.

Government opens Male’ Immigration Shelter

An immigration shelter intended to temporarily house unregistered and illegal immigrants is now up and running in Male’ as part of the government’s efforts to provide a more humane means of tackling immigration problems in the country.

 

With civil society, industry bodies and international experts continuing to raise concerns about the treatment and number of unregistered foreign workers in the Maldives in recent years, the country has come under increasing pressure to safeguard rights of migrants and curb people trafficking.

The Maldives has appeared on the US State Department’s Tier Two Watch List for Human Trafficking for three years in a row.

Human Rights Ministry sends orphans to mental disability centre without psychiatric evaluation

The Ministry of Gender, Family and Human Rights has admitted transferring two children from the Villlingili island orphanage Kudakudhunge Hiya to the Centre for People with Mental Disability on the island of Guraidhoo, without determining if they were in fact special needs children.

 

The Ministry confessed to transferring the 18 year-olds two of eight children sent to the Guraidhoo centre without a doctor’s consultation.

 

Please call Transparency Maldives Advocacy and Communication Manager Aiman Rasheed (790 8967) for questions and clarifications.

 

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This document is produced by Transparency Maldives with the purpose of communicating and bringing to the attention of the international community issues of governance in the Maldives.

President Nasheed’s Trial

Former President Mohamed Nasheed sought refuge in the Indian High Commission in Male on February 13, Wednesday following the Hulhumale Magistrate Court’s order to the Police to produce him in court for his trial over the unconstitutional arrest and detention of Judge Abdulla Mohamed in 2011. The order was issued after he had failed to appear at previous court hearings.

 

Nasheed had earlier asked to hold off his trial until after the Presidential Elections during a hearing on February 3 Sunday at the High Court, regarding procedural issues raised by his legal team at the lower court which had been appealed to the High Court.

 

The procedural points were initially raised at a Hulhumale Magistrate Court hearing on October 9, 2012 Tuesday. The High Court upheld the lower court’s decision over the matter. The former President left the Indian High Commission on February 23 Saturday after 11 days.

 

The Parliament’s Independent Bodies Committee had earlier probed into the constitution of the bench of Judges residing over Nasheed’s case appointed by the Judicial Services Commission as well.

Presidential Election scheduled for September 7, 2013

The Presidential Election has been scheduled for September 7, 2013 by the Elections Commission (EC) of the Maldives, with the commission citing possible financial difficulties due to insufficient budget allocation.

 

It is estimated that there will be 31,000 new voters this year with an additional 100 ballot boxes to be placed around the country for voting. The entire cost of the election is estimated is at MVR55 60 million. The Finance Minister has assured the EC that financial constraints will not impede the holding of the election.

 

The President of the Elections Commission warned that if Nasheed’s trial proved to be a tool to bar him from contesting the scheduled presidential elections, it would cast doubt over the integrity of the election.

 

The UK, US and the UN have also called for free, fair and inclusive elections.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers claims Judicial Independence compromised by external interference

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul who had visited the Maldives on a fact finding mission on February 16, Saturday claimed that Judges and Lawyers in the Maldives are not sufficiently independent from external pressures and influences.

 

Presenting her preliminary findings on the functioning of the justice system in Maldives, Knaul said there was insufficient dialogue, respect for the new constitution created in 2008, transparency and access to information, and accountability to allow the judiciary to function properly.

 

She criticized the appointment of Judges presiding over former President Nasheed’s case describing it as having been set up in an arbitrary manner outside the parameters laid out in the laws. She also spoke about the Judicial Services Commission, stating that the body is politicized and subject to external influence rendering it unable to function as per its mandate.

President’s Human Rights Ambassador calls on EC to dissolve MDP

The Human Rights Ambassador of the President’s Office Ahmed Ibrahim Didi called on Elections Commission (EC) President Fuad Thaufeeq to dissolve the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) accusing the party of being unlawful, committing terrorist activities and attempting to undermine the powers of the state.

 

Ibrahim Didi stated that he saw no reason for there to be dissenting political views while likening anyone who disagrees with the Police to criminals.

ACC launch investigation into 99-year Maamigili Airport lease

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has begun investigating the 99-year lease of Maamigili Airport to Villa Shipping and Trading, local media reported.

 

The private airport is owned by Chairman of Villa Group and Jumhoree Party (JP) MP, Gasim Ibrahim. The airport had initially been leased to the JP presidential candidate’s Villa company for 30 years.

 

Former Minister of Transport Dr Ahmed Shamheed who was nominated as transport minister by JP was later removed from his cabinet post after extending the airport lease.

Foreign Ministry calls on to expedite measures against Human Trafficking

Maldives Foreign Ministry has called to expedite measures against human trafficking as Maldives is at a critical state in human trafficking index. The Foreign Ministry had started a blue ribbon campaign together with the media against human trafficking.

 

The Tourism Employment Association of the Maldives (TEAM) had earlier reported that corrupt immigration practices and the use of unregulated employment agencies by private and state employers are limiting efforts to curb abuse of migrant workers and prevent illegal practices such as retaining staff passports.

 

Meanwhile the Department of Immigration and Emigration revealed that it had caught and deported more than 100 people trying to enter the Maldives with fake passports during last year.

 

The Maldives has come under strong criticism internationally in recent years for the prevalence of people trafficking, and the country has appeared on the US State Department’s Tier Two Watch List for Human Trafficking for three years in a row.

 

Other Developments

The Maldives Police Service has said it is looking into a corruption case involving Deputy Parliamentary Group Leader of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Ali Waheed, in collaboration with the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

 

Former Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) Male Area Commander Brigadier General Didi, former (MNDF) Head of Operations Directorate Colonel Mohamed Ziyad and former Defense Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu denied charges levied against them by the Hulhumale Magistrate Court for the arbitrary arrest and subsequent detention of Judge Abdulla Mohamed, Chief Judge of the Supreme Court.

 

MVR 11.7 million (US$762,215) has been awarded to nine political parties from the state budget according to local media. Out of the 16 political parties registered at the EC, the nine that were awarded money include: Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), Adhaalath Party (AP), Maldives National Congress (MNC), Jumhooree Party (JP), Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Maldives Development Association (MDA).

 

Criminal Court Judge Abdul Baari Yoosuf suspended over allegations of sexual misconduct.

 

The High Court has released the five people arrested in connection with a MVR 24 million (US$1.55 million) corruption investigation involving the Disaster Management Centre (DMC).

 

Please call Transparency Maldives Advocacy and Communication Manager Aiman Rasheed (790 8967) for questions and clarifications.

 

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This document is produced by Transparency Maldives with the purpose of communicating and bringing to the attention of the international community issues of governance in the Maldives.

1. Transparency Maldives expresses concern about certain decisions and bills passed by the Parliament

Transparency Maldives expresses concern regarding the Parliament’s decision to make votes of no confidence and impeachment secret and the endorsement of key bills that unduly restrict basic freedoms such as freedom of association, freedom of assembly and a bill that provides undue privileges to Members of Parliament.

 

1.1 Making votes of no confidence/ impeachment secret

 

Transparency Maldives believes that the decision to make the votes of no confidence and impeachment secret undermines the transparency of the Parliament, exposes it to corruption and obstructs elected members from being held accountable by their constituents.

 

1.2 Political Parties Bill

 

The Political Parties Bill that was passed by the Parliament on 27 December 2012 curtails the right to establish political parties and form associations as per Article 30 of the Constitution of Maldives by stipulating an arbitrary 10,000 membership limit for formation and sustainment of a political party.

 

The bill however, fails to address current gaps in the legal framework with regards to promoting transparency and accountability of the party to it’s members and public; strengthening general governance of the party; and strengthening political party financing transparency.

 

The Bill has since been returned to the Parliament for reconsideration by the President Dr. Hassan Waheed.

 

1.3 People’s Majlis Privileges and Powers Bill

 

The Privileges and Powers Bill by the People’s Majlis remains outside the conceptual remit of Article 90 of the Constitution of the Maldives, containing a series of unwarranted financial benefits and concessions to members.

 

Transparency Maldives believes that the Privileges and Powers Bill be based on the fundamental concept of parliamentary privileges provided in Article 90 of the Constitution of the Maldives, the purposes of which are to remove possible obstructions to the proper functioning of the parliament, to uphold its institutional integrity and to facilitate MPs to carry out their constitutional obligations effectively without undue influence or interference.

 

This bill was sent back to the Parliament for consideration by the President without ratification.

 

1.4 Freedom of Peaceful Assembly Act

 

The Freedom of Peaceful Assembly Bill was the only bill ratified of the three bills forwarded by the Majlis for presidential assent during the last sitting of the Parliament in 2012.

 

The Act infringes upon Article 27, freedom of expression, Article 28, freedom of media and Article 32, freedom of peaceful assembly by among other things, unduly restricting places of assembly; placing administrative hurdles for assembly; and enforcing only journalists accredited by Maldives Broadcasting Commission to cover protests.

2. Maldives plummets 30 places to 103rd in the Press Freedom Index

Maldives plummets 30 places to 103rd in Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Press Freedom Index 2012.

 

The Index notes the first attempted murder on a journalist –Hilath Rasheed, who has since fled the country– the attacks on journalists, state and private media during the political turmoil surrounding the 7 February incidents and the ensuing political struggles.

 

Maldives ranked 144, 129, 104, 51, 52, 73 and 103 in the Press Freedom Index in the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively.

 

The Maldives is now at 2008 levels, prior to the first-ever multiparty presidential election, having lost the gains made in the years 2009 and 2010, according to the Press Freedom Index.

3. Freedom House report drops Maldives from list of electoral democracies

Freedom House has dropped Maldives from the list of electoral democracies. Although Maldives has been removed from the list of electoral democracies, the country is still placed in the Partly Free category in the report.

 

The political rights dropped from 3 to 5 and civil liberties remained at 4, the same as last year.

4. Parliament’s Executive Accountability Committee begins probe of the CoNI report

The Parliament’s Executive Accountability Committee (EAC), controlled by opposition MDP begins review of the CoNI report.

 

Former and current Commissioners of Police, Defense ministers as well as key persons involved in the 7 February incidents have been summoned to the

 

Information shared with the EAC in closed door sessions have been leaked to the media

5. Government seeking to dissolve the Male’ City Council

The government has sought to dissolve the Male’ City Council amid the conflicts between the local government and the central government following the contentious transfer of power on 7 February.

 

As per Article 66 of the Decentralization Act, the Local Government Authority (LGA) may request the dissolution of a council if the council: is repeatedly unable to observe and carry out its duties and responsibilities; abuses it’s resources; and if the council is repeatedly unable to come to agreement or is unable to reach the required quorum for sittings leading to obstruction of and inability of the council to carry out its legal mandate.

 

A council can only be dissolved if the High Court sees no other way than to dissolve the council, as per Article 66, B.

 

The issue has been presented to the LGA by the central government. The 9 member LGA Board is headed by the current Minister of Home Affairs, Dr. Ahmed Jameel.

6. Usfasgan’du issue

The Usfasgan’du, where Maldivian Democratic Party had been camped since March 2012 has been cordoned off by the Maldives Police Service on 30 Jan 2012 following a court order by the High Court.

7. Court system inaccessible to migrant workers

MinivanNews.com picked up Transparency Maldives Advocacy and Legal Advice Center press release on achievements in the year 2012 and covered the migrant worker issues. Transparency Maldives ALAC team came into contact with and provided free legal information to over 350+ migrant workers at an event in Sultan Park on x December 2012. Many expatriate workers gather in public places such as the Sultan Park on Fridays.

 

Migrant workers highlighted three main issues: non-payment of wages; withholding of passports; and poor living conditions.

 

Maldives has been placed on US State Department’s tier two watch list for human trafficking for three years in a row.

8. Other developments

8.1 The Prosecutor General has appealed at the High Court the dismissal of four cases of corruption charges against the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim on 8 January 2012.

 

Nazim was cleared of all four counts of corruption/fraud 23 February, 16 days after the transfer of power on 7 February.

 

8.2 Mohamed Jinah, Head of the Drug Enforcement Department of the Maldives Police Service was dismissed on 10 January.

 

8.3 Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam, former Head of Military Intelligence was relieved of his duties due to a complaint submitted against him on 18 January.

 

Please call Transparency Maldives Advocacy and Communication Manager, Aiman Rasheed (790 8967) for questions and clarifications.

 

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