Introduction

The key political event in December was the removal of two judges from the Supreme Court bench after bringing amendments to the Judicature Act. In addition to this, several key legislatures were passed by the Parliament during the final sitting for this year 2014.

(1) Removal of two sitting judges from the Supreme Court

During the month of November a bill to amend the Judicature Act was submitted. The  amendment proposed to decrease the number of judges at Supreme Court from seven to five. The voting was held on 10 December 2014, and 46 MPs voted in favour of passing the amendment while 21 voted against it. The amended Judicature Act provided for the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) to forward to the Parliament the names of two Supreme Court judges that the Commission deem as incompetent. On an emergency meeting held on 11 December 2014, JSC decided both Justice Muthasim Adnan and Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain as incompetent. During the extraordinary sitting of the Parliament held on 14 December 2014, MPs from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Jumhooree Party (JP) condemned the Speaker of the Parliament and secretariat for failing  to provide details of the JSC report which recommended removal of the two judges. MDP  issued a three-line whip against the amendment , whereas JP issued a free whip. A total of 53 MPs voted in favour of the removal of the two judges while 21 MPs voted against the removal. Despite issuance of a three-line whip, six MPs from MDP did not attend the session, which helped the ruling coalition get the two-third majority vote required to remove the two judges. Five MPs from JP voted in favour of removal and four MPs from JP voted against the removal of two judges. A total of two MPs opted to choose neither sides and one MP abstained.

The  US Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal and international agencies such as International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) expressed serious concerns and disapproval citing the removal as arbitrary, unfair and unconstitutional. According to The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, not publicizing the grounds for removal of the two judges is not acceptable. She also added that it violates Article 154 of the Constitution which states that a judge may be removed from office only if JSC  finds the person grossly incompetent, or guilty of misconduct.

A joint statement released by Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association (CMJA), Commonwealth Legal Education Association (CLEA), and Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA)  also condemned removal of the two judges as  unconstitutional and a breach  of Commonwealth standards.

(2) Newly passed Acts

During the month of December, several important Acts were passed.  These include the Extradition Act, the Mutual Legal Assistance Act, and the Transfer of Prisoners Act. These Acts contain provisions that brought Maldives inline with various areas of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption to which Maldives had acceded to in 2007.

  • The Extradition Act: The Act provides for the situations and procedures where people accused or convicted of crimes can be extradited to and from the Maldives. The Act classifies the types of offences for which individuals can be extradited and regulates the procedures to be followed in extraditing individuals.
  • The Mutual Legal Assistance Act: The main objective of the Act  is to mutually provide and get assistance pertaining to criminal proceedings, through establishing necessary relationships  and procedures. Such assistance include the provision of evidence and arrangements for travelling of persons who provide testimonials against transnational crimes. In addition to this, asset and financial statements from banks and freezing of assets are also covered under this Act.
  • Transfer of Prisoners Act: This Act provides for inter-state transfer of prisoners and allows them to serve whole or part of their sentence in their home country. According to the Act, the remainder of the sentence must be less than a six months and only the most recent sentence is considered.

(3) Constitutional amendments submitted

A constitutional amendment was submitted on 24 December 2014, which proposes to amend the Article 109 of the Constitution to bar the eligible age for contesting in the presidential race to 65 years. MPs from JP condemned such an amendment  is a  violation of a basic constitutional right. According to the prominent lawyer and former Attorney General Sood, a referendum is necessary before the Parliament decides to bring such an amendment. Amendments to the bill on security and benefits of ex-presidents was also sent to the Parliament on 25 December 2014. The amendments include various benefits entitled to ex-presidents and provisions for deprivation of security and benefits of the same.

Conclusion

The Parliament has concluded the final term of the year 2014 and the Parliament sessions for the year 2015 will commence during the first week of March. During the upcoming period, it is expected the Parliament will pass the amendments to the Prohibiting Threatening and Possession of Dangerous Weapons and Sharp Objects Act 2010. This Act comprehensively provides penalties against use of threatening and possession of dangerous weapons and sharp objects. Such penalties include capital punishment and life-time imprisonment.


Introduction
Transparency Maldives intends to increase accountability of the Parliament and enhance public trust in the institution. The organization is currently identifying and covering important developments so as to disclose the recent parliamentary matters to the general public. In this regard, a series of updates will be published on the website in the upcoming months.

This particular report highlights the important events and discussions that took place in the Parliament from October to December 2014. These include important matters related to the budget 2015, decentralization, health sector reform, and key institutional appointments.
Budget 2015

The Parliament has finalized a budget of 24.3 billion for 2015, on 10th December 2014. While concluding committee discussion sessions on the budget for 2015, the Budget Committee had proposed eleven recommendations, which included controversial amendments to existing laws.

One of the recommendations is merging independent institutions, which were formed to enhance democratic governance in the country. The new Constitution was ratified in 2008, and it provided for the establishment of constitutionally-mandated independent institutions. To establish a modern democracy with accountability mechanisms, the ‘Roadmap for Reform’ advocated for independent state institutions.

The budget was finalized without considering the opposition party’s recommendations and opposition MPs abstained from voting. A green tax initiative, an acquisition fee on Special Economic Zones and leasing of ten resorts include some measures to increase government revenue in 2015. The finalized budget is relatively high compared to the current year’s budget. To minimize government expenditure, the government has already announced 2015 as a “job freeze” year. This means the government has to resort to private sector to create jobs for youth.

Decentralization and health sector reform

The Budget Committee has also proposed to bring changes to the Decentralization Act. Maldives, with many dispersed islands over a relatively large area where transport networks are still inefficient and disconnected, requires a more decentralized approach in providing resources and services. The proposed changes include making the council members part-time, except the President of the Councils. The part-time councillors, however, will be entitled a commission based on the number of meetings they attend.

The Committee has also recommended measures to increase the quality of health services provided by IGMH, decrease the number of expatriates in tourism sector, and establish a local development bank.
The Government is formed by a dominant ruling coalition with a clear majority in the Parliament. The opposition MPs accused the coalition of taking unfair advantage of having a majority.

Key institutional appointments
Also, on 24th November 2014 , the Parliament has approved Hassan Ziyath as the new Auditor General. The Auditor General’s position became vacant as the ruling coalition made amendments to the Auditor General’s Act. According to the MPs of the opposition, the amendment was against the Constitution. Article 268 clearly states that all laws of the Maldives must be enacted in accordance with the Constitution and any law or part of any law inconsistent with the Constitution is, to the extent of  its inconsistency, void and of no force and effect. Also, according to the Article 218  (a) of the Constitution, the Auditor General shall only be removed from office on the ground of misconduct, incapacity or incompetence.
On 4th December 2014, the Parliament approved the members nominated by the President for the Elections Commission. The opposition MPs highlighted that the removal of former President of the Commission and a Commission member was unconstitutional. The Article 177  (a) of the Constitution, states that a member of Elections Commission shall only be removed from office on the ground of misconduct, incapacity or incompetence.
Conclusion
The past month has been a busy month for the Parliament where important discussions were held. This included budget finalization, key appointments to important institutions and amendments to existing laws. Moreover, the amendment to the Decentralization is also a key amendment.

The current Associations Act and regulations adversely affects the formation and running of civil society organizations due to the ineffective and bureaucratic system that does not distinguish between foundations, charities, sports clubs, NGO’s, CBO’s and federations and imposes one set of rules on all associations leading to administrative and governance difficulties; a legal framework from 2003 that does not take into account the expansive Bill of Rights enshrined in the Chapter Two of the 2008 Constitution of Maldives 2008; no provisions and systems in the current administrative and legal framework.

Work is underway in reforming the Associations Act in oder to develop and foster an enabling environment for the civil society to flourish.The governance, transparency and functioning of CBO’s will improve if the systemic issues in the regulatory framework are addressed.

Comments and recommendations on 2003 Associations Act addresses several legal issues with the 2003 Associations Act of the Maldives.


The National Integrity System of the Maldives is based on three compound structures of key institutions: the core government agencies of Legislature, the Executive and theJudiciary; the public sector agencies, the Civil Service and Law Enforcement Agencies;the Elections Commission and Anti Corruption Commission, Auditor General’s Office;the Media and the Civil Society Organisations, Political parties and private sectorBusiness.

The methodology and guiding questions applied for the research are developed by Transparency International and are based on the concept of a strong National Integrity System (NIS) to ensure a sustained and strong control over corruption in all areas of the society (Visit http://goo.gl/eALDRV to learn about the NIS concept).

The conceptual framework of the National Integrity System (NIS) stresses the role and interplay of a broader institutional framework of the State, including ‘anti-corruption agents in government, civil society, the business community and other relevant sectors, in ‘building [the] momentum, political will and civic pressure for relevant reform initiatives’ required to reduce and eliminate corruption in public service. Therefore, in assessing the National Integrity System (NIS) of the Maldives, it is important for the assessment to investigate that process, and the outcome of interplay between institutions. This study draws up conclusions and recommendations with due consideration to that interplay. Recommendations provided in this study should be read reflecting on the factors that affect this interplay and its outcomes.

Political bias created through intermingled political thinking and practices embedded in key political institutions, including the Legislature and the Executive, reduces the capacity of other institutions to function independently. Moreover, political bias embedded in the institutional framework further reduces the level of accountability, transparency and integrity functions of almost all the institutions.

The legal framework, starting with the Constitution that provides and guarantees basic rights of people in the Maldivian society, establishes a notable legislative framework for the good governance of socio-economic activities. However, the broader legal framework lacks adequate organisational structures and capabilities, and this weakens the adaptive efficiency of that legal framework to practically execute institutional tasks in the most effective manner. Further, this institutional weakness lies with weak historical institutions or traditionally transmitted historical undemocratic constitutional rules that are embedded in the current political system. The Maldives only created a democratic political system after the enactment of its first-ever democratic Constitution in 2008. Prior to that, the Maldives followed a Constitution that was built on pre-1965 monarchical practices, and encompassed a Constitutional Government with weak political institutions, vesting excessive powers in the rulers or policy-makers. Although the Constitution of 2008 created a democratic Constitutional Government, the traditionally transmitted undemocratic political practices are also embedded in the new politico-institutional framework, thus weakening the overall institutional framework, and leaving room for misgovernance and political malpractices. Hence, the political and legal institutions in place to govern the society are also weakened, reducing their capacity to create and uphold national integrity.

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National Integrity System Assessment, Maldives 2014


– HA. Dhidhoo, December 2013 – The sand bags piled on HA.Dhidhoo island’s beach to restrict erosion are visible from

Zubaidha Abdul Razzak’s front door. The mother of four said the ocean used to be

250 feet away from the house, but now, during stormy weather, waves lap at her front

door.

“The water in my well is salty. It corrodes the taps, and my children have had hair fall

and skin problems because we shower with groundwater,” she said.

The main sources of water on Dhidhoo – an island of approximately 5000 people and

a land area of 85 hectares – are groundwater, rainwater, and in recent years, bottled

water. The groundwater in the island has become salty and contaminated due to

erosion, overuse, and sewage water being pumped into the ground. In May during the

dry season, the island now runs out of potable water. A population boom,

mismanagement of water resources and unpredictable rainfall usually has led to this

shortage. According to Dhidhoo Island Council, the government provides up to 90

tonnes of desalinated water (produced in neighboring Kulhudhuffushi Island) to plug

the annual shortage in Dhihdhoo.

PHOTO: Ali Nishan

“The ocean used to be 250

feet away from the house,

but now in stormy weather,

waves lap at my front door”

Resident of HA. Dhidhoo,

Zubaidha Abdul Razzak

 

In 2011, the Government of the United States announced and

signed a memorandum of understanding with the Government of

Maldives for a total of US$ 7.3 million project to provide an

island-wide solid waste management and an island-wide

desalinated water supply system, piped and metered to individual

households in Dhidhoo and LH.Hinnavaru. On 27 September

2011, USAID directly subcontracted the water project to an

American company Chemonics International. For this project the

selection of the project was carried out by the donor directly.

However, with the exception of repeated announcements by the

two most recent US Ambassadors to Maldives, there were no

further news of the solid waste management system.

Furthermore, to date the promised water supply system has not

materialized.

Community Commitment

Public expectations regarding the water project are high on

Dhidhoo. On July 10, 2012, the US Ambassador Patricia Butenis

visited Dhidhoo and pledged to provide a safe water system and

improve the existing sewerage system on the island.

USAID had chosen Dhidhoo and Hinnavaru Islands as the same

agency had installed a sewerage system in Dhidhoo and assisted

in the installation of a 30 tonne desalination plant in Hinnavaru

in 2010.
According to Ministry of Environment and Energy (MEE),

Chemonics International carried out several studies during 2012

– the first year of the project.

One such study, titled “A financial analysis of waterand sewer

infrastructure alternatives”, completed in May 2012, detailed out

the financial capacity to operate the planned water supply

system. The study concluded that there were insufficient funds

for a piped water network and recommended alternative methods

such as having a truck transport water to households. Chemonics

International proposed to install a central water supply using rainwater storage in community water tanks by means of

community tap bay.

However, MEE rejected the proposal, reminding USAID that the

original project proposal approved by government was to install

a piped and metered water supply to every household in both

Hinnavaru and Dhidhoo. The ministry said these plans had

already been communicated to the island councils as well as the

beneficiary communities and said the project must be

implemented according to the approved scope.

In December 2012, USAID informed the Government only US$

1 million remained for infrastructure development.

After several discussions and negotiations, in May 2013, USAID

agreed to allocate an additional US$ 3 million for infrastructure

development; a figure only sufficient for a piped network in

Hinnavaru, only one of the two islands. The government was left

with the task of explaining to the community of Dhidhoo that the

project will not proceed due to insufficient funds while at the

same time it is unclear why this happened.

Lack of information

Dhidhoo, as the capital of Haa Alif atoll and comprising a large

population, is a priority island for the government. However, the

government had not included provisions for a water system for

Dhidhoo in the state budget due to the USAID project.

Dhidhoo Island council member Abdulla Siraj criticized USAID

saying: “For a long time we were unaware of what was going on.

They come to this island every two months, but we don’t see

what they do. Are they trying to show us a dream?” he said.

Expectations are high on the island, Siraj said adding, “Everyone

knows the money has been allocated. The US Ambassador came

here. There is a project office, but we do not know what is

happening. Of the total amount for the two islands, we do not

know how much was allocated for Dhidhoo”



PHOTO: Transparency Maldives

Zubaidha Abdul Razzak’s home – the ocean used to be 250 feet away but now, during stormy weather waves lap at her front door.


Raising awareness for phantom projects


Donors must not allocate funds for soft components if there is no

money for infrastructure, the MEE has said.

“During this project, a lot of money has been spent on studying

various options with various consultants. Similar studies have

been done in other islands. I do not believe such studies need to

be done every single time,” a Director General at MEE said.

While the studies were ongoing, Chemonics International has

subcontracted local NGO Live and Learn to conduct awareness

projects on the island. A Live and Learn Staff Usman Ashraf said

he has conducted three awareness projects this year on water

management and safe use of drinking water. These activities are

now being questioned as the final project is not being delivered

and furthermore seen as wasteful as the issue of lack of funds for

infrastructure component is raised by the donor. “They have

wasted the allocated money on staff salaries, awareness programs

and useless studies,” Siraj said.

Donors must understand the scope of the projects they commit to,

MEE said. “When we say we want a piped network, they have to

understand what it means. We have emails and communications

that very clearly states that the government wants a piped

network in Dhidhoo and a piped network is expensive,” they

said.

According to MEE, the project had also been impacted due to the

USAID focal point changing over time and different individuals

visiting the Maldives for follow-up visits.

Who should raise the alarm bell?

Had Chemonics International been reporting to the MEE, the

ministry could have intervened to stop use of funds on repetitive

studies. The contractors did not report to directly to MEE on a

regular basis because the project was implemented outside the

normal Government procedures. Projects are audited by the

Auditor General’s Office only by specific request of the donor.

Alternatively such projects would be audited by a private audit

firm, which may not capture the progress of projects against the

intended work-plan nor analyse the benefit to communities and

adherence to government policies. Such aspects are addressed

by Auditor General’s Office and government encourages more

involvement of AGO in donor funded projects as well. Such

projects also need to be reported on a regular basis to the central

monitoring agency of the government, Office of Programmes

and Projects who conducts onsite monitoring of projects they

oversee. No government agency also visited the island to assess

progress for this project. In addition, keeping the local councils

more informed is also a crucial monitoring strategy. For this

project, Dhidhoo council noted that they never received a

workplan or a copy of the contract made with Chemonics and

thus they were unable to monitor or report any delays.

Dhidhoo’s water project demonstrates the importance of donors

collaborating with the government in project implementation,

monitoring and oversight. Dhidhoo further shows project

designs need to align with community needs, and must be

implemented with the participation of government and local

councils.

Sustainable Solution

Meanwhile, Zubaidha continues to hope for a water system. She

is waiting for a gutter system to be installed in her house so she

can collect rainwater for drinking and cooking.

“But a tank is not a sustainable solution. We want safe water in

our plumbing system too,” she said. “I’m hoping we get potable

water as soon as possible. We are constantly told we will get it

soon, people are constantly coming to survey, but we have not

seen a solution yet.”

Aishath Reetho, Senior Planner at Ministry of Housing and

Infrastructure said the government is now negotiating with a

private party to develop the water and sewerage system in

Dhidhoo under a public-private-partnership model. The private

party is to be offered concessions to build luxury villas in an

uninhabited island in Baa Atoll in return for 400 housing units

and a water and sewerage system in Dhidhoo. If the project is

approved, it will take another two years to complete the water

system. While the community waits for this untested model to

be successful, will they ever know why funds dried up for the

promised project?

Click to view/download the case study


Access to information legislation crucial to fight corruption

PRESS RELEASE

Date: December 29, 2013

The passage of the Access to Information bill by the Parliament today was an important step towards increasing transparency of the state institutions, ensuring greater accountability of public officials, and fighting corruption.

Transparency Maldives hopes that President Abdulla Yamin Abdul Gayoom will expedite the ratification of the bill.We call on all actors and institutions to provide their full support towards successfully implementing the law once ratified.

 

ENDS

 

For all media queries, please contact Advocacy and Communications Manager, Aiman Rasheed on 00 960 7908967.

 

The press release is linked here in English and Divehi


Transparency Maldives conducted the Parliament Watch project from March 2010 to March 2011 in partnership with local NGO Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN). Though the Parliament Watch project is jointly implemented, this report is produced solely by Transparency Maldives.

The aim of the Parliament Watch project is to make the Parliament accountable through increased and effective monitoring of the legislative processes and routine workings of the Parliament as well as to lobby for specific changes in bills relating to governance and human rights. Though advocacy to amend bills was a joint effort of both Transparency Maldives and MDN, Transparency Maldives focused mostly on governance related bills whereas MDN focused on bills relating to human rights.

Transparency Maldives advocated for changes to most of the 32 bills passed by Parliament in the year 2010, focusing extensively on Decentralization Act, Local Council Elections Act, Right to Information Bill, Political Party Bill and Maldives Broadcasting Corporation Act.

Parliament Watch: An Evaluation of the Parliament of Maldives report is produced by Transparency Maldives under the Parliament Watch project funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Read the full report here: Parliament Watch: An Evaluation of the Parliament of Maldives 2010


rti_position_paper

 

Transparency Maldives developed a Position Paper (Dhivehi Language) based on the previously submitted comments on the RTI draft bill by TM to the parliament and international best practices. The Paper lays out the fundamental principles on freedom of information that a well-functioning RTI legislation must uphold. The Ministry of Gender, Family and Human Rights, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives, the Prosecutor General, the Auditor General and the Anti Corruption Commission have since endorsed the position paper. The position paper was submitted to the parliament on 24th October 2012.

 

Download the Paper

rti_position_paper


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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