Transparency Maldives (TM), in its submission to the UN Human Rights Council’s (HRC) Universal Periodic Review (UPR), notes with concern the declining human rights situation in the Maldives and calls on the State to immediately initiate reforms to prevent further deterioration and commit to a path that is in line with the Maldives’ international obligations.

In its 2014 submission, TM noted a marked decline in civil and political rights protection, resulting in the constriction of democratic space afforded to civil society. There exist significant threats to freedom of association, expression and media during the review period as the State has become increasingly intolerant of dissent. Of note are the attacks to parliamentarians, journalists, and media outlets, resulting in the murder of a parliamentarian and the maiming of another, as well as the deadly attacks on journalists and the disappearance of one journalist, and arson and other attacks to media houses. The 2013 Presidential elections further underlined the delicate and unpredictable nature of the right to participate in public affairs and democratic government, where interference in electoral processes by State institutions led to multiple delays of scheduled elections and annulment of elections, which were widely reported as free and fair.

Additionally, TM also notes the Maldives’ Human Rights Commission are currently on trial via a Suo Motu case initiated by the Supreme Court, as a result of critical comments on the state of the country’s judiciary in its submission to the 2014 UPR.

To prevent further deterioration of the HR situation, TM calls on the State to: 1. Cease intimidation of civil society and State independent institutions; 2. Put in place mechanisms to protect freedom of association and ensure protection of journalists and media houses; 3. Address legal discrepancies and inconsistencies due to the Supreme Court annulment of Presidential Election 2013, which could in the future, hamper electoral processes; 4. Address the governance and human rights issues faced by migrant workers by ratifying ICRMW, including all ILO conventions; and 5. Implement recommendations put forth by the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers.

Since the initial recommendations from the 2010 UPR, the Maldives has taken positive steps to improve the human rights situation on the ground in some areas. It has made positive changes to key legislation such as the passing of the Anti-human Trafficking Act and Right to Information Act.

Despite commitments for reform following the 2010 UPR process, we observe that key institutional failures have stifled democratic consolidation and the Government has failed to fully implement many accepted recommendations. This has resulted in the Maldives lagging behind in adherence to international human rights standards.

TM hopes that its submission proves useful to the Maldives in implementing and reviewing recommendations, and also to UN member states, international and domestic organisations working to protect and promote human rights in the country. TM looks forward to constructively engaging with the Maldivian Government and civil society partners in the implementation of recommendations from the second cycle.

TM’s first engagement with the UPR was in 2010, with a joint civil society submission to the Maldives review. The UPR is a UN lead mechanism that takes place every four years to review the human rights situation of all UN member countries. This is the second cycle of review for Maldives and will take place on 6 May 2015 at the 22nd session of the UPR Working Group.

ENDS

Note: TM’s full UPR submission can be viewed here.
Summary of TM’s report can be viewed here.
Background information on the UPR can be viewed here.
Maldives’ national report to the UPR can be viewed here.

View/download this press release in English and Dhivehi

Transparency Maldives appreciates the acknowledgement of integrity as a fundamental premise to a healthy society and, is honoured to have received the 2015 National Integrity Award under the civil society category, from the Anti-Corruption Commission. Transparency Maldives also congratulates the Anti-Corruption Commission for their effort to mark and celebrate 21 April 2015 as the first national anti-corruption day.

While Transparency Maldives appreciates the efforts to acknowledge our core values and community services, we reiterate that upholding the integrity of independent institutions is an integral mandate of high ranking public posts in these independent institutions. As such, we call upon the Heads of independent institutions to refrain from accepting arbitrary gratuities from the Government.

We urge independent institutions to safeguard from undue influence and allegations of bribery and corruption in order to uphold the value of integrity and increase public confidence in independent institutions.

ENDS.

For media queries, please contact Legal Assistant, Ibrahim Riza (967 6060).

View/download in Dhivehi and English.




Democracy Camps 2015

First Camp: 06 June 2015 – 12th June 2015

Second Camp: 29th August 2015 – 4th September 2015

The deadline for applications for both camps is 10th May 2015, 4:00 pm.

View/download the Call for Applications in English and Dhivehi
View/download the Application Form in English and Dhivehi 

1. 
Introduction
Transparency Maldives in partnership with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) is conducting a Democracy Camp from 6th to 12th June 2015, and 29th August – 03rd September 2015. The 6-day camps will be held at a Kaafu Girifushi. The primary goal of the camp is to enhance the participants’ knowledge on civic education, rights and responsibilities of a citizen, democracy, human rights and various social issues. The camp will aim to provide participants with the knowledge and tools to actively engage in community initiatives and encourage responsible citizenship and civic engagement. The main content of the training would include (but will not be limited to): – Democratic principles- Human Rights- Civic participation and engagement- Tolerance, ethics and learning to live together- Leadership and life skills

About organizers
Transparency Maldives
Transparency Maldives is a non–partisan organization that promotes good governance and advocates to eliminate corruption from the daily lives of the Maldivian people. Transparency Maldives engages in a wide range of activities to incorporate and advocate for good governance, stop corruption and to promote democracy and civic participation at the local and national level. Transparency Maldives seeks to engage with stakeholders from all sectors (government, business, politics, civil society, media, among others) to raise awareness on corruption’s detrimental effects on development and society.

IFES
International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) is an international, nonprofit organization that supports citizens’ right to participate in free and fair elections by providing technical assistance to election officials; empowering the underrepresented to participate in the political process; and applying field-based research to improve the electoral cycle. Since 1987, IFES has developed and implemented comprehensive, collaborative democracy solutions in more than 135 countries. IFES is implementing a program to provide civic education for young people, promote women’s political participation and promote the integrity of electoral and political processes through electoral reform.

2. Overall Objectives
– Increase knowledge of human rights, democratic principles and civic participation amongst young people.
– Promote youth leadership, civic engagement, and participation in public life by providing youth with the skills to take initiative and engage in issues important to them.

3. Application
Interested Applicants between 14-16 years of age are invited to submit a completed application form, copies of recent academic certificates/report cards and copy of ID card to the following:

Email: application@transparencymaldives.org

Post Address:
Transparency Maldives
MF Building, 07th Floor
Chaandhanee Magu
Male’
Fax: 300, 6062

The deadline for applications for both camps is 10th May 2015, 4:00 pm.

4. Contact Us
Project Coordinator
Shifza Omar
Tel no: 300 4017
Email: application@transparencymaldives.org
Website: www.transparency.mv


Transparency Maldives (TM) notes with concern the recent allotment of flats to public officials holding high-ranking state positions.

The flats from the recently built luxury Rehendhi Residency have been contracted, below market rate, to public officials holding high-ranking positions  including chairs of selected independent oversight bodies and judges.

The State can provide privileges to state officials based on need and limited to the duration of employment of individuals, and as specified in the Constitution and law. However, it is concerning that these flats are to be permanently contracted by the Executive to public officials holding time-bound positions of the state. The offering of arbitrary privileges to public officials holding high-ranking positions and the acceptance of such privileges, will undermine public trust in these institutions.

TM also notes that upholding integrity in the performance of high-ranking public posts is an integral and core mandate of such positions and should not be incentivized through handouts of property or other forms of personal enrichment. Gratuities given to state officials by the Government can be perceived as a move by the Executive to assert undue influence over other branches of the state and independent state institutions.

TM calls on the Executive to refrain from arbitrarily providing any form of gratuities and privileges to state officials and in the process unduly influencing other branches of the state and independent state institutions.

ENDS

For media queries, please contact Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre Coordinator, Ahid Rasheed (974 1443)

View/download the statement in Dhivehi and English.


Transparency Maldives (TM) notes with grave concern the sentencing of former President Mohamed Nasheed to 13 years in prison on charges of terrorism, despite a number of irregularities in the legal process, under which the trial took place.

TM notes with concern that despite calls for fair legal process, President Nasheed was denied legal representation, denied right to appeal, his legal team denied adequate time to build a defence against the new charges of terrorism, President Nasheed’s defence witnesses were refused, and serious issues of conflict of interest were prevalent in the case. Conflict of interest issues we note include two of the three judges presiding over the trial having acted as witnesses for the prosecution and the Prosecutor General who levied the new terrorism charges against President Nasheed having acted as a prosecution witness for the previous charge against President Nasheed. These procedural irregularities raise serious questions about the fairness, transparency and independence of the judicial process followed and the provision of the accused’s inalienable right to a fair trial.

TM calls on state actors to accord President Nasheed with full legal rights in the appeal process including adequate time and access; and calls on the state to address increasing concerns regarding the fairness and independence of the justice system in the Maldives.

Furthermore, TM calls on all state actors to uphold democratic principles and international conventions the Maldives is party to; and calls on the public and law enforcement agencies to exercise restraint and calm in order to mitigate further deterioration of the security situation in the Maldives.

ENDS


We are pleased to announce that the Transparency Maldives publication ‘Assessment of Women’s Development Committees in the Maldives’ is being launched today to mark the International Women’s Day.

Women’s Development Committees (WDC) are a traditional women’s institution in the Maldives, and are an important platform for women to enter into politics and participate in the decision making process of island development. Despite the fact that WDCs are unable to operate as mandated in the Decentralisation Act, it is paramount that WDCs continue to exist and adequate support mechanisms are developed to steer WDCs to fulfil their mandate.

TM’s Assessment of Women’s Development Committees in the Maldives indicates that financial and resource constraints, poor working relationships with the Island Councils and negative public perception towards women in public life are the main challenges faced by Women’s Development Committees (WDCs) across the Maldives.

The following is a list of recommendations based on our research findings:

  1. Councils must consult WDCs as stipulated in the Decentralisation Act
  2. Clarify the role of regulatory bodies and support structures in relation to WDCs
  3. Build the capacity of WDCs to equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills
  4. Island Councils should develop resource sharing mechanisms to support WDCs
  5. Provide financial support for WDCs and secure additional sources of funding
  6. Men should be able to contest in and vote for WDC elections

The recommendations identified in the Assessment intend to provide a basis for the development of strategic actions that promote the role, participation and representation of women in public life. It is hoped that the findings from this assessment provide further impetus for the relevant authorities to establish better coordination amongst stakeholders to meet the needs of WDCs and to implement effective capacity building initiatives.

ENDS

View/download the Assessment of Women’s Development Committees in the Maldives


PRESS STATEMENT

Male’ — February 25, 2015 — Transparency Maldives (TM) notes with concern the escalating political tensions in the Maldives, especially following the recent arrests of former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim. TM appeals to all actors to uphold the rule of law and the Constitution at all times, and engage in dialogue to resolve political disputes.

TM calls on the state and government institutions to ensure that the ongoing cases against former President Nasheed and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim are carried out under fair and transparent legal proceedings, free from politicisation and in accordance with the principles of justice. We particularly note with concern that President Nasheed was denied right to legal representation during the court hearing on 23 February 2015.
Furthermore, TM calls on all state actors to follow due process entitled to all Maldivian citizens and to uphold democratic principles at all times in resolving political disputes. TM fears that if the rising political tensions are not resolved peacefully and within the constitutional remit, the political situation of the country may deteriorate further.

ENDS

For media queries, please contact Legal Assistant, Ibrahim Riza on +960 967 6060 or ibrahim.riza@transparencymaldives.org.

View/download the press statement in English and Dhivehi


Transparency Maldives (TM) notes with grave concern the increasing trend of undermining democratic practices and institutions by the State including the recent move to reduce the number of judges in the Supreme Court; the sudden removal of the Auditor General by the parliament; and the resolution  of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) calling to handover the presidency to Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Hon. Gasim Ibrahim.

Amendment to the Judicature Act and reducing the number of judges

TM fears that the recent amendment to the Judicature Act to reduce the number of judges from 7 to 5 followed by the recommendation by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to remove two sitting Justices will further undermine the independence of the judiciary.

The impartiality and independence of the Supreme Court (SC) is not solely decided by the number of Supreme Court Justices but rather by the upholding of judicial integrity and principles. Any move to reform the judiciary must be sincere and look at the entire judicial system, especially the judicial watchdog body, JSC, so that meaningful and real reform may take place.

The decision by the JSC to remove Chief Justice Abdulla Faiz and Justice Muthasim Adnan without publicising the criteria against which they were evaluated raises questions about the transparency and fairness of the process. The criteria used must be objective, based on merit, transparent and well-publicised so that any public concerns about the process may be addressed. TM also notes that the amendments to the Judicature Act allows JSC to override due procedure denying the right of Supreme Court Justices to defend themselves before their dismissal. TM calls on state authorities to refrain from any action that will further undermine the independence and integrity of the judiciary.

Amendment to the Audit Act and removal of the Auditor General

TM notes that the recent amendment to the Audit Act which abruptly ended the tenure of the sitting Auditor General, before the Constitutionally mandated seven-year term serves to undermine the independence of the Auditor General’s Office. Furthermore, the amendment circumvents Article 218 of the Constitution, which prescribes that the only grounds for removal of the Auditor General before the end of his term are misconduct, incapacity or incompetence. It must be noted that the passing of the amendment and the consequent removal of the Auditor General coincided with the release of an incriminating audit report against a Government Minister. TM calls on state authorities to ensure that heads of independent state institutions are given the autonomy to do their mandated work free from insecurity.

Decree by MDP on transferring power to JP leader

TM condemns the resolution passed by the opposition, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), calling to handover the presidency to the leader of Jumhooree Party, Hon. Ibrahim Gasim, in the midst of the water crisis, as it attempts to destabilize the elected government and infers overriding the electoral processes stipulated in the Constitution. TM reminds that any change in government should only be brought by a vote of the people and calls on state parties to not undermine the electoral processes of the country.

TM calls on all organs of the state, including political parties, to uphold, respect and operate within the boundaries of the Constitution, and democratic norms and principles.

ENDS

For media queries, please contact Advocacy and Communications Manager, Aiman Rasheed (790 8967).

View/download the statement in English and Dhivehi.


I applied to Transparency Maldives for an internship because I wanted to do something meaningful during my time back home for summer break from university studies. It proved to be an invaluable experience that helped to broaden my skill set and improve my understanding of the contemporary sociopolitical issues in the Maldives. The experience would not have been the same without my colleagues who were supportive and challenged me to get the most out of the internship.

Symposium on Freedom of Association

I did an array of different work during my three month internship at TM. I was able to improve my administrative skills by assisting to arrange advocacy stakeholder meetings undertaken to review the Association Act. I also did research based tasks such as heading a volunteer team to conduct interviews with Women’s Development Committees; and later in analyzing data.The highlight of my internship would probably be travelling with TM to conduct civic education workshops in Thaa atoll. This provided me with the chance to meet a lot of interesting people and in return learn from them as well. Towards the end of my internship I assisted in organizing the ‘Symposium on Freedom of Association’ which was challenging and at the same time very inspirational. Through my internship I gained valuable insight into how a civil society organisation engages at both policy level and grassroots level.

Aminath Saany Naseer
Civic Participation Project


Interning for Transparency Maldives for two months during university holidays allowed me to improve my skills and gain experience at an organization making a significant impact in our society. Although I expected my time in TM to be a lot of paperwork and filing cabinets (as per all intern jobs) I was quickly proven wrong by a very supportive team around whom it was hard to feel like an intern; I not only felt like I was being listened to, but that what I said made an impact in the project. Throughout my entire time with Transparency Maldives, I was given engaging and meaningful work that made me feel like I was not only learning, but actively contributing to the organization’s goals.


Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Right to Information Conference 2014, held in Kurumba Maldives


Sara facilitated a Democracy Talks session for students in Addu Atoll Education Centre

My time in TM coincided with a series of Monitoring and Evaluation trips around Maldives, and I was excited to accompany the team on two of them: to S.Meedhoo and Gn.Fuvahmulah. Both of the trips were an opportunity to learn about a more practical hands-on side of the work TM does and of course, a much deserved break from the office! The trips gave me crucial knowledge into how community projects and nonprofit organizations worked. I particularly enjoyed co-facilitating Democracy Talks in the schools as it was a chance to engage with the children and raise awareness about positive citizens and democracy.The chance to help in the organization of an international symposium on the Right to Information towards the end of my internship was definitely the highlight of my time in TM. Overseeing the logistical details of the conference was particularly demanding, educational and rewarding.

Sara Naseem
Civic Participation Project Intern


Transparency Maldives is organising a poster competition themed “Corruption Robs Us All” to commemorate the International Anti-Corruption Day – 9th December 2014.

You should articulate and draw attention to corruption and its detrimental affects on people on their everyday life. You can focus on separate sectors (e.g. youth, women, health, education, housing, etc) or on development generally.
Who can take part in the Competition?
  • The competition is open for everyone.
How to submit your poster: 
  • You must send in your posters with entry form on or before 30th November 2014 by 5:00pm, to the following address:
                                        Transparency Maldives
                                        7th Floor, MF Building
                                        Chandhanee Magu
                                        Male’, Maldives
For more information, call 300 4017 or mail to alac@transparencymaldives.org
What are the rules of the Competition?
  • Posters must incorporate creative and original artwork and ideas. Depictions of cartoon, video game, and movie/television characters; celebrities; movie themes; and past poster designs do not constitute creativity and originality;
  • Posters must be no larger than A2 (59.4 X 42 cm) and no smaller than A4 (29.7 X 21 cm).
  • You should refrain from writing your name or other identifying information on the front of your poster;
  • Your poster can be designed using illustration, photography, typography, mixed media or any graphic design technique you choose.
  • Avoid using any copyrighted or trademarked materials or objects as elements of your design. Computer clip art, pictures from magazines and other print media, or any other copyrighted brand or product images will not be accepted;
  • By submitting a poster, participants give permission for their work to be displayed at various Transparency Maldives events, in publications and promotional material, and in electronic format on the internet;
  • Failure to comply with the guidelines could result in a disqualification of the poster.
  • Scanned files should be not more than 5MB and not less than 1MB.
Selection and Prize:
  • The posters will be judged based on the following criteria
1. Relation to the theme – 30%
2. Artistry – 10%
3. Creativity – 20%
4. Originality – 10%
5. Ability to communicate a clear and positive message – 30%
  • The winning entries shall receive the following prize:
                                     First prize: MVR 7,000
                                     Second Prize: MVR 4,000
                                     Third Prize: MVR 2,500
  • Selected posters will be displayed at an exhibition to commemorate the 2014 Anti-Corruption Day.

 


Transparency Maldives’ (TM) survey, Democracy at the Crossroads, points to a crisis of public confidence in key democratic institutions. Citizens are cynical. Politicians, they think, lie to get elected and they don’t believe that the government cares about ordinary people.
The nationwide survey aims to encourage informed debate of democratic norms and about the performance of democratic institutions.
“This [the survey] shows that citizens are less likely to meaningfully participate in public matters and in holding public officials accountable. If so, it will ultimately lead to impunity and corruption,” Mariyam Shiuna, Executive Director of TM said.

Crisis of confidence

Citizens lack confidence in their key representative institutions. 62% of survey respondents say they have no confidence at all in the parliament. And 58% have no confidence in political parties. 50% and 46% citizens lack confidence in local governments and courts respectively. These results are similar to TM’s Global Corruption Barometer surveys from 2012 and 2013.
77% of Maldivians identify “politics,” which includes conflict, corruption and the party system, as the most important problem facing the country. Half of the public is dissatisfied with the way democracy operates in the Maldives.
Maldivians give political leaders a low rating. None rate better than average.

Cynicism, democratic values and social order

86% of Maldivians say that the government does not care about ordinary people and 92% of Maldivians believe that politicians are “ready to lie to get elected”, showing extraordinarily high levels of cynicism in comparison to similar transitional democracies.
Citizens are critical of the social order: 84% think that power is concentrated in the hands of too few people.  The good news is that 90% of the public believe dialogue is the way to solve the country’s problems. The bad news is that 1 in 3 think that violence is sometimes a necessary response to social injustice.
Maldivians are not enthusiastic about gender equality. A majority think men make better leaders than women. Remarkably, more women than men support the idea that men make better leaders than women.

Is there hope?

“Democratic institutions must take extraordinary measures to regain the trust of the public and the public must step up to hold public officials to account,” said Aiman Rasheed, Advocacy and Communications Manager. “Levels of confidence in institutions is a key indicator of the levels of corruption in a system,” he added.
This is the first systematic survey on democracy conducted in the Maldives and provides important benchmark data. The random sample of approximately 1,000 citizens provides a margin of error of +/- 3.0% and the findings are generalisable to the entire country. The questions asked come from surveys that have been repeatedly used and tested around the world.
ENDS
For all media queries, please contact Advocacy and Communications Manager, Aiman Rasheed (00 960 7908967).

Click to view/download the report ‘Democracy at the Crossroads’ 

Click to view/download this statement in Dhivehi
Click to view/download this statement in English