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Maldives has had five-year development plans, but no overall long term plans. Development currently depends on promises by political parties. As often happens, even existing land use plans (drawn up for some islands) are swept away to fit party pledges.

Using the following foreign and local investments that have faced difficulty over the recent years due to ad hoc policies and government changes, this governance update will attempt to highlight the dangers of pledge-based development plans compounded by a lack of national and regional development plans. 

Cases referred to in this governance update includes: the airports that has been pledged to be built in Dhigulaabaadhoo and Khulhudhuffushi; Gulhi Falhu development project; the GMR airport deal and the Tsunami aid cases.

Read the full governance bulletin here: CFIP Governance bulletin 06 – 2016

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

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

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

View/download the Maldives Migrant Worker System Assessment


To President, Cabinet Ministers, Members of the Parliament, Members of constitutional bodies, Members of institutions, and officials of state-owned enterprises:

We write this petition to request you to declare and publicly disclose your assets in order to enhance transparency and integrity of public officials, and to increase public trust in the state and oversight bodies. We believe asset declarations are crucial in ensuring that personal interests of public officials do not conflict with their duties and responsibilities. Asset declarations also help to identify cases of illicit enrichment, so that a public official may legitimately be held accountable. Therefore, we call on you to declare your assets in accordance with the law, and to disclose your assets by publishing on the website of your respective offices.

Call on your public officials to declare and disclose their assets to the public, sign the petition!

Why this is important

Asset declaration requires a certain category of public officials––also identified as “politically exposed persons” to describe individuals entrusted with prominent public functions––to disclose their financial and business interests. The principle goal of asset declaration is to combat corruption––in particular, illicit enrichment––and promote transparency and accountability of the governance system.

The Maldivian Constitution requires the President, Cabinet Ministers, Members of the Parliament, and Judges to annually submit their financial and business interests. Members of constitutional bodies such as the Anti-Corruption Commission, Judicial Service Commission and Elections Commission are also required to submit their asset declaration documents. However, there is no legal provision for the following officials to submit their declarations:

  • Vice President
  • Auditor General
  • Information Commissioner
  • Members of other constitutional bodies such as Human Rights Commission of the Maldives and Civil Service Commission
  • Members of institutions such as Maldives Media Council, Maldives Broadcasting Commission, Police Integrity Commission, and Customs Integrity Commission
  • Officials of state-owned enterprises

While this is one key weakness of the current asset declaration regime, other key weaknesses include lack of accountability and lack of transparency.

Despite the constitutional provisions that mandate some public officials to declare their assets, there are no punitive measures legally prescribed to those who violate this provision. This lack of accountability puts these public officials above the law and encourages a culture of impunity to thrive unchecked. While some officials submit the documents regularly, others do not submit at all, thus rendering the system ineffective.

Furthermore, the main objective of asset declaration is to enhance transparency and integrity of public officials and restore the trust of citizens in the government and oversight bodies. The fulfilment of this objective, however, is currently impossible since the declared information is not made available to the public. Public disclosure gives the media, civil society groups, and the wider public an increased role in holding public officials to account.


Transparency Maldives thanks friendly nations, the Government of the Maldives, local businesses, civil society organisations, and the public for their continued efforts to provide water aid to residents of Malé, in response to  the water crisis following the incident of fire at Malé Water Sewerage Company (MWSC) on 4 December.

In order to avoid further escalation of the social, economic and political repercussions stemming from the water crisis, Transparency Maldives calls on the Government and MWSC to be more transparent in their efforts to provide aid and to overcome the crisis.

The following issues must be addressed by the Government and MWSC (a joint venture company that has 80 per cent government shares and whose board is appointed by the government) in order to be transparent and accountable to the public:

  • The Government must publicly provide a breakdown of the estimated US$20 million (more than MVR300 million) needed to overcome the crisis, and how the government intends to spend it. Furthermore, the decision to seek donations from the public raises questions given that MWSC is a private, profit-making corporation with 80 per cent government shares.

 

  • Transparency Maldives calls on the Government and MWSC to conduct an independent, transparent, and technical investigation into the 4 December fire incident; make the findings public; and establish effective and preventative mechanisms to ensure such incidents do not occur again. The investigation must scrutinise MWSC’s risk mitigation policy and asset management plan.

The current situation demonstrates the interminable relationship between good governance and citizens’ right to essential human needs. Therefore, Transparency Maldives believes that it is the responsibility of the government to hold accountable and to ensure that MWSC and other companies that provide essential services, such as the State Electric Company Limited (STELCO) and FENAKA Corporation  Limited, have mechanisms in place to review their working procedures so that similar incidents can be avoided in the future. These accountability measures must incorporate company boards and relevant state regulatory bodies.

ENDS

For all media queries, please contact Advocacy and Communications Manager, Aiman Rasheed (7908967).

View/download this press statement in Dhivehi and English


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 mis-governance 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.

View/download our press statement on NIS in Dhivehi.
View/download the National Integrity System Assessment, Maldives 2014

Download
National Integrity System Assessment, Maldives 2014


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


PRELIMINARY STATEMENT
MALE — (23 March 2014) — Transparency Maldives (TM) appreciates and thanks all observers and volunteers in our observer network, based in 20 atolls and Colombo and Kuala Lumpur. The observers were key to the success of the observation. TM hopes that an independent observation effort at this scale has instilled greater levels of trust  in our electoral processes. The results we report are based on random sampling and are generalisable to the entire country.

1. Polling day
The election day processes were transparent and generally well-administered. We are happy to report that the election has been peaceful with just one reported incident of violence inside a polling station. TM congratulates Maldivian citizens for their spirited engagement in the democratic process.

The following are the key findings which we would like to highlight from our observation. 83.52% of polling stations closed within the first hour of the normal closing time of 4:00 p.m.

Voter registry was overall very clean, with a very few cases where people were not able to vote because their names were not on the voter registry or their details did not match. Assisted voters were spread across 84.1% of the polling stations.

Voting was temporarily halted in 2.4% of polling stations. 75% of these cases were interventions at the direction of the Presiding Officer while 25% were interventions by an unruly voter.

We note that the police entered 12.35% of polling stations. However, in 100% of such cases, interventions occurred at the invitation of the Presiding Officer as the rules allow.

Candidates were well-represented during the counting, making the process transparent and adding to its credibility. Maldivian Democratic Party was represented at 89.4% of polling stations during the vote count. Coalition parties were represented at 88.8% of polling stations during the vote count. Only 5.9% of polling stations did not have a party/candidate observer present at the opening of the polls.

Unresolved disputes were reported at only 5.3% ballot boxes at the time of announcing results.

However, TM calls on all actors to take immediate measures to address wider issues, including vote buying, lack of transparency in political finance, abuse of state resources, barriers for women’s equal participation in the electoral processes, and bring long overdue reforms to the electoral legal framework.

2. Vote buying
In a survey conducted by TM in the run up to 2013 presidential elections, 15% of respondents reported that money or other incentives were offered in exchange for their vote. Admissions about illegal activities such as this are usually underreported in surveys. TM’s long-term observation indicates that vote buying may be even more widespread in the parliamentary elections than other elections.

Inability of state institutions to prosecute vote buying due to gaps in the electoral legal framework, lack of coordination, and buck-passing between the relevant institutions have allowed rampant vote buying to go unchecked.

TM recommends to all relevant institutions to monitor, investigate and prosecute vote buying through implementation of the existing legal provisions and recommends to the Parliament to bring urgent reforms to the laws to better address the issue.

3. Lack of Political and Campaign Finance Transparency
Deep flaws in the standards, practices and poor oversight have led to the lack of transparency in political and campaign financing in elections, including the parliamentary elections. When political parties and individual candidates do not fully disclose where they get their money from, it is not clear who funds them, what their potential conflict of interests are, and, thereby allows vested interests to override public interest when elected as MPs.  Similarly, Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer surveys for the Maldives continue to indicate a crisis of public trust in the Parliament. Increasing campaign financing transparency in parliamentary elections is crucial to hold parliamentarians to account, in order to prevent the hijack of the institution by vested interests and regain public trust in the Parliament .

TM recommends addressing the gaps in the electoral legal framework and implementation of existing provisions to facilitate public scrutiny, ensure periodic reporting and an effective oversight mechanism for political finance.

4. Women Political Participation
Only 23 women out of 302 candidates contested the Parliamentary Elections, out of which only five were elected according to the provisional results. The Maldives is currently ranked 129th place in the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s index of parliaments in terms of gender balance. Relevant authorities should identify and address the barriers for women’s equal political participation.

5. Other Issues
Additional issues that need to be addressed are:

  1. Abuse of state resources and authority by successive regimes, allowing those in power to campaign at the expense of the public purse;
  2. Constituency delineation legal framework and processes that result in assignation of voters to constituencies not based on their domiciled residencies, robbing voters of effective representation;
  3. Instances where secrecy of the ballot  may be compromised when a few people are registered to outside their constituencies (for example, 2,947 cases of single voters; 1,070 cases of two voters; and, 502 cases of three voters);
  4. Lack of effective  long-term voter and civic education on issues such as vote buying, political finance transparency and equality of women in political participation; and,
  5. Uncertainties arising from the role of the judiciary in elections and, in particular, the 16-point guideline issued by the Supreme Court. TM reiterates that the guideline does  not improve upon the technical aspects of the election and recommends that any concerns the guideline intends to tackle be addressed through legislative reforms and within constitutional boundaries.

Transparency Maldives congratulates all winning candidates and urges all relevant actors to reform the electoral systems to increase confidence in and improve electoral systems in the Maldives. A final report on the findings with recommendations will be published within a month of conclusion of elections.

ENDS

For media queries, please contact Advocacy and Communications Manager, Aiman Rasheed on 00 960 790 8967.

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


PRESS RELEASE 

Male – (22 March 2014) –Transparency Maldives thanks our observers deployed across the country for their dedication in observing the election processes. Transparency Maldives’ observer network has a wide national coverage spanning resorts, prisons, and abroad in Kuala Lumpur and Colombo.

The results we report are based on random sampling and are generalisable to the entire country. These results are based on the observation at the time of opening of polls.

The opening of the polls was smooth, and the administrative preparation went well. 79% of all polling stations opened by 8.10am, 20% of polling stations opened within the first hour of the required opening time, and 1% of polling stations opened between 9am and 10am.

Nearly all polling station officials were in place at all polling stations.

The materials required for voting were present and the ballot papers were counted at 100% of the polling stations. 100% of ballot boxes were verified as empty at the opening of the polls.

Candidates were well represented at polling stations. Only 10% of the polling stations did not have a party/candidate observer present at the opening of the polls. Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) observers were present at 78% of polling stations while 81% of polling stations had observers from the coalition parties, at the opening of the polls.

Transparency Maldives also notes that police presence was visible at 93% of the observed polling stations at the time of opening.

Observers concluded that the polling stations were set up to ensure a secret vote in 98% of polling stations. Transparency Maldives observers will be closely monitoring the 2% of the polling station where the secrecy of the ballot may be compromised due to the layout of the polling station.

We encourage all parties to maintain the climate of peace. Our observers are working hard at polling stations and will be present at the polling stations until the polls are closed and the results are announced.

ENDS

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

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