An independent government created by the people and its governing structure is based on protecting its citizens’ freedoms and rights. Freedom of press, freedom of expression, access to education, shelter, transportation, clean environments etc. and other provisions of the second chapter of the constitution cannot be completed without the freedom of information.

Citizen participation is a fundamental aspect of a democracy. Citizens cannot participate in the governance of a democratic state without access to information. The constitution provides freedom of thought and speech, within the tenets of Islam, to its citizens. Thought and speech must be based on valid information, thus the right to access valid information is vital to uphold the constitutional right of thought and speech.

A clear majority of Maldivian citizens do not trust the government and its institutions. Similarly, a clear majority of the populace accuses these institutions and political figures of corruption. This trust can be gained through transparency and accessibility to valid information.

Read the position paper ‘Challenges to interpreting and implementing the RTI Act’.


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.


Press Statement by Transparency Maldives

 

24 August 2013

 

Transparency Maldives calls on the Supreme Court judges to maintain integrity of the institution of the Supreme Court and publicise the court order/statements made by the four judges that halted the appointment of Fathimath Reenee Abdul Sattar as a member of the Civil Service Commission and the preceding statement by the Chief Justice.

 

Transparency Maldives remains concerned about the recent actions of judges leading to the loss of public trust in the Supreme Court, especially in the current climate of political instability and in the run up to Maldives’ second multi-party Presidential Elections, where the Supreme Court may be tasked with providing a verdict on contentious issues.

 

Please call Transparency Maldives Advocacy and Communications Manager Aiman Rasheed (+960 790 8967) for queries.

 

Download the official press statement in Dhivehi: Press statement Supreme Court integrity and FOI issues 220813


Promoting Transparency and Accountability through Right to Information (RTI) in the Maldives

Proposal submission deadline: 25 August 2013

 

Dear Sir/Madam,

 

Subject: RFP for developing Right to Information (RTI) awareness campaign based on RTI baseline survey

 

1. You are requested to submit a proposal for developing full-fledged RTI nation wide awareness campaign as per the Terms of Reference (TOR).

 

2. To enable you to submit a proposal, a document with the following details are available for download at the end of this post.

  1. Instructions to Offerors ….. (Annex I)
  2. General Conditions of Contract …… (Annex II)
  3. Terms of Reference (TOR) ……. (Annex III)
  4. Proposal Submission Form ….. (Annex IV)
  5. Price Schedule ………. (Annex V)

3. Your offer comprising of technical proposal and financial proposal, in separate sealed envelopes, should reach the following address no later than Sunday, 25 August 2013 at or before 16:00 hrs local time and please call us if you need more information.

 

RTI Project

Transparency Maldives

MF Building 7th Floor, Chaandhanee Magu

Male’, Maldives

Tel: +960 330 4017

Fax: +960 300 6062

Email: office@transparencymaldives.org

 

4. If you request additional information, we would endeavor to provide information expeditiously, but any delay in providing such information will not be considered a reason for extending the submission date of your proposal.

 

Download request for proposal

 

 


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


Transparency Maldives and RTI experts meeting with Majlis Social Affairs Committee

 

Transparency Maldives and RTI experts meeting with Majlis Social Affairs Committee.

 

International experts who participated in the RTI Symposium along with staff of Transparency Maldives met with the Social Affairs Committee on 24th October 2012 reinforcing the positions of Transparency Maldives to advocate for the timely passage of a strong RTI Bill and propose amendments to further strengthen the bill. The Committee welcomed Transparency Maldives engagement with the People’s Majlis, especially with the Social Affairs Committee on providing technical support in the development of the bill. The Committee agreed with TM’s recommendations and promised to give full consideration to those recommendations at the committee stage. The group of experts also provided written comments to the RTI Bill based on the discussions with the Committee.

 

In addition to meeting with the Social Affairs Committee Mr. Venkatesh Nayak and Mr Michael Karanicolas also made media appearances to promote RTI in the Maldives. Mr. Nayak appeared on Raajje TV after the English News on 24th October 2012.

 

Mr. Karanicolas appeared on Dhi TV on the same night, along with Transparency Maldives Advocacy and Communication’s Manager, Mr. Aiman Rasheed. Both programs were aired during primetime.

 

Minutes of Social Affairs Committee meeting with Transparency Maldives


speaker_shahid

 

Transparency Maldives organized a symposium on Right to Information with international speakers and panelists as part of a project funded by UNDEF in partnership with UNDP Maldives on 23 October 2012. The specific objectives of the symposium were to: promote RTI as a tool to advance democracy; facilitate sharing of experiences and international best practices; and create demand and culture a deeper appreciation for RTI.

 

The Symposium was attended by President’s Office, state ministers, senior government officials, members of Human Rights Commission, Anti Corruption Commission and Elections Commission, Maldives Police Service, Police Integrity Commission, Prosecutor Generals Office, UNDP, Maldives Post Limited, Maldives Customs Service, Local Government Authority and representatives from the civil society and media.

 

The closing ceremony was attended by Hon Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid, who made a commitment to contribute to expediting the process of passage of the RTI Bill currently at the Social Affairs Committee of the Parliament.

 

Team of Experts

 

intenational_speakersInternational experts from leading organizations on RTI, including the Open Society Justice Initiative (US), Open Democracy Advice Center (South Africa), Center for Law and Democracy (Canada), Central Information Commission of India (former) and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (India).

 

1. Ms. Sandra Colliver, Senior Legal Officer, Open Society Justice Initiative.

2. Mr. Mukelani Dimba, Deputy Executive Director, Open Democracy Advice Centre, South Africa.

3. Mr. Michael Karanicolas, Legal Officer Centre of Law and Democracy.

4. Mr. Sailesh Gandi, former Information Commissioner, Central Information Commission, India

5. Mr. Venkatesh Nayak, Program Coordinator, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, India

6. Uz. Mohamed Anil, Chairperson, Democracy House, Maldives

 

Sessions conducted at the symposium

 

The following sessions were conducted at the symposium.

  1. Right to Information and Democracy – history of RTI, importance of RTI in democratic governance and history of RTI in Maldives.
  2. Administering an RTI regime – practical aspect of administering an RTI regime, appeal processes, redress mechanisms, archiving and challenges faced.
  3. Local governance and RTI – importance of building relationship between democratic participatory governance and the role of RTI in local governance and how it can empower rural and vulnerable communities.
  4. Proactive Disclosure was the last session and we looked at its features in a good RTI regime and speakers discussed about creating a culture of proactively disclosing information across the state.
  5. In the closing session the speakers shared Success Stories from across the world.

Transparency Maldives is preparing a report on the symposium, which would include papers from the international speakers on different aspects of RTI, the discussions in the symposium and a list of resources that the participants can access to further their knowledge on RTI. The report will be shared with all the participants and will also be made available to the larger public.


International Right to Know day on 28th September 2012 at the Maldives National University

 

International Right to Know day on 28th September 2012, at the Maldives National University.

 

Transparency Maldives organized a panel discussion on promoting access to information to mark the International Right to Know day on 28th September 2012, at the Maldives National University (MNU).

 

The panelists covered the relationship between freedom of information and democracy; public participation, good governance; and between right to information and corruption in their presentations. The panelists also highlighted the shortcomings in the current RTI legal framework and looked at the features of an ideal RTI regime.

 

The panelists were:

Mr. Muaviz Rasheed, Vice President of the Anti Corruption Commission.

Uz. Mohamed Anil, Chairperson of Democracy House.

Mr. Aiman Rasheed, Advocacy Manager of Transparency Maldives.

 

The event was recorded and aired on TVM and Raajje TV.


A culture of free flow of information is fundamental to a democratic society, in establishing good governance, empowering citizens and promoting proactive disclosure and accountability.

Transparency Maldives published a position paper on the existing Access to Information regulatory framework in Maldives and the amendments that are crucial for an effective Access to Information that reflect international best practices.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Auditor General’s Office and the then Gender and Human Rights Ministry, endorsed TM’s position paper.

Download
Access to Information Position Paper