July 16, 2016
The Maldives United Opposition (MUO) urges the Maldives government to adhere to international treaty obligations instead of expending exorbitant sums of public money to avoid them.
Documents submitted to the US Justice Department during June 2016 show that Maldives ambassador Ahmed Sareer had signed an agreement to pay US$55,000/- dollars per month for six months from 01 June 2016 (with the option of renewal for a further six months), to Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, for counsel on all public policy issues related to the United States Congress and the Administration.
The MUO also calls upon concerned authorities and the Maldives Anti-Corruption Commission to examine these transactions for fraud and abuse of public funds.
The hiring of Akin Gump comes after the US senate in April unanimously adopted a resolution calling on the Maldivian government to redress injustices to former President Mohamed Nasheed, and release all political prisoners. The resolution was proposed by senators from both the Republican and Democratic parties after UN rights panel UNWGAD declared President Nasheed’s terrorism conviction illegal and politically motivated. The resolution states that since January last year President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has “increasingly cracked down on dissent within his own party and the political opposition, presided over the erosion of judicial impartiality, and put increasing pressure on civil society.”
In 2015, the Maldives government employed Washington based lobbying firm Podesta Group for a sum of US$ 300,000, before hiring Omnia Strategy, a UK consultancy, to whitewash the government’s avoidance of international treaty obligations. It is widely alleged that the firm was paid more than £200,000 of its fee by a private Maldivian company connected to the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Company, presently being investigated for government sponsored embezzlement of a staggering MVR1.2 billion (US$79 million) of the people’s money.
The Maldives ratified the ICCPR and its first Optional Protocol in 2006.
On 14 July 2016 the Maldives new foreign Minister Ahmed Asim shrugged off an instruction from the UN Human Rights Committee for a stay of executing the death penalty on a man convicted of murder, insinuating it was non-binding. Article 27 of the Law on Treaties acceded to by the Maldives states that “a party may not invoke the provisions of its internal laws as justification for its failure to perform a treaty. This rule is without prejudice to article 46.”
The Maldives United Opposition appeals to international well-wishers, concerned authorities and institutions to prevail over the Maldives government to adhere to international treaty obligations and accords instead of avoiding them through exorbitant expense.