August 8, 2016
Colombo 08 August 2016- Fact finding missions of the EU, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) and EU MEPs during November 2015 and February 2016 as well as later representations found the Maldives government deliberately violating universal values of human rights and democratic best practices.
Presently, facts on the record are that Democracy has been derailed in the Maldives since November 2013 to date by the regime of President Yaameen Abdul Gayoom, curtailing human rights, and rule of law in violation of the Maldives Constitution, EU, Commonwealth and UN standards. The present record is also clear that the government was working to silence dissenting voices through the Bill on Defamation, now being pushed through the government’s coopted majority in parliament; by enacting cases of slander and libel as criminal offenses arbitrarily punishable with huge fines and prison terms, thereby muzzling and curtailing freedom of the Press.
It is also presently clear that the government was deliberately not taking any meaningful measures against radical groups, with the joint effect being an authoritarian government tolerating and using radicalized non-state actors as its arsenal against the opposition. The degradation of Constitutionalism and the rule of law with the cooption and reneging independence of key democratic institutions, increasing Police harassment and violence against dissenters coupled with judicial tyranny and overreach in Maldives amount to severe and numerous implications that cannot be said to be in the interest of any particular civilized country.
A particular example of the government’s blatant disregard for civilized values is the government’s unrelenting stand on executing the death penalty showcasing it as a perverted symbol of an Islamic identity of the state, despite glaring irregularities and lapses in due process. Existing regulations initiated by the government, state for a convict to be executed (by lethal injection or hanging) within 30 days after the Supreme Court upholds the death penalty. By July 2016, the Supreme Court had upheld the death penalty against three persons, for whom the requisite 30 day period had expired, while there are another 20 persons (all sentenced during this administration) on death row whose period for appeal had expired.
The European Union in July 2016 reiterated its absolute opposition to capital punishment in all cases and restated its commitment to the worldwide abolition of the death penalty, and it rightly does not reflect the interests of any one country.
The lack of substantive progress in Maldives in priority areas and in upholding democratic values, identified on numerous occasions by representations of countries in the UN, EU and Commonwealth; and noting the increasingly unrelenting tone and actions of the Maldives government, the present situation makes it urgent for international well-wishers to reorient their engagement with the Maldives towards resolute action.