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Maldives: Nasheed’s Resignation Must Not Create Backslide of Human Rights and Democracy

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(8 February 2012, Bangkok/Geneva) – The long-running political impasse between ruling and opposition parties, which led to the resignation of President Mohammed Nasheed yesterday may compromise the progress made by the Maldivian government in recent years towards the development of national legislation and mechanisms to uphold universal human rights standards and democratic principles, warned the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA).

The regional human rights group that represents 49 non-governmental organisations across 17 Asian countries, has expressed its deep concern over the latest events leading to President Nasheed’s resignation, particularly the arbitrary arrest of the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdullah Mohamed by the military as well as the violent altercations and clashes between anti-government protesters and the Maldives Police Service (MPS) along with the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF).

“As the first democratically elected president of the Maldives, President Nasheed made noteworthy efforts nationally, regionally and internationally to continue his struggles for human rights and democracy. While we are saddened to witness his reform agenda have been marred by overly politicized discourse in the country, we emphasize that the MPS and the MNDF end the use of disproportionate force against protesters and do not act in excess of their competence authorized by law. The military must stay out of politics and let the democratic processes run its course”, said Subodh Raj Pyakurel, Chairperson of FORUM-ASIA. “At this critical juncture, members of all political parties, democracy advocates and human rights defenders must be awarded their full rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly without fear of safety concerns and reprisals, as outlined in the Constitution of the Maldives as well as the international human rights treaties that the Maldives is party to.”, he added.

Yap Swee Seng, Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA stated that “While the allegations targeted at Judge Abdullah exemplify a broader and systemic challenge of the Maldivian judiciary where many judges are allegedly corrupt, have little formal training on the law and may remain in office with no accountability, the military should never have been mobilized in removing a judge in a democratic country”. President Nasheed’s recent initiatives to invite experts from the United Nations and the Commonwealth to work with the Judicial Services Commission for technical assistance on judicial reform were welcomed by Yap Swee Seng who added that, “We strongly urge incumbent President Mohammed Waheed Hassan to continue these efforts and call on opposition parties to seriously cooperate with these processes”.

Furthermore, FORUM-ASIA stressed that those crucial legislative and institutional reforms initiated by President Nasheed, including key pending bills such as the new Penal Code, must not be stalled by the successive government, and reminded that the Maldives has made such commitments to the international community through its Universal Periodic Review in November 2010. The regional human rights group also urged President Waheed to work constructively with the Maldivian civil society, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, the People’s Majlis and all political parties towards national reconciliation and renewing the trust in the country’s democratic processes. (ENDS)

For more information or media interview, please contact:

· In Bangkok, Giyoun Kim, Acting Deputy Executive Director, +66 85 120 5898, [email protected]
· In Geneva, Pooja Patel, UN Advocacy Programme Officer, +41 76 787 3928, [email protected]