Malé and Washington – Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s legal team condemns the Prosecutor General of the Maldives’ announcement yesterday that new charges have been filed against President Nasheed. These politically-motivated charges are the most recent development in the Government’s targeted persecution of President Nasheed, and are a blatant attempt to silence the political opposition.
The charges were leveled against President Nasheed just days after all key opposition leaders, including former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, signed an agreement to unite against current President Abdulla Yameen’s increasingly authoritarian leadership, and just one day after a vote of no confidence against the Speaker of Parliament, a regime crony. Although the ruling party won the no-confidence motion after the military forcibly removed opposition Members of Parliament from the chamber, President Yameen’s support in parliament has collapsed. The President routinely enjoyed support from some 60+ MPs earlier this year, but managed to muster just 48 votes in the no-confidence motion in the 85-member unicameral People’s Majlis.
According to media reports, Nasheed is being charged under the now repealed Terrorism Act. The charges relate to the arrest and brief detention of then Member of Parliament Abdulla Yameen (currently the President) by the Maldives National Defence Force in 2010. However, were the hearings to be held in the absence of the accused, it would violate President Nasheed’s right to a fair trial as guaranteed by the constitution of the Maldives. This fact should prevent any hearing for President Nasheed, who currently has refugee status in the U.K. and has been in living in London since January 2016, from taking place.
Jared Genser, international human rights lawyer for President Nasheed, stated, “These charges – which are dressing up a detention by a government as an act of terrorism almost seven years later – are a transparent attempt to prevent President Nasheed from returning to the Maldives to participate in the 2018 presidential elections. The only reason President Yameen has had to resurrect another ridiculous charge is because the international community unequivocally rejected President Nasheed’s last conviction as arbitrary and in violation of international law.”
President Nasheed was the first democratically-elected leader of the Maldives. In October 2015, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention determined that President Nasheed’s previous conviction and detention violated international law, and called for his immediate release and compensation. President Nasheed also has an active petition before the United Nations Human Rights Committee, seeking to restore those political rights that were illegally stripped by his arbitrary conviction, including the rights to participate in politics and to run for office in the Maldives.