Maldives Foreign Minister Misleads UN Human Rights Council

Maldives’ Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon, the niece of President Yameen, deliberately misled the Human Rights Council during the Maldives’ Universal Periodic Review on 6 May in Geneva.

During the session, numerous countries including India, US, UK, Germany, and Canada (see a full list of countries and their comments below) heavily criticized the Maldives’ politicized judiciary and the recent trial and conviction of former President Nasheed, which Amnesty International labeled a “travesty of justice.”

In her statement to the Human Rights Council, Dunya deliberately made two false allegations: firstly, that President Nasheed chose not to appeal his conviction; and secondly, that there are only procedural – and not substantive – due process concerns regarding the trial.

Regarding the first allegation, the Yameen regime deliberately denied President Nasheed the right to an appeal. As per new Supreme Court regulations — rushed in just before Nasheed’s trial – a defendant has just 10 days in which to launch an appeal from the date of conviction.

The Maldives’ criminal court refused to release the transcript of the trial — information vital to the launch of an appeal — until 11 days after conviction, thus deliberately preventing Nasheed’s legal team from appealing.

Nasheed’s legal team lodged their intent to appeal on 17 March 2015 (see their letter here), four days after his conviction. The lawyers repeatedly asked the Criminal Court for the trial transcript, but the court refused to release it until the window for appeal had closed. When the transcript was finally released, it had been doctored and was full of irregularities.

Regarding Dunya’s second false allegation, that international concern over the trial is limited only to procedural and not substantive due process violations, the Office of President Nasheed would like to point out the following statements, all of which concern substantive due process violations:

  • “The conviction of Mohamed Nasheed . . . after a deeply flawed and politically motivated trial is a travesty of justice.” – Amnesty International, 13 March
  • There were “flagrant irregularities” and Nasheed was sentenced after a “hasty and apparently unfair trial.” – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, 18 March
  • “The serious due process violations… since Mr. Nasheed’s arrest… is simply unacceptable in a democratic society… The defense was also banned from cross-examining prosecution witnesses and presenting defense witnesses, in clear violation of the principle of equality of arms…the lack of fairness in the procedures lead me to believe the outcome of the trial may have been pre-determined.” – UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul, 19 March
  • “Recent events reflect a justice system that still remains deeply politicized along the same lines of entrenched political loyalties that pre-date the transition period” – International Commission of Jurists, 26 March
  • “Deplores the serious irregularities in the trial of former president Mohamed Nasheed; insists he should be immediately released.” – European Parliament, Resolution P8_TA-PROV(2015)0180, 30 April
  • “We see even now, regrettably, that there are signs – troubling signs that democracy is under threat in Maldives, where former President Nasheed has been imprisoned without due process.” – United States Secretary of State John Kerry, 2 May

Quotes from countries during the Maldives UPR:

Switzerland “concerned” about lack of “independence and impartiality” in MaldivesUPR as illustrated by case of @MohamedNasheed.

Sweden worried about “seriously deteriorating conditions” relating to the judiciary in Maldives.

UnitedStates “concerned” about “recent developments” call into question “independence of judiciary” and politically-motivated trials.

Argentina urges Maldives “to adopt all necessary measures” to protect the independence + impartiality of the judiciary.

Australia raises concern over due process abuses in case of @MohamedNasheed in light of Maldives’ obligations under the ICCPR.

Canada urges Maldives to immediately release political prisoners, including @MohamedNasheed and investigate his trial and others.

France deplores that the Maldives judicial system “does not allow for fair trials to be held”, calls for an end to arbitrary detention.

Germany concerned by Maldives HumanRights situation, death threats against politicians, HumanRights defenders; creates climate of fear.

India concerned over increased politicization of judiciary, crackdown on dissent and free speech in Maldives.

Netherlands: Maldives must “End the use of the Judiciary as a political weapon”

Slovenia: Deeply concerned about serious problems in Maldives with the judiciary and “impunity” in actions taken against HR defenders.

SriLanka: Concerned about need for “strict adherence to the rule of law” in Maldives.

NewZealand: Urges Maldives to accept follow up visit from SR Indep. Judges/Lawters & SR HumanRights defenders.

Norway: Discusses “ousting” of fmr pres. @MohamedNasheed – “very concerned” about lack of due process & “urges he be released immediately.”

South Korea: Calls on need for “fundamental reforms” to the judiciary and need for protection of HumanRights defenders.

Denmark to Maldives: Concern re case against @MohamedNasheed. Ensure separation of powers and right to appeal

UK: Calls for urgent action to protect human rights defenders, NGOs and media at Maldives UPR. @FCOHumanRights @UNGeneva UPR22

Latvia: Concerned about Maldives judiciary and lack of safe space for CSOs and journalists. UPR22 UPRMaldives

Italy: “take steps to ensure independence and impartiality of judiciary according to International standards

Ireland: “deterioration in respect to rule of law, adequate HR training for judges needed, impartiality needs strengthening”

Greece: “take measures to ensure full safety of journalists” UPR22

Côte d’ivoire: “promote measures to consolidate the rule of law”

Brazil calls on Maldives to uphold freedom of speech/assembly, review recent politically motivated trials, strengthen judiciary UPR22

Belgium: “criminalise attempts to marry children under the age of 18”

Bangladesh: “strengthen democracy, rule of law and independence of judiciary”

Trinidad & Tobago: “ensure independence & impartiality of judiciary and stop intimidation against journalists & opponents of gov”

Timor-Leste to Maldives: “protection of human rights defenders without restriction”

Full Statements of Countries during the Maldives UPR:

United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, India, Sweden, Norway

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