From Condemnation to Action – the Case for Targeted Sanctions Against Human Rights Abusers in the Maldives
Statement from President Nasheed Calling for Assistance from International Partners
6 February 2018, MALE:
“President Yameen has illegally declared martial law and overrun the state. We must remove him from power. The people of the Maldives have a legitimate request to world governments, especially to India and the United States.
“We would like the Indian government to send an envoy, backed by its military, to free the judges and the political detainees, including former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, from their detention and to bring them to their homes. We are asking for a physical presence.
“We would also like the US government to ensure that US financial institutions stop all US$ financial transactions of the regime leaders in the Maldives.”
Statement from President Nasheed Regarding Effective Imposition of Martial Law
5 February 2018, COLOMBO: “President Yameen’s announcement today — which declares a State of Emergency, the banning of fundamental freedoms, and the suspension of the Supreme Court — is tantamount to a declaration of martial law in the Maldives. This declaration is unconstitutional and illegal. Nobody in the Maldives is required to, nor should, follow this unlawful order” – President Mohamed Nasheed
Furthermore, President Mohamed Nasheed on Monday spoke to the Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed regarding the current situation in the Maldives. President Nasheed and Chief Justice discussed the breakdown of rule of law and government institutions and expressed concern over these extremely worrying developments.
President Mohamed Nasheed expresses concern over President Yameen’s Government’s deliberate delay in implementing the Supreme Court ruling to immediately release political prisoners.
In the days since the ruling, members of the international community have all called upon the Government to abide by the apex court’s ruling and restore law and order. President Nasheed welcomes these statements and ongoing efforts made by the joint opposition to remind the Government of its constitutional duties.
President Nasheed further notes the repeated statements made by the Supreme Court clarifying that there are no legal obstructions in the implementation of their order. In his continued delay and in his instructions to his Attorney General and the Security Services, President Yameen and government officials continue to violate Article 141 of the Constitution which states, “all judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court, High Court and such courts as established by law”.
President Nasheed is deeply alarmed by reports of the Chief Justice, and other justices facing intimidation and increasing pressure by the authorities following the ruling. Reports of the Chief Justice, Justice Ali Hameed and the Administrator of the Department of Judicial Administration having to resort to confinement within the Supreme Court building due to increased intimidation is extremely concerning.
This deliberate refusal by the Government to uphold the constitution further destabilizes the Maldives and wider Indian Ocean security.
President Nasheed continues to engage with concerned international partners, including India and other neighbouring countries, seeking resolutions to the ongoing crisis and urges India to act swiftly.
Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed Responds to Government’s Reply to UN Human Right’s Committee, Urging it Find that his Disqualification to Run for President was in Violation of International Law
The Committee is Expected to Consider Case During Its March/April 2018 Session
January 22, 2018, Geneva — Counsel for former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed has filed a 40-page brief responding to the Government of the Maldives’ reply to the UN Human Rights Committee in his case, seeking to restore his political rights that were illegally removed by his arbitrary conviction on bogus terrorism charges. This includes his right to participate in the 2018 presidential elections and to lead the Maldivian Democratic Party.
Click here to view the full submission to the HRC.
The Maldives is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a treaty that is binding on the Government under international law. Articles 25 and 22 of the treaty provide for the right to freedom of political participation and freedom of association, respectively. The Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, to which The Maldives is also a party, provides an individual complaint mechanism for violations of the treaty. The Human Rights Committee, which consists of representatives of 20 countries that are a party to the treaty, is expected to consider President Nasheed’s case shortly.
In his original submission, counsel to President Nasheed explained that his disqualifications from running for political office under the country’s Constitution and from holding a leadership position in a political party remain in effect.
In Opinion No. 33/2015, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that President Nasheed’s arrest, conviction, sentence, and imprisonment on terrorism charges was arbitrary and in violation of international law. It concluded it was “impossible to invoke any legal basis justifying the deprivation of liberty of Mr. Nasheed.”
In a prior case that is directly on point, Dissanayake v. Sri Lanka (1373/2005), the Human Rights Committee found that if an underlying basis for a restriction on political participation is a conviction that is later found to be arbitrary that no such restriction would be objective or reasonable, thereby making it illegal and in violation of international law.
Jared Genser, President Nasheed’s lead counsel on this submission commented, “I am very confident in our case and strongly believe the Human Rights Committee now has all the information it needs to determine that President Nasheed’s disqualification from The Maldives 2018 Presidential election would be a flagrant violation of its binding legal obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. When the Government loses, it will have to re-qualify President Nasheed or ensure that the international community will declare in advance of the vote that the election cannot be considered either free or fair.”
President Mohamed Nasheed Condemns Police Raid on Gasim’s Resorts
20 January 2018, Male’: Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed condemned today police raids on tourist resorts owned by opposition leader Gasim Ibrahim, who is currently living in exile in Germany.
Police, customs and tax officials raided Royal Island and Spa Management, Paradise Island Resort, Sun Island Resort, Fun Island Resort and Holiday Island Resort all owned by Gasim’s Villa Group, in the past 24 hours, ostensibly over the suspected infractions of regulations regarding the importation of pork and alcohol. On Saturday police have started an operation to confiscate all alcohol at Paradise Island Resort, Sun Island Resort, Fun Island Resort and Holiday Island Resort severely impacting the operations of the businesses while the resorts are currently in its high season.
President Nasheed dismissed the authorities’ excuse for raiding the tourist resorts, accusing President Yameen of attempting to pressure Gasim ahead of presidential elections, which must be held later this year.
He has also warned against the growing influence of Islamic extremists in the Police and the Government who may take advantage of this instability created by the Government to cause further disruption to the country’s vulnerable tourist industry.
President Nasheed said:
“The police raids on tourist resorts are a big blow for Villa Group and Maldives tourism more broadly. Clearly President Yameen is prepared to play any dirty trick or underhand tactic to try and fix the upcoming election, which he stands to lose because of his dire unpopularity.”
Maldivian Ambassador-Designate to Sri Lanka Threatens to Detain and Deport President Nasheed
Washington DC: International legal counsel representing former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed are very concerned about a threat made by the Maldivian ambassador-designate to Colombo to detain their client in Sri Lanka and forcibly return him to the Maldives.
The ambassador-designate, Mohamed Hussain Shareef, popularly known as ‘Mundhu’, made the threat during a news show aired on Sun TV on 11 September.
During the interview, Shareef says: “If a Maldivian authority requests me to detain and return Mohamed Nasheed back to Maldives, I will. It’s very simple. They have to say, this is an individual who we are seeking. I’ll even go out to the street myself and do it… if our authorities inform me, request it of me, our embassy will enforce it.”
Shareef’s comments are not to be taken lightly. In 2015, staff at the Maldivian embassy in Colombo conspired to illegally abduct a Maldivian blogger in Sri Lanka who had been critical of the Maldivian regime. The blogger, Ahmed ‘Shumba Gong’ Ashraf, was abducted in Colombo and held captive at the Maldivian embassy in Sri Lanka, before being forced onto a Maldives-bound plane. On arrival in Male’ he was arrested and detained on arbitrary charges. The Sri Lankan foreign ministry took the highly unusual step of publicly chastising the Maldivian government over the incident, noting that it found it “deeply disturbing that Sri Lanka … is being used to initiate questionable action against political … activists.”
Commenting on the ambassador-designate’s remarks, legal counsel Amal Clooney said:
“Any attempt by a Maldivian diplomat to detain President Nasheed in Sri Lanka would constitute a violation of international law as well as Sri Lankan criminal law. President Nasheed should not be returned to the Maldives to serve a sentence that resulted from a sham trial, and it is incumbent on the Sri Lankan authorities to ensure that his rights are respected while he is in their country.”
Jared Genser added:
“ The comments by the Ambassador-designate are as outrageous as they are in flagrant violation of international law. No country can violate another’s sovereignty by abducting their citizens from a foreign territory. Such an action would be in clear violation of the obligations of the Maldives under The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons From Enforced Disappearance, a treaty to which it is a signatory.“
President Nasheed was convicted of ‘terrorism’ in March 2015 and sentenced to 13 years in prison. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled in October 2015 that President Nasheed’s conviction and detention violated international law and called for his immediate release. The trial was also widely condemned by the international community as being “vastly unfair, arbitrary and disproportionate” and “politically motivated”. The Maldives government refuses to accept the UN opinion.
President Nasheed’s international legal counsel comprises: Jared Genser of Freedom Now; Amal Clooney of Doughty St Chambers; and Ben Emmerson QC of Matrix Chambers.
Alarm Over Actions of Chief of Defence Forces Major General Shiyam
24 July 2017, MALE: Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed has expressed alarm over the actions of the Chief of Defence Forces, Major General Shiyam, whose soldiers, dressed in full riot gear with batons, barricaded and then stormed the parliament today, detaining a number of MPs, some of whom were injured.
Noting that the Defence Chief acted without a court warrant, President Nasheed said he was very concerned that the army chief had illegally overrun an institution of state, and questioned whether the General was planning to take over other state institutions.
President Nasheed said he was extremely worried about an imminent coup in the Maldives.
On Monday morning the gates of the parliament were padlocked by members of the armed forces and MPs were forcibly prevented from entering the parliamentary compound.
Some Members of Parliament managed to gain access to the parliament, where a vote to impeach the speaker of parliament was due to take place. Later Monday afternoon, the military stormed the parliament building and forcibly removed the MPs.
Some MPs were photographed injured, lying on the street outside the parliament compound.
Government “Masterminded” President Nasheed’s 13-Year Jail Term: Former Vice President Adeeb
16 July 2017, Male: Former Maldives Vice President Ahmed Adeeb has stated that former President Mohamed Nasheed’s 13-year jail term, handed down ostensibly for ‘terrorism’ in 2015, was “masterminded under direct Government scheming and influence.”
In a remarkable letter to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, sent by Adeeb on Sunday 16 July from Maafushi Jail, where he is currently serving a lengthy prison sentence, the former Vice President says he has evidence to prove President Nasheed’s innocence and is prepared to testify to that effect in court.
“I have before me evidence to prove that the judgement passed on Mr Nasheed was meted out under heavy manipulation conducted against the presiding judges and on the judiciary as a whole.
“Where the Supreme Court wishes to give me the opportunity to share this information I am ready to testify to demonstrate that I have adequate evidence to prove it in a court of law,” Adeeb says in his letter to the Chief Justice.
Adeeb goes onto state that the reason President Yameen’s government jailed President Nasheed was to “stop him leading a political campaign following Colonel Mohamed Nazim’s arrest, in Mr Nazim’s defence.”
Former Defence Minister Colonel Nazim was arrested on 10 February 2015. President Nasheed was arrested on 22 February 2015.
“I am party to this information because at that time I held the office of tourism minister and most government matters were conducted under my purview,” Adeeb adds in his letter.
In September 2015, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that President Nasheed’s detention was arbitrary, illegal under international law and called for his immediate release.
The UN Working Group stated that President Nasheed should be compensated for wrongful arrest and imprisonment and that all his political rights, including the right to stand for public office, should be immediately restored. The Yameen regime rejected the UN judgement out of hand.
In September 2006, Al Jazeera aired an explosive documentary, entitled Stealing Paradise, which exposed rampant bribery, corruption, money laundering and other serious crimes perpetrated by President Yameen’s regime.
The documentary includes secretly filmed footage in which a driver for then Vice President Adeeb overhears President Yameen calling Adeeb and asking for a change to be made to President Nasheed’s sentence. President Nasheed was sentenced later that day.
Commenting on Adeeb’s letter, Jared Genser, legal counsel to President Nasheed, said:
“The letter to the Supreme Court from former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb is as stunning as it is unsurprising.
“We already knew that the three judges in President Nasheed’s case were bribed to convict him. But Adeeb is now prepared to explain how the entire sham case against President Nasheed was fabricated and who was responsible.
“In light of these explosive revelations, which must be viewed as highly credible given Adeeb is also implicating himself in this wrongdoing, the Supreme Court must immediately interview him and then reverse President Nasheed’s conviction, exonerating him completely.”
President Mohamed Nasheed Calls for International Investigation into Corruption and Money Laundering in the Maldives
13 July 2017, MALE: Former President Mohamed Nasheed has called for a thorough international investigation into allegations of corruption, money laundering, bribery and other crimes carried out by President Abdulla Yameen and his officials.
The call follows damning new testimony, given by former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb from his jail cell, which was made public on Wednesday 12 July. Adeeb’s testimony relates to the MMPRC scandal in 2015, when government officials stole some US$80 million of public funds.
In his testimony, Adeeb says that President Yameen pocketed some 80% of the stolen funds.
The testimony follows the airing of Al Jazeera’s documentary, Stealing Paradise, in September 2016. The documentary, which was based on evidence obtained in part from the contents of Adeeb’s laptop and iPhones, exposed President Yameen’s involvement in a plot to launder US$1.5 billion through the Maldives central bank. The documentary further catalogued President Yameen’s involvement in bribery, theft, fraud and other serious crimes.
In August last year, the New York Times described a Yameen-related corruption scandal, said to be worth some US$300 million, dating back to the early 2000s. Yameen, who was then a cabinet minister, reportedly corruptly sold oil to the Burmese military junta, in breach of Western sanctions. Half of the money from the sales reportedly disappeared.
Commenting on Adeeb’s new testimony, President Nasheed said:
“Adeeb has finally said publicly what everyone privately suspected: that the MMPRC theft was personally sanctioned by President Yameen, who was the chief beneficiary.
“President Yameen is supposed to be serving the Maldivian people but his administration is more akin to a crime syndicate.
“With such a huge body of evidence, we must now have a credible, international investigation into President Yameen’s wrongdoings. The investigation should be able to support a future criminal prosecution.”
Legal Team Expresses Concern Over New Politically-Motivated Charges Against Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed by Government of the Maldives
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.
President Nasheed Calls for Robust Engagement from the International Community to Restore Democracy in the Maldives
Maldives first democratically elected President and the leader of the opposition, Mohamed Nasheed, expresses deep concerns over lack of concerted and meaningful effort by the international community to prevent serious political conflict in the Maldives following a complete reversal to authoritarianism under President Abdulla Yameen.
Following the 2013 presidential elections, that was repeatedly delayed, cancelled and manipulated by the Supreme Court and state authorities, the government of Maldives has not only ignored calls by the international community for reform, but has passed anti-democratic legislation that undermines the fundamental principles of democracy, and prevents any chance of free and fair elections. This legislation passed by the parliament, which is directly controlled by the President, gives no confidence a free and fair election in the Maldives will be held under the current regime.
While international organisations have consistently condemned the actions of the government of Maldives, these messages have clearly failed to impress upon the government to bring about democratic change. In the run up to 2013 presidential elections, the European Union, the Commonwealth, US Government, British Government and international organisations put pressure on the Maldives to ensure inclusive elections must be held to ensure legitimacy of the government. International partners said that it was unreasonable and unacceptable for parties to continue to demand changes to an agreed election date. Statements also reiterated that political parties must have the freedom to have a candidate of their choosing. Further commenting on the electoral processes international community’s reports highlighted issues including vote buying, lack of separation of powers and independence of oversight bodies.
Since the 2013 presidential election, the situation has worsened. The jailing of all opposition leaders, complete paralysis of the multi party system, outright politicisation of oversight bodies, blatant corruption involving the state and banning of free speech and press freedom gives no confidence that things will improve in the future. All these issues have been compounded by a politically compromised judiciary, whose absolute lack of moral and professional integrity has been well documented.
Heavy executive influence in the judiciary and the Parliament has resulted in the changing of dates of the upcoming local council election after a complaint was filed by President Yameen’s faction of the ruling party, changing of laws that allows voters to draw symbols on the ballot paper, and new legislation that disbars individuals from contesting in elections independently if they have lost a Party primary. The lack of independent oversight bodies including the elections commission are systematic designs of an authoritarian state.
The socio-economic situation of the Maldives will further deepen the authoritarian state. Last year, the Maldives’ economy only grew by 1.9%. It is the second worst in the region where national debt is over 80% of the GDP and faces serious financial sector challenges. Maldives’ budget and current account deficits are gaping and investor confidence and prospect for economic development remain low, especially in light of the Government’s history in terminating contracts, and the refusal to address or hold accountable those responsible for money laundering and corruption.
The Maldives has ratified major international human rights treaties and instruments relating to the conduct of elections and has violated them regularly. The continued failure of the international community to constructively engage on Maldives’ issues will adversely affect the stability of the region.
Taking note of the current situation, it is deeply regrettable that the international community has ignored the alarming situation in the Maldives, allowing the reversal of hard fought democratic reforms in a country they once hailed as a success story. Today – a melting pot of rising religious extremism, a precarious economy, soaring youth unemployment, an increasingly insecure electorate combined with a Government dogmatically shifting away from traditional international partners, makes the Maldives a volatile crisis that the community of democracies must not ignore.
President Mohamed Nasheed to Speak on the Challenges and Opportunities of Small Islands States at the Wilton Park Conference
President Mohamed Nasheed will be speaking at the Wilton Park Conference on the challenges and opportunities faced by microstates and small islands on 7th November.
Prominent speakers including Sir Richard Branson will be addressing the conference bringing together experts, innovative thinkers and policy makers from the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific Islands.The Conference will be held from 7-9 November in the British Virgin Islands
Wilton Park Conference is organised in association with Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science of the UK Foreign Office and the UN Office of High Representative for LDCs, LLDCs, and SIDS.
The Wilton Park conference aims to examine the challenges faced by small island states that affect economic development and resilience. The conference will explore opportunities available to such states due to technological advancement, new investments and economic diversification. Furthermore the conference will map out pathways for policymaking, investment and sustainable growth in potentially fragile conditions.