Statements

    Yesterday’s protest organised by the Opposition political parties have been declared violent by key independent institutions including the Police Integrity Commission and the Human Rights Commission.

    In a statement released last night, the PIC, noted that though the protest commenced peacefully, it turned violent towards its end when the protesters attempted to enter the restricted Green Zone. The statement further noted that protestors used abusive language aimed at provoking the Police, and hurled bricks (from the road) and water bottles at the Police. Similarly in its statement the Human Rights Commission stated that in addition to the above the protesters had hurled some sort of powder at the Police which caused the eyes to burn. The effect of this powder was felt by the observers of the protest who were behind the Police line.

    The PIC also highlighted that the Police had acted with restraint and as per laws in controlling and dispersing the crowd. The Commission also noted the Police had used proportionate use of force in bringing the crowds under control.

    In a brief press interview at around 2000 hours the Maldives Police Service stated that the protest had turned violent near the local market area and that the Police were forced to address the unruly crowd accordingly. They used teargas and pepper spray to disperse the crowds after cautioning them to disperse and vacate the premises.

    The Police also stated that the leaders of the protest, Sheikh Imran of Adhaalath Party, Mr. Ali Waheed of MDP and Mr. Ameen Ibrahim of JP incited violence and urged for confrontations with the Police when preaching to the crowds. Soon afterwards the protest leadership disbanded and left the protest before it reached the Police barricade leaving an emotionally charged crowd to clash with the Police.

    The crowds then charged at the Police near the local market area and the Police line was forced to push back.

    Additionally a speeding vehicle carrying the sound system of the rally sped through the Police barricade injuring some Police officers. Videos and photo have emerged of protesters attacking the Police.

    Key Arrests

    The Police have arrested the organisers of the protest namely; Sheikh Imran, Mr. Ali Waheed and Mr Ameen Ibrahim early morning pursuant to court orders.

    The Police also took into some of protesters. Some are expected to be released today while others will be brought before a court of 

    Open Letter to Lord Alton of Liverpool Regarding His Comments about the Trial and Sentencing of Former President of the Maldives, Mr Mohamed Nasheed

    Dear Lord Alton of Liverpool,

    We write this open letter in response to your recent opinion piece on the Huffington Post blog, dated 22 March 2015, regarding the trial and sentencing of former President of the Republic of the Maldives, Mr Mohamed Nasheed.

    The Government of Maldives takes its relations with British parliamentarians very seriously, and is committed to open and transparent dialogue. As such, the High Commission in London does its utmost to ensure that all members of the All-Party British-Maldives Parliamentary Group are kept regularly informed of the facts surrounding developments in the Maldives. As a member of this APPG, you have been provided with all the facts concerning former President Nasheed’s trial and sentencing. Nevertheless, you have decided to comment on the trial in such an inaccurate and public manner, that it will further exacerbate the domestic ramifications of the case for our young democracy. This is incredibly disappointing.

    We would therefore like to take this opportunity to draw your attention to the litany of factual inaccuracies in your piece, and further provide you with an accurate account of the events that preceded Mr Nasheed’s trial, and the facts of the trial itself.

    Firstly, the Government of Maldives categorically objects to your depiction of former President Nasheed’s resignation from office on 7 February 2012, as a “coup d’état”. As you will be aware, the Government of Maldives, in collaboration with the Commonwealth, established the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI)[1] to inquire into the facts and circumstances leading to the 7 February transfer of power. All doubts regarding the transfer of power were comprehensively laid to rest with the release of internationally accepted[2] Report of the Commission of National Inquiry, Maldives on 30 August 2012. The Commission concluded, “that there was no illegal coercion or intimidation nor any coup d’état”. Indeed, the summary of the Commission’s conclusions on page 2 of the CoNI report reads as follows:

    1. The change of President in the Republic of Maldives on 7 February 2012 was legal and constitutional.
    2. The events that occurred on 6 and 7 February 2012 were, in large measure, reactions to the actions of President Nasheed.
    3. The resignation of President Nasheed was voluntary and of his own free will. It was not caused by any illegal coercion or intimidation.

    Furthermore, the Government of Maldives categorically rejects your implication that the Government “cancelled the [2013 Presidential] election and called for a re-run”. The election of 7 September 2013 was annulled by the Supreme Court of Maldives following the submission of legal challenges by both the Progressive Party of Maldives and the Jumhooree Party in respect to the voter registration process. The decision to call for a re-run of the election, therefore, was the decision of the Supreme Court. Indeed, it is important to note that the Jumhooree party is now aligned with the party of former President Nasheed, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

    Similarly, the Government of Maldives rejects your claim that there were “irregularities” with the results of the 2013 Presidential Election. Although the Presidential Elections of 2013 took place in a challenging political environment, international observers from the Commonwealth, the European Union, and other interested countries monitored the entire process and confirmed the fairness and legitimacy of the results. Indeed, in the Reports of the Commonwealth Observer Group, Chair of the Commonwealth Observer Group, former Prime Minister of Malta, Dr Lawrence Gonzi, concluded that “the Maldives 2013 Presidential elections have been credible and have duly reflected the democratic will of the Maldivian electorate.”

    In respect to the sentencing of former President Nasheed, Mr Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment under section 2(b) of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1990, for ordering personnel of the Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF) to unlawfully and unconstitutionally abduct Chief Judge Abdullah in January 2012. Section 2(b) defines “kidnapping, holding as hostage or apprehending someone against their will or attempts to kidnap, hold hostage or apprehend someone without their will” as a crime, and it is important to note that the charges under the Anti-Terrorism Act 1990, related solely to the abduction of Chief Judge Abdullah.

    The Government of Maldives would like to make it clear that there is no conspiracy by the Government to unwarrantedly convict Mr Nasheed. The Government of Maldives cannot file criminal charges against an individual, and as per Article 220(a) of the Constitution of Maldives (2008), charges were brought against former President Nasheed by the Prosecutor General[3]. By virtue of the Constitution, the Government can neither interfere nor influence any decision of the Prosecutor General or the Judiciary. Indeed, the independence of the Judiciary and the fairness of due legal process have been as sacrosanct in the case against former President Nasheed as they would have been for any other Maldivian citizen.

    Similarly, former President Nasheed was not singled out for his involvement in the abduction of Chief Judge Abdullah. Throughout the legal proceedings four other individuals, including Mr Nasheed’s former Defence Minister, Chief of Defence Force and the Commander of the Male’ Area, have faced charges in connection with the abduction and detention of Chief Judge Abdullah. The Government of Maldives can assure you that each of these cases have been processed identically, and all the accused were charged under section 2(b) of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1990 in exactly the same manner.

    Furthermore, in your piece you claim that Mr Nasheed was “refused access to legal representation”. We can assure you, that this is simply inaccurate. Throughout the legal proceedings against former President Nasheed, his Constitutional right to legal counsel has been guaranteed. On 23 February 2015, when former President Nasheed was presented before the Judge of Criminal Court for a procedural remand hearing, he was given the opportunity to appoint legal counsel. His legal team were not present at this hearing because they had failed to register themselves as per Criminal Court regulations. As a result, the Criminal Court granted former President Nasheed three days, as per regulations, to appoint legal counsel. At the next four hearings in the case, Mr Nasheed had legal representation. Following the sixth hearing, however, Mr Nasheed’s legal counsels recused themselves, and they failed to reappear at any of the subsequent hearings. The Court did not refuse former President Nasheed access to his legal team, and he was repeatedly reminded that he could engage counsel at any time, but failing to do so would lead the Bench to consider that he had waived his right to counsel.

    In your piece you also appear to confuse the allegations that two of judges were witnesses for the prosecution with the court’s refusal to hear Mr Nasheed’s defence witnesses. To clarify, during the fourth hearing, it was in fact former President Nasheed that called the Prosecutor General and two of the presiding Judges in his case as witnesses for the defence. Mr Nasheed’s request was naturally denied by the Bench on the basis that these officials could not be called as witnesses on evidentiary rules of relevancy and probative value.

    Additionally, in your piece you claim that former President Nasheed was “manhandled by the police.” We can assure you that throughout the process, the Maldives Police service has followed standard procedure and due process. On 23 February 2015, a statement was issued by the Maldives Police Service confirming that Mr Nasheed was “granted all rights of an accused who is kept under detention and obligatory access was given to his family, party activists and legal counsel as well as officials of the Maldives Human Rights Commission.” Nonetheless, as part of its commitment to international engagement, the Government has already invited a delegation from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to visit the Maldives from 19-26 March 2015 in order to inspect prison and detention facilities.

    Article 56 of the Constitution of Maldives (2008) guarantees former President Nasheed’s right to appeal his sentence. Mr Nasheed has been sentenced by the Criminal Court—the lowest tier of the Maldives’ court system—so in the event that former President Nasheed feels that justice has not been served, the High Court and Supreme Court can hear his case. All the documents necessary for Mr Nasheed to file an appeal, including the full case report (detailing the full trial proceedings), have been made available[4] to his defence team. Meanwhile, out of its commitment to transparency, the Government of Maldives has invited observers from the UN, Commonwealth and European Union to monitor the appeal process. Yet, on 24 March 2015 the MDP has announced that Mr Nasheed will not be appealing his case at the High Court, and the MDP leadership has publically stated that they will not international observers to be present for the appeal process. The Government would nonetheless like to assure you that former President Nasheed’s continues to retain his right to appeal.

    Finally, the Government of Maldives would like to assure you that no individuals have been unduly arrested for their involvement in recent demonstrations, and no police officers have attacked any peaceful demonstrators. A series of protests have been held nightly in the Maldivian capital Malé, and while for the most part peaceful, a number of individuals have been arrested for violent conduct and vandalism of private and public property. Despite the highly charged atmospheres typically associated with demonstrations, officers of the Maldives Police Service have continually acted with the utmost professionalism. Indeed, it is instructive to recall Sir Bruce Robertson and Professor John Packer’s observations on the CoNI investigations, wherein they spoke of “a national obsession with street demonstrating at an alarming level”, involving a reality of “bully-boy tactics involving actual and threatened intimidation by a violent mob.”

    The Government of Maldives is a firm defender of freedom of speech, and we completely respect your right to express whatever opinions you may have about the Maldives. But, equally, it is our opinion that your authorship of an op-ed piece of such inaccuracy and one-sidedness was an act of gross irresponsibility. In 2012, the Report of the Commission of National Inquiry, Maldives, noted, “an urgent need to address an apparent climate of popular discontent and division...propelled by the politicisation of the media”. Although initially written about Maldivian media outlets, it is disheartening to see international commentary on the Maldives — of which your piece is part — demonstrate a similar politicization. Regrettably, the release of such commentary in international media outlets — pieces with little or no connection to the facts — only serves to perpetuate the spread of misinformation and baseless rumour. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that it will only be the Maldivian people that suffer the consequences of such biased and factually inaccurate commentary.

    In closing, we trust that this letter clarifies the facts of Mr Nasheed’s trial, and hope that a consideration of these facts will precede any future comments you make on the case. We can assure you that we will continue to keep you updated on the facts of the case, but should you require any further information, we would be more than happy to provide it for you.

    Yours sincerely,

    High Commission of the Republic of Maldives to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

     


    [1] As you will recall the respected Singaporean judge, Justice J.P Selvam co-Chaired the CoNI, while Sir Bruce Robertson and Professor John Packer were appointed as International Legal Advisers representing the Commonwealth and UN respectively.

    [2] The CoNI and its findings were welcomed and commended by a multitude of international stakeholders, including the Commonwealth, the UN, the US State Department and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

    [3] Indeed, the Prosecutor General who first filed charges against former President Nasheed was nominated by Mr Nasheed himself.

    [4] On 23 March 2014 the Criminal Court announced that there was a delay in the release of the full case report, resulting from the refusal of Mr Nasheed and his legal team to sign the required documents necessary for the report’s release.

    13 March 2015

    An Open Letter to the Conservative Human Rights Commission

    We write in regards to the press release of 12 March 2015 issued by the Conservative Human Rights Commission[1], regarding the arrest of former President Mr Mohamed Nasheed.

    Whilst the Government of Maldives recognises the important stated role of your organisation, it is extremely disappointing that a commission as ostensibly objective as the one you chair could release a statement as one sided and narrow in conception as you have. The Government believes that it was extremely irresponsible of the Commission to release this to press without adequately verifying the facts of the case. Your Commission website shows that you have only released a handful of statements in the past three years, the majority of them in defence of former President Mr Mohamed Nasheed. Further, a body within the Conservative Party issuing such a statement has had the unfortunate effect of being labelled as a statement from the Conservative Party. Instead of relaying the truth of the matter, the statement released serves only to perpetuate the spread of misinformation and baseless rumour. We would therefore like to take the opportunity to provide an accurate account of the circumstances surrounding the trial of the former President and draw your attention to the number of factual inaccuracies detailed in your statement.

    Firstly, the Government of Maldives take grievance with the claim that Mr Nasheed “was overthrown in a coup d’etat”. As you will be aware, following events surrounding the resignation of Mr Nasheed on 7 February 2012 the then President in office, Dr Mohamed Waheed, in collaboration with the Commonwealth established the Commission of National Inquiry. (To inquire into, and report on, the facts and circumstances leading to the 7 February transfer of power; establish the veracity of former President Nasheed’s claim that he resigned under duress; and ultimately determine the legality of the transfer of power.) As a result of the close collaboration with the Commonwealth, the respected Singaporean judge, Justice J.P Selvam was appointed as co-Chair of CoNI, and Sir Bruce Robertson and Professor John Packer were appointed as International Legal Advisers to the Commission representing the Commonwealth and the United Nations respectively.

    The release of The Report of the Commission of National Inquiry, Maldives[2] on 30 August 2012, and its subsequent acceptance by domestic and international stakeholders, has comprehensively laid to rest all doubts concerning the legality of the transfer of power and the legitimacy of the former Government.

    In regard to the CoNI report, the Government of Maldives would like to draw the Conservative Human Rights Commission’s attention to the following key points:

    1. The findings of the CoNI report verify the legality of the transfer of power and confirm legitimacy of the present administration. The summary of the Commission’s conclusions on page 2 of the CoNI report reads as follows:
      1. The change of President in the Republic of Maldives on 7 February 2012 was legal and constitutional.
      2. The events that occurred on 6 and 7 February 2012 were, in large measure, reactions to the actions of President Nasheed.
      3. The resignation of President Nasheed was voluntary and of his own free will. It was not caused by any illegal coercion or intimidation
      4. There were acts of police brutality on 6, 7 and 8 February 2012 that must be investigated and pursued further by the relevant authorities
    2. The CoNI and its findings were welcomed and commended by a multitude of international stakeholders. Among others, statements of support were issued by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, HE Mr Kamalesh Sharma[3], a spokesperson of UN Secretary-General HE Mr Ban Ki-Moon[4], the US State Department[5] and the British Government[6].

    The Government also categorically rejects the suggestion made in your statement that that the charges against former President Nasheed are “politically motivated”. We can assure you that there is no conspiracy by the Government to unwarrantedly convict Mr Nasheed and prevent him from participating in the political arena in the future. Instead, the independent Judiciary is exercising its constitutional authority to pursue charges against President Nasheed for the abduction of Judge Abdulla in January 2012, and the Government (Executive) cannot interfere with these proceedings under our Constitution. Former President Nasheed, like any other citizen of the country is entitled, by virtue of the constitution to a transparent and impartial trial and the case against him continues in accordance with the rule of law.

    As you will appreciate the Maldives is a nascent democracy, undergoing a dynamic phase of transition. The Government remains steadfast in its commitment to entrenching democratic principles in the Maldives, but this can only be guaranteed by adhering to the separation of powers and the primacy of the rule of law at all times. The Constitution of the Maldives clearly establishes the structure of governance and the independence of the branches of state within the Maldives. All of the branches of state—without exception—function independently and without political interference, in full adherence to the separation of powers. Similarly, all legal cases—irrespective of the individuals involved—proceed fairly and transparently, in full accordance with the Constitution and the rule of law. We can assure you that the independence of the Judiciary and the fairness of due legal process remain as sacrosanct in the case against former President Nasheed as they would for any other Maldivian citizen. The Government of Maldives will continue to ensure the inviolability of a citizen’s right to a fair trial, insulated from political interference, and continue to strive to enforce the law within its constitutional mandate.

    Further, the statement makes reference to the “mistreatment’ of Mr Nasheed whilst in custody as well as alleging that he was denied any legal representation and the right to appeal. These allegations are substantively unfounded-Mr Nasheed was in fact, given the opportunity-when he was presented before the judge at the Criminal Court on 23 February-to appoint a legal counsel. Throughout the process, the Maldives Police service followed standard procedure and due process. A statement was in fact issued by the Maldives Police Service refuting allegations of manhandling on 23 February 2015. The statement identifies that Mr Nasheed was “granted all rights of an accused who is kept under detention and obligatory access was given to his family, party activists and legal counsel as well as officials of the Maldives Human Rights Commission.”[7]

    We are aware of Nasheed’s excellent relations with your Party, but in reporting on events in Maldives without adequately checking the facts, the Conservative Human Rights Commission has disseminated and perpetuated false rumours about the domestic situation in the Maldives, just to support a good friend. Regretfully, issuance of the press release has had the unfortunate result of lending credence to baseless allegations, which, in turn, have been reported by domestic media sources. In light of this the Government of the Maldives has serious concerns not only about the factual inaccuracies in the statement, but more importantly questions the Commissions neutrality and objectivity in the Maldives.

    Nonetheless, the Maldives has always sought to actively engage with our bilateral partners as we continue along the road of modernising, reforming and strengthening our institutions. With constructive engagement and the support of development partners like the United Kingdom, the Government of Maldives remains confident that democracy will consolidate in the Maldives despite the many challenges that the country continues to face. Having said this however, all progress being made by the Government with the democratic transition is hindered by the release of statements that spread misinformation and groundless accusations. The Government of Maldives believes that productive dialogue is what is needed to succeed in cultivating democratic values in our society, not the spread of inflammatory accusations, which only seek to further perpetuate domestic tension.

    On behalf of the High Commission of the Republic of Maldives to the United Kingdom Of Great Britain and Northern Ireland


    1. Conservative Human Rights Commission, Fiona Bruce MP calls for release of former President Mohamed Nasheed in the Maldives and an end to “sham” trial, 12 March 2015,
    2. Report of the Commission of National Inquiry, Maldives
    3. Commonwealth welcomes Maldives Commission of National Inquiry Report, 30 August 2012
    4. Secretary-General, Welcoming Commission of Inquiry’s Report on Maldives Power Transfer, Urges Parties to Accept Findings, Begin National Dialogue, 30 August 2012
    5. Release of Report by Maldivian Commission of National Inquiry, 30 August 2012,
    6. Foreign Office Minister welcomes Maldives report, 1 September 2012,
    7. Maldives Police Service Statement, re: Allegations of police brutality on 23 February 2015, 26 February 2015

    Statement from the Maldives Police Service regarding allegations of police brutality on 23 February 2015. Please find original statement attached at the bottom of the page.

    +++

    Subject: Allegations of police brutality on 23 February 2015

    With reference to the events that took place before former President of Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed first appearance at Criminal Court on 23 February 2014, he was produced at Court only after first aid was administered and after first aid professionals present declared him with no serious external injuries, therefore deeming him fit to appear for his trial. After his first hearing, he was then taken to Dhoonidhoo detention facility where he was given medical care at Dhoonidhoo detention facility by medical professionals present. Further, he was taken for a thorough medical examination to Medica Hospital in Male’ on the afternoon of 24 February 2015 at 1430hrs where doctors have declared that he has a muscle sprain on his right shoulder only.

    Since former President Nasheed was brought into police custody on 22 February 2015, Maldives Police Service has granted him all the rights of an accused who is kept under detention. His family and lawyers are granted the obligatory access to visit him at the Dhoonidhoo police detention facility as well as Maldives Democratic Party members who have been granted a special permission to meet President Nasheed in an effort by Maldives Police Service to show goodwill. Officials of the Human Rights Commission have also been granted access to the detention facility whenever requested.

    Maldives Police Service is deeply disheartened by the statements made by Human Rights Commission of Maldives regarding President Nasheeds first appearance at court. It is observed that the Human Rights Commision of Maldives did not conduct any investigation or obtain statements from Maldives Police Service before condemning police actions via the press release (PR-03/2015). Human Rights Commission of Maldives is urged to seek full objectivity of all prevailing circumstances when making public statements in the future.

    President Mohamed Nasheed is due to appear in Court at 1900hrs of 26 February 2015.

    © 2018 Embassy of the Republic of Maldives. All Rights Reserved.

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