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Transparency Maldives condemns the stabbing of JSC Member Ms. Velezinee

Transparency Maldives condemns the stabbing of Ms. Aishath Velezinee, the Presidents’ appointee to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) this Monday by unknown assailants in broad daylight. Ms. Velezinee sustained three stabs to her back while walking down a busy street of the capital. .JSC is the statutory body mandated by the Constitution of Maldives to preserve and uphold judicial integrity.

The cowardly attack took place at a time when Ms. Velezinee’s accusations of corruption and sedition against members of the JSC, politicians and public figures reached an all time high. Members of JSC include the Speaker of Parliament, a Justice of the Supreme Court, a Justice from the High Court, a magistrate from lower courts, the Attorney General, a member of the general public, a lawyer elected by certified lawyers and a member appointed by the president. Ms. Velezinee is currently part of a campaign of concerned citizens and civil society members in protesting against new legislation being discussed by parliament on parliamentary prerogatives and financial benefits -a campaign that has been heavily criticized by politicians in the media last week.

Ms. Velezinee is known for being vocal and for her activism against what she alleges to be grand corruption, abuse of power and corroboration between the higher echelons of the democratic institutions in Maldives for political and personal gain. Maldives has fallen an alarming 57 places in Transparency International’s global Corruption Perception Index (CPI) from 2007 through 2010.

Ms. Velezinee was heavily criticized in the media by politicians in the days leading up to the stabbing. Given the nature of Ms. Velezinee’s accusations as well as the circumstances of the assault, Transparency Maldives has reason to believe that the attack may have been politically motivated.

At a time when public security is at a new low, Transparency Maldives expresses deep concern for the safety of civil society activists and advocates working for human rights and good governance and in particular human rights defenders and whistleblowers. Transparency Maldives is relieved that Ms. Velezinee survived the attack and is now expected to make a full recovery.

Urgent and immediate action is required by local and international actors to prevent miscarriage of democracy and further derailment of the democratic processes. Transparency Maldives urges the international community to pressure and support relevant agencies in Maldives to remedy the breakdown of personal security, social justice as well as the system of checks and balances by strengthening democratic institutions and processes.

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Sheila Masinde
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