Transparency International and its chapter Transparency Maldives express their deep concern for the worrying developments in the Maldives in the run up to and following the 30-day state of emergency declared by the Government of Maldives on 4 November 2015.
Over the past year the human rights situation in the country has been deteriorating with new laws, regulations and practices which continue to severely undermine civil and political liberties of the citizens of the Maldives.
The state of emergency and the consequent restrictions on constitutionally protected rights is deeply concerning as it is not only unprecedented, but is also declared ahead of a mass anti-government protest planned for 6 November.
Whilst the Foreign Minister, Dunya Maumoon declared that the emergency decree is a ‘pre-emptive and precautionary action..in light of several security threats’ and that ‘the Maldives is safe for international visitors’, it is highly questionable how the current situation is legal and can be used to justify curtailing fundamental freedoms and liberties of an entire citizenry.
We also note that the state of emergency is declared ahead of the no confidence motion against Vice President, Ahmed Adeeb, accused of plotting the assassination attempt of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom. The emergency decree reduces the period provided under Article 100 of the Maldives Constitution for the vice president to respond to the impeachment charges from 14 days to 7 days, indicating the arbitrary and politically motivated nature of this decision.
Worryingly, this emergency decree allows further attack on dissent in the Maldives and severely limits civic space. We also note that these restrictions come on top of recent legislative changes that severely restricts free speech and civic space under the newly enacted Anti-Terrorism Act (28 October) and NGO regulation (1 October). The Anti-Terror Act and the new NGO regulation allows the government to exert complete control over civic groups and eliminate dissent.
Media in the Maldives continue to operate in an environment of fear and intimidation. On 3 October, three journalists from Raaje TV station were reportedly assaulted by the police. We urge the Maldives Police Service and other relevant authorities to conduct a credible, independent investigation into the incident to ascertain if any wrongdoing took place.
Serious allegations of corruption against top officials of the state including security forces and public companies have surfaced in the midst of the crisis that unfolded following the explosion on the Presidential speedboat. We call upon the concerned authorities to conduct a speedy and thorough investigation into these allegations, so that confidence in the security forces and public institutions could be restored.
We urge independent oversight mechanisms of the state to remain vigilant and monitor the situation carefully in order to ensure that no individual’s fundamental rights and freedoms are unduly restricted or violated and to ensure that the emergency decree does not become a cloak to provide impunity for rights abuse.
We call on the Parliament, in their review of the State of Emergency, to ascertain that the government authorities have provided sufficient and justifiable cause to declare a 30-day state of emergency with severe limitations on freedoms.
We also note that principles of fair trial should be maintained at all times and due process is owed to all individuals regardless of political post, belief or affiliation.
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