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ACHR Index: PR/MAL/01/03/05
30 March 2005

President Gayoom urged to withdraw his proposals

New Delhi: Asian Centre for Human Rights in its report, The Dark Side of Life, urged the President of Maldives, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom his much-vaunted proposal for constitutional reforms unveiled on 7 March 2005 and allow the Peoples Special Majlis to fulfill its mandate of drafting a new constitution.

Though on 31 December 2004 President Gayoom y declared the withdrawal of charges of high treason and charges of public disorder offences against persons including former Secretary General of SAARC for participating in the demonstrations on 12-13 August 2004, none of the detainees has received individual notices so far. “It is clear that the charges have been actually 'suspended' with the option to re-activate them at a later date if they oppose the government” stated, Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Center for Human Rights.

This report highlights continued political repression even after declaration of socalled general amnesty on 31st December 2004 and holding of the elections for the parliament, the Majlis, in January 2005.

On 10 December 2004, Ihsan Ahmed Naseer, a minor was arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism in the Maldives Act (Law no.10/90) for allegedly making threatening phone calls to the government officials. He was held until the Court released him on 29 December 2004, only to be re-arrested on 24 January 2005. He was released after one month in detention on 24 February 2005 and is required to report to the police. On 22 January 2005, during the elections for the Majlis, Ahmed Falah, a photographer of the Maldivian Democratic Party for videoing the electoral irregularities and being held under house arrest 21 March 2005. On the night of 23 January 2005, Mohamed Fauzi was detained by the Maldives police service and is still being held in detention and interrogated about pro-democracy movements.

Arbitrary arrest, detention and torture are common in Maldives. Muaviath Mahmood who was arrested on 4 March 2005 for alleged on charges of drug offences and taken to Dhoonidhoo for investigation died on 9 March 2005. His neck and eyes were swollen and there was indication that blood had oozed out of his nose.  His back had imprints of “square grids” very similar to those underneath heavy boots.

Those who provide assistance to the victims of atrocities are being harassed. At about 9.30 pm on 19 March 2005, Ahmed Nazim Sattar, chief organizer of the “Reporting Network for the Relatives of the Persons in Judicial Care” was summoned to the Police Station for unspecific “regarding a matter” for allegedly advising Mrs Sakeena, whose son Ahmed Zuhoor was arrested on 5 March 2005 and ill-treated in custody, to approach Human Rights Commission of the Maldives.

 “The Reporting Network for the Relatives of the Persons in Judicial Care” which was established in September 2004 has been denied registration. Even in the NGOs are headed by the families of President Gayoom and the biggest NGO in Maldives, Society for Health Education is headed by First Lady, Nasreena Abdul Gayoom”.

There is complete control of the media, the television, the radio and all newspapers and magazines in the country. The state owns the TV and Radio stations whilst all three major papers - Aafathis, Haveeru and Miadhu - are owned by cabinet ministers and the brother-in-law of the President.

Commenting on the proposals of President Gayoom, Mr Suhas Chakma stated, the proposals on fundamental rights further restricts the freedom of expression under the guise of undefined  “vandalism, and other similar militant acts.” The President proposes to create the posts of Vice Presidents and Prime Minister but provides no procedure as to how the Vice President or the Prime Minister would be appointed or elected. Yet, he strengthens his power to “appoint and dismiss, on the advice of the People's Majlis, the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice, the Commissioner of Elections and the Auditor-General, and to appoint and dismiss on the advice of the Prime Minister, Ministers, the Attorney-General, Envoys of the State sent abroad with special privileges, and Atoll Chiefs, to appoint and dissolve the Council of Ministers and to conduct public referendums on matters where the President requires to consult public opinion.”

“This is a manipulative trick to tailor made constitutional reforms to suit his purpose of further strengthening the powers of the President while attempting to appease an increasingly critical international community” – stated Mr Chakma.

The Asian Centre for Human Rights urged President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom to withdraw his proposals and allow the Special Peoples Majlis to fulfill its mandate to draft a new constitution; allow the registration of political party, in particular, Maldivian Democratic Party which had submitted its application in 2001 and ensure multi-party rather than multi- candidate political system; issue the notice pertaining to the withdrawal of charges of high treason are given to the individual concerned and that they be published in newspapers and allow registration of NGOs, in particular consider the registration of the “Reporting Network for the Relatives of the Persons in Judicial Care” whose application is presently pending; release all the political detainees including Ahmed Falah, Mohamed Fauzi, Fathimath Nisree, Mohamed Zaki and Ahmed Ibrahim Didi; ensure independence of judges and lawyers in the administration of justice consistent with international human rights treaties;

The ACHR urged the International Community to continue to monitor the situation in Maldives for restoration of multi-party democracy and encourage the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide technical cooperation assistance for the drafting of the new constitution;

© Copy right 2003, Asian Centre for Human Rights, C-3/441-C, Janakpuri, New Delhi-110058, India