Asian Centre for Human Rights

Dedicated to promotion and protection of human rights in Asia

ACHR Index: PR/ML/02/08/05
13 August 2005

Maldives Foreign Minister urged to release opposition leaders

New Delhi:  In an hour long meeting with visiting Foreign Minister of Maldives, Dr Ahmed Saheed, a delegation of the New Delhi based Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) urged the government of Maldives to immediately release Chairperson of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, Mohamed Nasheed and other political detainees, who were arrested yesterday while participating in a peaceful protest to mark the anniversary of pro-democracy protest of 12-13 August 2004. ACHR also urged the government of Maldives to release all other detainees arrested on 1 August 2005 while queuing up early in the morning before the Peoples Majlis to listen to the debates. Majority of them are being detained at Dhoonidoo detention center.

“We welcome the registration of political parties by the government of Maldives as an important step but the government must take comprehensive and composite reform programmes to be implemented within a specific time frame. Any credible reform programme must also create conducive conditions for enjoyment of the democratic freedoms and the release of all political detainees must be an integral part.” – stated Suhas Chakma, Director of ACHR.

Asian Centre for Human Rights also urged the Foreign Minister to allow registration of NGOs, especially “Maldives Human Rights Association” and “The Reporting Network for the Relatives of the Persons in Judicial Care” whose applications have been pending for quite considerable time. In addition, the amendments adopted by the Peoples Majlis on 12 July 2005 further weaken the National Human Rights Commission, target its Chairperson by limiting his power and functions and raises questions about the reform processes.

Foreign Minister expressed government’s commitment to complete the ongoing reform process and informed that the government of Maldives is considering ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Foreign Minister also informed that former Malaysian Minister Dato Musa Bin Hitam has been exploring the dialogue between the government and the opposition parties.

Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights welcomed the dialogue process being initiated by Musa Bin Hitam and the willingness to ratify the key human rights treaties. Mr Chakma urged the government of Maldives to expedite the dialogue for composite reforms in a transparent way and extend invitations to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to visit Maldives.


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