NEW DELHI: The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) today called upon the President of Maldives Mr Abdulla Yameen to immediately release former President Mohamed Nasheed, who has been in illegal detention on what can credibly be described as trumped up terrorism charges since 22 February 2015. ACHR also called upon the United States, European Union, India, Singapore and others to impose a travel embargo on Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin and presiding Judge Abdulla Didi for the illegal arrest and detention of Mr Nasheed, and to push for accountability for the physical assault on Mr Nasheed inside the court premises on 23 February 2015.
“The arrest and detention of former President Nasheed on terrorism charges is a grotesque act of political vendetta. The accountability of Prosecutor General Muhsin and Presiding Judge Didi must be established, including under universal jurisdiction for meting out torture, inhumane and degrading treatment to former President Nasheed in the court premises.” –stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.
ACHR further stated that if the Government of Maldives fails to stop human rights violations targeting political opponents, it shall call for a resolution against the Government of Maldives at the forthcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council to be held in Geneva from 2 to 27 March 2015 and recommend a boycott of President Mr Abdulla Yameen’s regime, including any engagement with Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon.
President Abdullah Yameen of the ruling Peoples Progressive Party (PPM) was elected with the support of Jumhooree Party (JP) after defeating President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) in the Presidential elections of November 2013. However, on 7th February 2015, the MDP and the JP signed an agreement to ‘defend the Constitution’ alleging breach of the constitution by the President and called for a rally in capital Male on 27th February 2015. Thereafter, the ruling PPM, launched a fresh vendetta to silence the opposition.
On 10 February 2015, the Police arrested former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim on charges of treason and terrorism after police allegedly discovered a pistol and bullets during a midnight raid from his apartment. On 18th January 2015, the police further raided the house of JP leader Mr Gasim Ibrahim.
On 16 February 201, Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin dropped charges against Mr Nasheed related to the detention of Criminal Court judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012, when Mr Nasheed was president. Mr Nasheed had been charged under Article 81 of the Penal Code of Maldives relating to detaining a government employee who has not been found guilty of a crime i.e. detention of Criminal Court judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.
On 22 February 2015, Prosecutor General Muhsin filed charges under Article 2(b) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 1990 (PTA) against former President Nasheed on the same matter that Nasheed had been exonerated i.e. detention of Criminal Court judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012. Since the charges under Article 81 of the Penal Code of Maldives had already been dropped on 16 February 2015, it is illegal for the Prosecutor General to indict Mr Nasheed again by invoking Article 2(b) of the PTA, 1990.
The first hearing of Mr Nasheed before the Criminal Court under the PTA was scheduled for 23 February 2015. However, on the very day fresh charges were filed on 22 February 2015, Mr Nasheed was deemed a flight risk and arrested. Further, when he was produced before the Criminal Court on 23 February 2015, he had no legal representation, as the court had refused to register any of his five lawyers on the ground that lawyers had to register at the court two days in advance. Mr Nasheed’s lawyers, like Mr Nasheed himself, had no idea about the trial until less than 24 hours before it occurred. Presiding Judge Abdulla Didi compounded these illegalities by asking the state prosecutors to present charges anyway. This clearly violates international human rights standards on fair trial as set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by Maldives. In addition, Mr Nasheed was assaulted by police for trying to speak to media persons when he was being presented to the court. Judge Didi has ordered that Mr Nasheed be detained until the trial ends.
Judge Abdulla Mohamed, whose detention by Mr Nasheed’s government is the subject of the current prosecution, still heads the Criminal Court, but went on leave to allow his deputy, Judge Abdulla Didi, to facilitate what is effectively a kangaroo trial.
In the beginning, a number of others including Major General Moosa Ali Jaleel, who is presently Defence Minister, were accused of detaining Judge Abdulla Mohamed along with Mr Nasheed. Major General Jaleel was chief of the Maldives National Defence Force from 18 November 2008 to 8 February 2012 and therefore was directly responsible for Judge Mohamed’s detention. However, no legal action has been initiated against him, which once again exposes the illegality of the action against Mr Nasheed for political vendetta. [Ends]