Permanent Representative of Maldives to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Dr. Hala Hameed has called the joint statement regarding the Maldives, narrated at the 37th session of the Human Rights Council, “unwarranted and unconstructive,” assuring the country’s “readiness” to engage constructively with the body.
Responding to the statement supported by 41 countries on Friday, Ambassador Hala “elaborated on the issue of corruption at the highest levels of the Supreme Court and that the declaration of 1st February 2018 was primarily because the Bench of the Supreme Court was beyond any measure of Constitutional accountability”.
Noting that concerns regarding the Supreme Court “was first raised in the report of the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, who conducted a visit to the Maldives in 2013,” Hala said that a statement released by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in May 2015 “had then referred the judiciary to be politicised, inadequate and subject to external influence”.
In the joint statement narrated at the Human Rights Council session held on Thursday, the 41 nations expressed “regret” over the Maldivian government’s decision to “not engage constructively” with the UN human rights body and its mechanisms.
Ambassador Hala denied this and said that “in the past four years alone, the Maldives had hosted six visits by the High Commissioner’s Office including a recent visit”. She added that their most recent visit was “less than three weeks ago – in fact, during the state of emergency”. She also went on to explain that the Maldives has “submitted no fewer than nine communications” to the Council in the past three year, adding that there is more such visits planned for the future.
Further noting that the Maldives requires “much work” to strengthen its democratic institutions, Ambassador Hala said that “it would be completely unfair to judge the Maldives against the standards as envisaged by the United Kingdom and the European Union, and as practised in those countries”.
In the statement, the 41 countries called on the Government of Maldives “to address immediately the deteriorating human rights situation in the country; to end peacefully the state of emergency; to restore all articles of the Constitution; to allow the Supreme Court and other branches of the judiciary to operate in full independence; to permit and support the full, free and proper functioning of Parliament, with the reinstatement of twelve members of the Parliament as ordered by the Supreme Court, and to free political prisoners and their family members”.