A team of United Nations Human Rights dignitaries has paid a courtesy call on Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid on Monday.
The team comprised of Chief of Rule of Law, Equality and Non-Discrimination Branch of the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Mona Rishmawi, the new UN Senior Human Rights Advisor in the Maldives, Susanne Pederson, Human Rights Officer at OHCHR Raghu Menon and National Human Rights Officer, Fathmath Ibrahim Didi.
The meeting was joined by Ambassador-at-large Dr. Asim Ahmed, Additional Secretary Javed Faizal and Assistant Director Ahmed Salman Zaki.
During the meeting which took place at the ministry building, FM Shahid briefed the UN delegation on the progress of the country since President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih was sworn in during November 2018.
Emphasizing that the government’s commitment to uphold, promote and protect human rights has “never been stronger”, FM Shahid shed light on several initiatives the government took up within the past year.
As such, Maldives reiterated its standing invitation to the UN Special Procedures Mandate Holders to visit the archipelago nation, also having had the pleasure to host special rapporteurs during June and November 2019.
Further, he briefed the delegation that the government had agreed to the individual complaints procedure under Article 22 of the Convention Against Torture. It is currently compiling the national report to be presented during the upcoming Universal Period Review of the Maldives, slated for May 2020, during the Human Rights Council session.
Other ways through which Maldives has progressed include the government having ratified the Child Rights Protection Act, the Juvenile Justice Act as well as having ratified amendments to the Decentralization Act, after which a third of council seats were allocated to female candidates, briefed the foreign minister.
Nonetheless, he stressed that there are some areas that need urgent intervention such as capacity building and human resources, providing assistance to Maldives with international human rights obligations as well as reporting mechanisms.
The Government of Maldives stands ready to seek collaborations with the United Nations and other international partners, in the promotion and protection of human rights”
~ FM Shahid
The ministry’s press statement publicized on Monday reveals that the OHCHR had arranged for Pederson to act as a Senior Human Rights Advisor within the UN Country Team in the Maldives in line with a request made by FM Shahid to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2019. FM Shahid had expressed confidence in Pederson’s capacity to assist the country to promote and protect human rights.
In addition, it has been revealed that the Senior Human Rights Advisor will be engaging closely with the government to strengthen the country’s devotion to follow international human rights mechanisms as well as contribute towards further consolidation of the country’s legal framework.
Rishwami commended the government’s efforts during the meeting. Her last visit to Maldives was during March 2019 and during her ongoing visit, she met with a number of top officials and visited the prison facility in Maafushi island of Kaafu atoll.
Having extensive experience in the human rights field in the region, Pedersen also has experience on issues affecting small island states and previously worked in Nepal, Sri Lanka as well as Fiji.