K. Male' | Afnan Ibrahim | 31-May-2018 | Thursday 08:03 | @afnani | Local | 802
International human rights organization, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Elections Commission (EC) of Maldives to 'end its politically motivated exclusion of opposition party candidates from the September 2018 presidential elections'.
HRW raised concerns regarding EC's announcement that it would reject the presidential candidacy of anyone convicted of criminal charges, which effectively bans the four main opposition leaders from contesting since all of them have been charged with criminal offenses.
While Former President Mohamed Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in prison on terrorism charges in 2015, both the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention have determined that the case was politically motivated and violated his rights to a fair trial and political participation under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Meanwhile, the Human Rights Committee determined that the ex-President must be given the 'right to stand for office, including the office of president'.
'Election Commission has shed its pretense of impartiality and independence with its rejection of opposition candidates. The commission’s threats not only to oust candidates but to shut down entire parties pose a new risk to the country’s already jeopardized electoral freedoms', the organization's Asian Director Brad Adams said.
The organization called on the UN and international donors of Maldives to urge the government to create a conducive environment for a free and fair election.
Furthermore, HRW accused President Yameen of stifling the political opposition through arbitrary arrests and abuse of the judiciary while the upcoming presidential elections have led to more attacks on 'democratic freedoms and political space'.
'President Yameen seems determined to hold onto power at the expense of citizens’ rights to a free and fair vote, His rejection of the UN rights committee’s ruling on political participation shows that he’s now compromising electoral rights across the islands', Adams said.
Multiple organizations have called on the Maldivian government to end its ongoing wave of prosecution, which incumbent President Abdulla Yameen's opponents have described as deliberately targetting members of the opposition.
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