Conservative Human Rights Commission concerned about arrest of former President Mohamed Nasheed in Malé

06 March 2013

The The Conservative Human Rights Commission (CHRC) today expressed grave concern at the arrest of former President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed in Malé, yesterday.  He is charged with abduction, relating to allegations that he unlawfully detained a senior judge shortly before he was ousted from power.  President Nasheed was the first democratically elected President in nearly thirty years when he came to power in 2008. 

Former President Nasheed has previously stated that the court proceedings against him were without any legal basis and were aimed at barring him from running in the presidential elections that have been scheduled for September this year.  Under Maldivian law, any jail sentence would rule out his candidature.

Concerns have been raised by a range of organisations about whether Nasheed can expect a fair trial, with his supporters asserting that the whole process is politically motivated.  The court that he will face has been specially constituted for the purpose, implying strong political interference.  Human rights organisations across the world see this as another instance of selective justice being carried out by the current Maldivian administration. 

Mr Buckland said today, “I am deeply concerned about the safety of former President Nasheed and urge the Maldivian authorities to postpone legal proceedings against him and to allow free and fair elections to take place”.

Such instances of selective justice are just one of a number of serious breaches of human rights in the country.  The Commission has previously heard evidence from a number of experts who share concerns about this action being politically motivated and Robert Buckland MP, Chair of the CHRC, has met President Nasheed to discuss his fears and worries about the legal proceedings. It is widely known that members of the Maldivian Democratic Party (Nasheed’s party) have been targeted by the police and the authorities, and more than 500 MDP members are facing ongoing criminal cases, with more than 200 others similarly threatened. 

It is vitally important that all candidates of political parties are able to participate in the upcoming elections if the Maldives wants the international community to see it as a free, fair and inclusive election.  This targeting of MDP members and their families will seriously undermine their ability to fight the upcoming elections on an equal footing and the CHRC will put pressure on the Government to call for the release of falsely accused MDP supporters.