Press Statement on Political Unrest in the Maldives

This Press Statement is issued by the following civil society organizations:-

Madulu, Maldivian Democracy Network, Huvadhoo Aid, Transparency Maldives, Maldives Youth Action Network, HAND and Democracy House.

We, as organizations of the Maldives Civil Society, categorically denounce the undemocratic actions of the three Powers of the State: the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary, at a time when democracy is in its infant stages in the Maldives. We believe recent political and civil unrest is a consequence of these three arms of the State disregarding the spirit of the Maldivian Constitution. We believe a culture of manipulation of the Law to infringe upon the rights of one another has developed and that the three arms of the State have failed to give each other due respect.

At the same time, other concerned State institutions have failed to give due regard to the current situation and acted irresponsibly, thereby increasing the challenges faced by the nation.

It is not responsible on the part of the Parliament, that they should pass Laws that undermine the powers of the Executive. It is unacceptable that the Executive, should use its powers to harass and deter the functioning of the Parliament, to disrepute the Judiciary and to try to exert undue influence on the judicial system. The lack of consistency in the rulings of the Courts, and actions which undermine the trust of the people in the Judicial System are contrary to the high standards which are expected of Judges. We call upon the Judiciary to work to restore the people’s faith in the judicial system.

The expression of views that undermine the Rule of Law and disrupt national unity by political parties serve only to harm the people and the nation. In this context, we condemn the “formation of People’s Courts” and the threat to “mobilize supporters for personal safety”, by political parties. Such warnings directed at the Institutions of the State undermine the Rule of Law, disrupts social harmony and has the potential to lead to bloodshed. The recent demonstrations organized by political parties have resulted in injuries to the general public and the security forces and destruction of private property. We remind political parties that it is one of their foremost responsibilities to ensure that such violence is not repeated.

While it is incumbent upon the security forces to uphold the Rule of Law, we are deeply concerned that security forces are stepping outside the boundaries of the Law with regards to arrest and detention. We call upon the security forces to ensure that their actions are not contrary to the letter and the spirit of the law.

We condemn recent incidents where individuals have had their right to privacy violated and private telephone conversations have been widely distributed by the media. We call upon the relevant State Institutions to prosecute those responsible and remind State Institutions, political parties and the media that no violation or limitation of any of the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution should be taken lightly.

We believe that State Institutions are acting irresponsibly by failing to address the root causes of the current crisis. We call upon all concerned to prioritize the people’s interest before self-interest and to reaffirm their commitment to serve the people.  We urge all concerned institutions to protect the rights of citizens by upholding the Rule of Law and to resolve differences through amicable means.

We will continue to monitor the actions of State Institutions and political parties and keep the public informed of developments on the current situation.

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