The Maldivian Democratic Party condemns in the strongest terms the continued intimidation and harassment of its Members of Parliament through politically motivated trials entertained in the Maldivian courts.
On Wednesday afternoon, MDP MP Ali Azim and MDP aligned DRP MP Mohamed Nashiz were served summons to an ongoing case at the Supreme Court. Their case was fast tracked a day after a crucial vote in the Parliament, which saw the MDP and its allies win a Parliamentary vote by 43 votes to appoint a MDP MP to the independent judicial oversight committee, the Judicial Services Commission. The summons was issued for the hearing to issue a verdict on the case, more than a year after hearings on the case concluded.
Thus the MDP believes the sudden scheduling of the Supreme Court case against MPs Azim and Nashiz is a deliberate attempt to disqualify them from Parliament. The MDP notes that while this case has suddenly been taken up enthusiastically by the Maldivian justice system, corruption charges against Government leaning MPs have been dropped.
Furthermore, the criminal court has issued an arrest warrant on MDP’s international spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor MP, for an ongoing case against him, alleging his refusal to give a urine sample to the police in a case alleging drugs and alcohol use. The Chief Judge of the Criminal Court scheduled the hearing and issued an arrest warrant in violation of the Parliamentary Privileges Act, during a session of the Parliament, while Hamid had in writing informed the court he was unable to attend court due to his Parliamentary duties.
Hamid, along with MP Jabir and senior MDP officials were arrested on the island of Hondaidhoo, at a private event on a picnic island by the Police in the early hours of Friday, 16 November 2012. The police integrity commission found they were beaten up by the police during the arrest. The police quickly filed criminal cases against them on charges of alcohol/ drug use and allegedly dialing to give a urine sample to the police. The arrests were made a few days ahead of a crucial Parliament vote of no confidence motion against Dr. Mohamed Waheed.
Commenting on the Supreme Court’s attempts to remove MDP’s parliamentary majority, MDP Deputy Chairperson Ali Shiyam said:
“The Supreme Court has lost all credibility in the eyes of Maldivians and the watching world.
“The Judges are working with political leaders of MDPs opponents to further their wishes. These judges are closely linked to the former dictatorship and continuously work to disrupt the democratic process. After invalidating, delaying and obstructing elections, they are now after a MDP parliamentary majority, who have publicly pledged to reform the judiciary
10 MPs currently face politically motivated charges that threaten their parliament seat. (Refere to the table attached)
The sudden revival of these court cases have come up days before a crucial no confidence motion against the sitting Attorney General, Ms. Azima Shukoor scheduled for 28th October 2013. Furthermore, a bill on Transitional Arrangement that require Dr. Mohamed Waheed to step down if no elections are held by 10th November 2013 was submitted on Wednesday, 23 October 2013.
Weeks after the coup d’etat in February 2012, MDP MP for Thimarafushi Constituency, and MDP leaning Kaashidhoo constituency MP Ismail Abdul Hameed lost their seats following politically motivated Supreme Court rulings.
In 2005, legal expert, Professor Paul Robinson who advised the Maldives on judicial reform said the Maldives criminal justice system as “systematically failing to do justice and regularly doing injustice”.
In February 2011, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) expressed concern at “the apparent failure of the JSC to fulfill its constitutional mandate of properly vetting and reappointing judges” as well as the “judicialisation of politics”.
In July 2012, the United Nations Human Rights Committee stated it was “deeply concerned about the state of the judiciary in the Maldives”. Furthermore, their concluding statement said “the State has admitted that this body’s independence is seriously compromised” and called for serious reform of the Supreme Court, the judiciary more broadly and the Judicial Service Commission.
UN Special Rapporteur, Ms. Gaberiela Knaul raised concerns over the politicization of the Maldivian judiciary, including its oversight body the JSC. In her concluding remarks, she said “Justice must not merely be done but must also be seen to be done, and judges must not only be actually impartial they have to appear impartial to the public”