The Criminal Court on 31 October 31 has issued a summary sentence against me in absentia to six months in jail citing failure to attend court hearings. The Court had issued a public notice a day earlier, stating that the case against me shall be expedited in-absentia alleging that I have been absconding from Court summonses.
The conduct of Court proceedings in the presence of the respondent is a basic right stated in item six, Article 51 of the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives. No judicial proceedings had been conducted in the absence of a respondent and no one had been sentenced in absentia since the ratification of the Constitution in 2008. Restriction of a basic right enshrined in the Constitution should be made with reference to Article 16 of the Constitution. The Criminal Court had not made any reference to Artilcle 16 in reneging my Constitutional right to a fair hearing.
Hence, it is evident that the public statement of the Criminal Court to expedite the case in my absence as well as the sentence in absentia to jail me are directly in contravention of the Constitution. The conduct of judial proceedings in the absence of respondents belong to a bygone era. As the Criminal Court had not transited to modern developments in judicial procedures and processes, the stated intent of conducting summary proceedings against me in absentia is not surprising. Instead, it reaffirms my conviction to reassert my stand against blatantly unlawful proceedings. The main aspects of my present endeavor are the modernization and strengthening of the judiciary in the extension of the right to a fair trial.
Issuing a subpoena obstructing attendance to a sitting of the Peoples Majlis (parliament) to a respondent who is required to attend that sitting was an action taken in direct contravention of Article 11 of Law No 2013/5 by the Criminal Court. Also, issuing subsequent Court orders to present me in Court under custody of the Maldives Police Service, and the devious attempts and actions of previous arrests by the Police have been arbitrary and in disregard to the said Law.
However, it is questionable that while the Criminal Court continues to blatantly contravene the Constitution, the Prosecutor General who is responsible under item 11, Article 223 of the Constitution to uphold the independence and rights of all citizens and standards enshrined in the Constitution, has been silent on the matter.
I have now lodged the case of unlawful threats to expedite proceedings against me in absentia at the Maldives High Court. I have appealed at the High Court to instruct the Criminal Court to desist from contravening item six, artcle 51 of the Constitution and Artcle 11 of the Powers and Privileges Act of Peoples Majlis (Parliament).
As it is evident that due process and procedures have not been adequately addressed in the allegations stating a refusal to provide a urine sample prior to prosecution, I have also requested the Prosecutor General’s Office for a review of the case.
Article 7 of regulations on procuring, transferring and testing urine samples state that an instruction to submit a urine sample should be made to a respondent through an official requisition form. At no time was I presented the form stipulated in that article. I have not been instructed to provide a urine sample at any time as per regulations. I have also informed of this procedural negligence through documentation to the Prosecutor General. The Prosecutor General is responsible to ascertain sustained and orderly adherence to due process and procedure in ascertaining the elements of a crime. Criminal Prosecution in a case lacking completion of a due procedure would be irrelevant and unsubstantiated. I have appealed to the Prosecutor General for fair and equitable consideration in the case against me in line with apparent decisions in preceding cases.
Hamid Abdul Ghafoor MP
Henveiru South, Male’
Spokesperson International Affairs,
Maldivian Democratic Party.