Urgent appeal to prevail upon Maldives incumbent Government to expedite the proper functioning of the Judicial Service Commission

The Judicial Service Commission had completed an investigation on Judge Abdulla Mohamed Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, in November 2011, holding him guilty of misconduct. This decision was appealed to the Civil Court, which ordered that the Judicial Service Commission’s complaint procedure be suspended. Although the Commission appealed the Civil Court’s ruling, Judge Abdulla was allowed to continue in his functions.

UN Special Rapporteur Ms. Gabriela Knaul conducted an official visit to the Maldives at the Government’s invitation from 17 to 24 February 2013. She met with Governmental, legislative and judicial authorities, as well as with lawyers, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders. In her report published on 21 May 2013 she notes (a) serious gaps in the legal system; (b) the misinterpretation of the concepts of independence of the judiciary and accountability; (c) the selection and appointment procedures of judges and the lack of transparency and adequacy of the Judicial Service Commission; (d) the lack of protection for judicial actors; (e) the precarious situation of women in the justice system; (f) the effects of impunity for past human rights violations on the justice system; and (g) the concerning lack of public trust in the judicial system.

Political tensions between the Government and the opposition culminated on 12 January 2012, when former President Mohamed Nasheed sidelined Judge Abdulla Mohamed from the Judiciary. Judge Abdulla had allegedly released a murder suspect allowing the suspect’s involvement in another murder,and shielded a number of powerful politicians in corruption cases by refusing to issue orders to investigate. Many complaints had been madeto the JSC regarding his conduct and supposed lack of ethics. The crisis sparked by this event significantly precipitated the change of Government on 7 February 2012. Judge Abdulla continues to issue questionable rulings and is now allegedly participating in political schemes to oust opposition MPs through the judiciary.

Recently Judge Abdulla had been issuing summonses to me that coincide with sittings of the Peoples Majlis (parliament). Issuance of summonses to a respondent who is required to attend sittings were actions taken in direct contravention of Article 11 of Law No 2013/5 by Judge Abdulla and the Criminal Court.
Judge Abdullah is continuing to issue subsequent orders to present me in Court under custody of the Maldives Police Service. The devious attempts and actions of previous arrests by the Police have been arbitrary and in disregard to the said Law.I have since taken refuge at the premises of the Peoples Majlis from 24 October 2013 to avoid unlawful arrest.

Subsequently, Judge Abdulla had issued a sentence in absentia, to jail me for six months citing my non- attendance to hearings. His ruling alludes to someone at my residence refusing to be the recipient of a Court summons as I was not at home at the time. Should refusal to be recipient of a Court summons be a criminal offense, that offense had not been committed by me, but by someone who happened to be at my residence. I am not aware as to who it may have been. Sentencing me to six months in jail as punishment for a criminal offense committed by that person would not constitute a valid legal procedure anywhere in the world.

The exertions of the Criminal Court to present me for hearings in complete disregard to and in contravention of the Powers and Privileges Act of Peoples Majlis (Parliament) are blatant infringements of parliamentary privileges by the judiciary. Hence, this case is not a censure against me by the Criminal Court. This is a denunciation of the Powers and Privileges Act of Peoples Majlis, by the judiciary. I happen to be an unfortunate victim held in between.
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 these unlawful actions.On 06 November 2013, the Peoples Majlis Oversight Committee on Independent Institutions found the Prosecutor General, (appointed to prosecute, oversee the legality of Police arrests, the legality of investigations by the Police as well as other commissions and ensure Constitutional standards) as incompetent, negligent and partial in the discharge of his duties. He has publicly spoken of resigning his post prior to a pending motion of no confidence in the Peoples Majlis.
With the judiciary actively eliminating parliamentary privileges, and the Prosecutor General on the way out, Judge Abdullah continues unchecked with serial issuances of predatory political rulings on opposition MPs, thereby compelling my refuge at the Peoples Majlis premises to continue into a third week.

The Judicial Service Commission was established by the Constitution of 2008 as an “independent and impartial institution” to, inter alia, appoint, promote and transfer magistrates and judges other than the Chief Justice and judges of the Supreme Court, investigate complaints and take disciplinary action against them, including recommendations for dismissal.

Presently the Judicial Service Commission is dysfunctional, with three seats vacant, due to the incumbent government delaying the confirmation of two members already nominated by the Peoples Majlis and the appointment of an Attorney General. The apparent urgency to address the deterioration of judicial matters can only be alleviated through the completion of the composition of the Judicial Service Commission and resumption of that commission’s functions.

It is my earnest appeal to the International Community, authorities and institutions in Maldives and all well-wishers to prevail upon the incumbent government to facilitate the two members already appointed by Peoples Majlis (parliament) to the Judicial Service Commission to take their oaths of Office, to enable their participation and proper functioning of the Judicial Service Commission without further delay.

07 November 2013

Hamid Abdul Ghafoor MP

Henveiru Dhekunu Constituency, Male’