The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) expresses concern over deliberate manipulation of facts in the statements made by the visiting delegation of the UK All Party Parliamentary Group, headed by the Chair of the APPG, Sir David Amess MP.
During the meeting with the APPG on Wednesday, MDP highlighted grave concerns over the state of the Maldives political and human rights situation. The MDP explained to the visiting delegation in depth the politicized nature of the Maldivian judiciary as confirmed by several reports by international organisations including the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The MDP reiterated its concerns over government’s continued persecution of political leaders and growing authoritarian tactics to silence dissenting political opinion. The MDP highlighted extreme judicial bias during these trials and failure to follow due process as per the Constitution of the Maldives and international treaties ratified by the Maldives. Furthermore, the MDP also brought to the attention of the visiting delegation that over 1700 people have either been arrested, investigated or facing criminal charges for peaceful pro-democracy political activism.
Contrary to the statements made by the APPG on Thursday, the MDP again highlighted allegations of grand corruption, money laundering and highly irregular economic activities in the Maldives involving President Adbulla Yameen and his government officials. It is highly inappropriate for the APPG delegation to completely disregard such serious crimes taking place in the Maldives and when these risks are highlighted in several independent reports by international financial institutions and for the delegation to state it is a safe country for investors.
Furthermore, the MDP is deeply worried about the statements made by the APPG delegation on press freedom in the Maldives. In 2014, Reporters without Borders in its Freedom Index placed Maldives at 108th place, between the Central African Republic which is in the midst of a civil war and Fiji, which had experienced a coup in 2006, and in 112th place in 2015, a sliding back of 61 places since the democratic government was brought down in 2012.
Overall, during the MDP meeting with the APPG delegation, the MDP expressed concerns over threats to constitutional rule, prevention of the lawful functioning of the parliament through overwhelming government majority in the parliament, deterioration of the independence of democratic institutions, threats to media and civil society, systematic denial of political space, lack of independence of the judiciary and rule of law, systematic erosion of human rights, grand corruption and organized crime in the Maldives.
The MDP is worried over deliberate omission of these concerns by the visiting delegation. The MDP is extremely concerned that given the nature of the visit, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Maldives may find itself in a difficult position to give an objective assessment of their findings. The party has come to understand that the Government of Maldives sponsored the whole visit, and is, therefore, worried that the APPG may find it difficult to state anything detrimental to their sponsors, irrespective of their findings. MDP calls upon the APPG delegation to fully disclose the details of their visit to the Maldives, including the details of the arrangements made by the Maldivian government.
Further, the MDP is apprehensive of the fact that during past trips by members of the APPG in the last few years, there were no attempts made by the members to meet the opposition. The MDP particularly refers to a visit by a member of the APPG in 2013, once again sponsored by the Government of Maldives, and the purpose of which was declared as “to meet local MPs and to discuss presidential elections and electoral reform” the said member of the APPG never met the opposition and therefore may have resulted in a very subjective view of what was happening in the Maldives at the time. Further, another visit by a member in 2012 resulted in the said member once again never meeting the opposition.
The MDP looks forward to future engagements with the APPG that is conducted in a transparent, objective and impartial manner.