MDP Welcomes the Appointment of Justice Willy Mutunga as Commonwealth Special Envoy to the Maldives Whilst Expressing the Hope for an Impartial and Fair Conduct of His Mandate

The Maldivian Democratic Party welcomes the appointment of Justice Willy Mutunga as the Commonwealth’s Special Envoy to the Maldives.

The MDP welcomes this step towards addressing the matters of urgency and priority addressed by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, in February 2016. The Party has always maintained the need and urgency for dialogue between all parties to bridge the growing gap between the Government and the people of Maldives, and to halt the steep decline in the human rights and democracy situation in the country.

The MDP is confident that the newly appointed Special Envoy of the Commonwealth will readily impress upon the Government the importance of adherence to the Commonwealth’s fundamental political values, including the rule of law and respect for human rights, and the principle of separation of powers, as enshrined in the Latimer House Principles. In this regard, the MDP also expresses hope that the Special Envoy would hold paramount the interests of the Maldivian people.

As the new Special Envoy prepares to assume his onerous responsibilities, MDP would also like to recall the unease with which the majority of Maldivians faced the conclusions of the CONI report issued in 2012. Although the MDP at the time chose to accept decisions and recommendations of the Commonwealth-backed Commission, in the hope that they would be implemented, the dubious conduct of the Commonwealth appointed Judge and Observers on the Commission greatly diminished the confidence of a majority of Maldivian people in the efficacy of such engagements in the future. At the same time, the MDP also notes with much regret that none of the CONI recommendations have been implemented by the Government of Maldives to date. As such, the Party hopes that Special Envoy Justice Willy Mutunga would urge the Government of Maldives, as a matter of priority, to urgently address the CONI recommendations, especially the Commission’s calls for reform of the Police, the MNDF and the Judiciary.

Judge Mutunga is a renowned human rights and democracy activist who has worked tirelessly for the betterment of the Kenyan people. As a person who himself has had to endure time in jail and exile, MDP is hopeful that his first hand experiences of state-sponsored persecution will help him better appreciate and empathise with the dire situation facing the opposition parties in the Maldives today.

The MDP is cautiously confident that such empathy would assist Judge Mutunga in diligently steering the Government of Maldives towards implementing genuine reforms that would serve the betterment of human rights and democratic situation in the Maldives, including freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, an end to persecution of the media and political opposition, initiate urgent reform of the judiciary and independent institutions, and create the necessary environment for free, fair and inclusive elections in the future.

“We reiterate our commitment to dialogue. The need is urgent and immediate. Our hope is that this time around, the Government would engage in good faith, and not abuse this opportunity to try and hoodwink the international community, as it has been prone to do in the past” said MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor.