MDP Criticises Supreme Court After President Nasheed’s Terrorism Conviction Upheld

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) condemned the Maldives’ Supreme Court on Monday, following the Court’s decision to uphold the terror conviction against former President Nasheed.

President Nasheed was convicted of ‘terrorism’ in March 2015, following a trial widely condemned by the international community as political motivated and decried by Amnesty International as a “travesty of justice.”

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said in October 2015 that there was no basis for President Nasheed’s conviction, that his detention was in violation of international law, and called for his immediate release. The Maldives government refuses to abide by the UN ruling.

Speaking hours after the Supreme Court’s announcement, MDP spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor called the ruling “unsurprising” and “completely consistent with President Yameen’s wishes”.

He added that there was “no material difference, in the real world, between the judiciary and the executive. They are part and parcel of one authoritarian regime.”

Maldivian Democratic Party spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor went onto say:

“The Supreme Court is on a roll, disposing of President Yameen’s political opponents in quick succession.”

“The Supreme Court has become little more than a discredited instrument of regime oppression. Judges receive their orders directly from the President’s Office, usually in the form of bags filled with cash.”

The ruling against President Nasheed follows similar verdicts against President Yameen’s political opponents. Former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim, also jailed for terrorism last year, saw his appeal thrown out by the Supreme Court bench on Sunday.

Meanwhile, on Friday the Supreme Court upheld a death sentence against a 22-year-old man convicted of murdering a parliamentarian, after rejecting an attempt by members of the MP’s family to prevent the execution from proceeding. The verdict paves the way for the first execution in the Maldives for more than half a century.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has reiterated its position that President Nasheed must — and will — be allowed to participate freely in presidential elections in 2018.

Hamid added:

“The international community is clear in its opposition to the democratic backsliding in the Maldives under President Yameen.

“We believe that India, the United States, Britain, the European Union, the UN Human Rights Council, and the Commonwealth are sympathetic to the aspirations of the Maldivian people, who want to see democracy restored and their Constitutional rights upheld.”

The MDP has reiterated its position that the party will not “lay low” while President Yameen continues to act in an authoritarian manner.

The party says it will work within the recently formed Maldives United Opposition, which is headed by former Vice President Mohamed Jameel, to restore the rule of law and ensure that the 2018 presidential elections are conducted in a manner that is free, fair and inclusive.