6 February, Male’: In the early hours of Tuesday morning, around 2am, the Special Force of the Maldives Police Service, in riot gear, entered the residence of former president, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. The Police arrested President Maumoon, along with his son in law, Mohamed Nadheem. Both were arrested on on blatantly trumped up charges of “bribery.”
Late Monday evening, the military, in riot gear, stormed the premises of the Supreme Court of the Maldives. Around 4am this morning the Special Force of the Police arrested the Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed of the Supreme Court.
The Police did not have arrest warrants for any of the arrests.
Declaration of State of Emergency
On Monday 5 February President Yameen Abdul Gayoom declared a State of Emergency in the country. The President declared the state of emergency through his Legal Affairs Minister, a non-cabinet Minister at the President Office, Azima Shukoor.
The decree suspends all basic fundamental rights, and gives the security forces sweeping powers of search and arrest.
Amongst the suspended constitutional rights include the right to privacy, freedom of information, right to strike, right to assembly, right to no unlawful arrest or detention, the right to appeal.
Parliament and the Judiciary
The decree also suspended a number of articles interfering with the Parliamentary and Judicial mandate. The power of Parliament to summon people, and the power of the Parliament to impeach the President and the Vice President, and the power to pass no confidence motions on cabinet ministers and the Prosecutor- General have also been suspended.
The decree also suspended Article 113 of the Constitution: Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court:
The Supreme Court, sitting together in session, shall have sole and final jurisdiction to determine all disputes concerning the qualification or disqualification, election, status, of a presidential candidate or running mate or removal of the President by the People’s Majlis.
And Article 145 (c)- Supreme Court:
The Supreme Court shall be the final authority on the interpretation of the Constitution, the law, or any other matter dealt with by a court of law.
The decree also suspended the Criminal Procedure Act and Articles 12 and 14 of the Judges Act.
With the suspension of these articles, with his decree, President Yameen has effectively obliterated all the powers of the Parliament and the Supreme Court. The suspended articles on the powers of the Supreme Court also render void the constitutional power of the Supreme Court to act as the final arbiter.
The decree is unconstitutional. The arrests of last night demonstrates President Yameen is abusing his powers to declare states of emergencies to carry out a witch hunt of the political opposition, the judiciary and the Parliament. The decree is being used to bypass due procedure, and prevaricate guarantees against arbitrary arrest and detention, especially of the Supreme Court Justices.
By suspending the powers of the Parliament and the Judiciary, President Yameen is encroaching on all checks and balances, separation of powers, and is tantamount to a break down of the entire democratic system.
We call for the immediate release of President Maumoon, Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, and Justice of the Supreme Court Ali Hameed. We call on our international partners to do all they can, to ensure the release of the detainees, and to restore the Maldivian constitution.