14 March 2018, Male’: Lawyers for the imprisoned Chief Justice of the Maldives, Abdulla Saeed, have accused the government of bugging their meetings, after finding a recording device under a chair during a client-lawyer meeting at Dhoonidhoo Detention Centre.
Legal counsel Hisaan Hussain travelled to Dhoonidhoo to meet the Chief Justice, her client, earlier today. However, inside the meeting room, she found a red recording device planted under her chair. Hisaan immediately called over the police officers on duty to demand an explanation. Lawyers who were attending to other clients, along with the police officers, saw the recording device underneath Hisaan’s chair. The police officers failed to explain why the device was there.
Hisaan, along with other seven lawyers who were visiting political detainees in Dhoonidhoo today, left the detention centre and returned to Male’, protesting that the authorities were deliberately violating their clients’ right to confidential legal counsel.
Since the start of President Yameen’s unlawful State of Emergency, police have put in place new and increasingly stringent procedures aimed at undermining political prisoners’ right to legal counsel. The authorities have also stepped up a campaign of harassment against lawyers representing political prisoners.
In recent days, police have restricted client-lawyer meetings to 30 minutes and restricted the hours in which meetings can take place. Meanwhile, police have summoned lawyers for questioning, the authorities have threatened lawyers for speaking publicly about their clients’ cases, and police have confiscated lawyers’ mobile phones.
Commenting on the bugging, Hisaan Hussain said:
“This is a disgraceful breach of client-attorney privilege and shows, once again, how far the authorities are prepared to stoop in order to manufacture a case against my client and intimidate legal counsel.
“The Chief Justice has been unlawfully and arbitrarily detained. Everyone, from President Yameen down, must be held legally accountable for this.”