Lifting of the State of Emergency Makes No Practical Difference – Maldives Opposition

March 22, 2018 Male’: The Maldives Joint Opposition today said President Yameen’s decision to lift the State of Emergency will not make any practical difference in the ongoing crisis as the President no longer abides by laws or the Constitution. He has also rushed remand hearings for a number key of state of emergency detainees to ensure their continued detention past the state of emergency.

Since the Emergency was imposed on 1 February, President Yameen has arrested the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, another Supreme Court Justice, Former President Gayoom, Minority Leader, seven other opposition MPs, parties’ officials, and over 300 political opponents from daily protests.

On 20 March, the Prosecutor General’s Office, two days before the state of emergency was to expire, announced charges against key 11 figures. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Criminal Court ordered remand until the end of trial for the Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed, Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, MP Abdulla Riyaz, Deputy Leader of Jumhooree Party, MP Faris Maumoon, MP Abdulla Sinan, MP Ilham Ahmed, former Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Areef, Chief Judicial Administrator Hassan Saeed, Former President Gayoom’s son in law Mohamed Nadheem and Hon. Qasim Ibrahim’s son Ibrahim Siyad Qasim.

Charges against them include attempting to orchestrate an act of terrorism, obstructing justice for refusing to surrender mobile phone, obstructing administration of law, accepting a bribe and offering a bribe. They deny all charges.The charges and court proceedings are highly irregular, violate the Constitution, and were investigated under illegal state of emergency powers, depriving detainees of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

While farcical investigations were carried out by the Maldives Police Service, some were investigated without the presence of their lawyers. MP Faris Maumoon was brutalised and assaulted while the police forced him out of his cell in Dhooindhoo detention center to present him to an investigation without his lawyers. Former President Gayoom was summoned to court and kept in a room alone for 7 hours on Tuesday and the hearing was cancelled. He was later brought back for remand hearing on Wednesday. The Chief Justice and others remain in solitary confinement.

Detainees have been subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment in police custody. They are forced to drink water from a tap in the toilet and are deprived of adequate medical treatment. Opposition Parliamentary Group Leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is held in a cell with a broken fan that is exposed to direct sunlight from 9am to 3pm. Detainees are obstructed from access to lawyers and the authorities routinely harass lawyers and arbitrarily suspend lawyers. The lawyer to the Chief Justice found a recording device underneath her chair during a confidential meeting with her client.

The Joint Opposition continues to reiterate that the declaration of the state of emergency is unlawful and was used to further deepen Yameen’s grip on power and lifting of it does not change the worrying direction of travel in the Maldives. All opposition leaders are jailed, 31 out of 45 opposition MPs, including the opposition parliamentary group leader, are facing trial or charges. The regime continues to use the parliament to rubber stamp laws to legitimise the dictatorship and the entire judiciary has been brought under Yameen’s control.

The Opposition calls on the international community for swift action on the Maldives, including the imposition of targeted sanctions against regime officials.