Maldives state of emergency lifted

Maldives state of emergency lifted
March 22 15:39 2018

President Abdulla Yameen has ended a 45-day state of emergency declared last month in response to a Supreme Court order for the release of his jailed opponents.

The emergency was lifted effective noon on Thursday despite “a diminished threat to national security, because the nation can now continue without further losses incurred, and upon the advice of the security services and in an effort to promote normalcy”, the president’s office said.

The move comes after the criminal court over the past week issued disputed orders to keep high-profile detainees in custody, eleven of whom have been charged with terrorism and bribery over an alleged conspiracy to remove Yameen from office.

The administration insists emergency rule since February 5 was necessary to resolve a “constitutional crisis created by two justices of the Supreme Court who conspired with political actors to violate both the constitution and standard legal norms and practices in order to illegally overthrow a lawful government, and whose actions constituted an imminent threat to national security.”

The state of emergency – during which several constitutional rights including freedom of assembly were suspended – was due to expire at 8 pm tonight.

The UN human rights chief described the government’s actions last month as “an all-out assault on democracy” while Amnesty International called it “a license for repression, targeting members of civil society, judges and political opponents”.

Briefing the press at the president’s office Thursday, Attorney General Mohamed Anil said investigations related to the alleged coup plot were continuing.

The opposition estimates around 60 people were arrested under emergency powers. As constitutional due process rights were suspended, they were not informed of charges or taken before a judge within 24 hours. Some remained in custody for weeks without being questioned.

The police spokesman was unavailable to confirm the number of SoE detainees.

Several leaders of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party who were detained under emergency powers were released on Wednesday.

Apart from the 11 detainees facing terror and bribery trials, other politicians still in custody include MP Ahmed Mahloof, who was remanded for 13 days last week, and MDP MPs Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Ali Azim, who were remanded for nine days on Monday.

Eight Special Ops police officers were also detained on coup plot charges last month. The Maldivian ambassador to Sri Lanka told the foreign press that investigations are continuing into 38 people in custody.

Two Raajje TV journalists were arrested during Friday night’s mass protest and accused of making a video showing masked men in police uniforms threatening to join the opposition demonstration.