The Maldives paradise could become a Maldives hell, according to a former Brussels official.
Last week the European Union approved targeted sanctions, following months of concern and condemnation over the worsening political and human rights situation. The sanctions cover travel bans and the freezing of assets.
Henri Malosse, who led the European Economic and Social Committee until 2015, said it was not too late for authorities to ensure stability and prosperity for Maldivians.
“European civil society and public opinion now understand that ‘a paradise’ could very soon become ‘a hell’.
“Failure by the current government to deliver on their international obligations actions will result in imposed sanctions, which will severely damage the country’s economy – affecting the livelihoods of businesses and people who rely on tourism for their incomes,” he wrote.
“Imposed sanctions are a last resort, but with only three months to the elections, serious redress must be taken quickly.”
The UK’s finance ministry Thursday published a sanctions notice about the Maldives.
In its general guidance the ministry says EU financial sanctions apply within the territory of the EU and to all EU people “wherever they are in the world.”
President Abdulla Yameen had forced the majority of his political opposition into exile under the very real threat of imprisonment, said Malosse, and the judiciary’s independence was also threatened. Judges were replaced with those loyal to Yameen and legislation was adopted to prevent exiled politicians from standing as electoral candidates.
“The international community, including the EU, has now called on President Yameen to maintain rule of law and abide by the Constitution.
“He must allow the opposition to stand in elections, ensure freedom of the press and stop all intimidation, harassment and other illegal means that risk the credibility, civil liberties and democracy of the Maldives.”
The targeted restrictive measures will be taken against persons responsible for “undermining the rule of law or obstructing an inclusive political solution and serious human rights violations,” read an EU press release.
The EU Council has called on the government to engage with opposition leaders in “genuine dialogue that paves the way for credible, transparent and inclusive presidential elections.”
But tourists appear to be undeterred by the political crisis that has engulfed the Maldives for much of 2018.
Arrivals for the first six months of 2018 increased compared to the same period last year, the tourism ministry said, with Europe having the biggest regional market share.