UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s claim that the Maldives has been placed on the Commonwealth’s watch is not true, the foreign ministry has said.
In a statement to the UK parliament on November 30, Cameron said he welcomed a report by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, the intergovernmental organization’s human rights arm, and its decision “to put the Maldives under formal consideration and to visit there in early 2016.”
In response, the foreign ministry issued a statement today:
“The Government of Maldives wishes to make it very clear that there is no CMAG report or any other Commonwealth report, which states that the Maldives is placed “under formal consideration”, and any suggestion to the contrary is not true.
“It is also important to emphasize that none of the documents issued by the leaders of the 53-member countries of the Commonwealth at the Malta CHOGM [Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting] made any reference to the situation in the Maldives.
“Public expressions in the media by some countries are not part of formal CHOGM discourse.”
If a country is placed on the CMAG’s agenda, it would be “explicitly reflected” in a statement to the public, the ministry said.
Such a statement was not issued following the CMAG ministers’ meeting in Malta, the ministry added.
The CMAG places countries on its agenda if elections are postponed, if political activities are suppressed and if there is systematic and widespread violations of rule of law or the independence of the judiciary.
Following former President Mohamed Nasheed’s ouster in 2012, the Maldives was placed on the CMAG’s agenda for the first time. An inquiry later found the transfer of power to be legal. Nasheed’s imprisonment in March this year renewed scrutiny, prompting the government to threaten to leave the Commonwealth.
Cameron on November 28 urged Commonwealth nations to take action against the Maldives over “unacceptable” events, including the jailing of political prisoners.
He has repeatedly urged Yameen to release Nasheed, whose imprisonment on a terrorism charge has been called illegal and arbitrary by the UN.
A diplomat who wished to remain anonymous previously told The Maldives Independent that the CMAG’s report on the Maldives was “worded carefully so it could be read either way, but Commonwealth scrutiny has increased.”
The Maldives Independent is awaiting comment from the Commonwealth Secretariat.