The Commonwealth’s human rights and democracy arm has made a commitment to work with member states on judicial independence and political freedoms.
The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) met in New York on Friday discussed the undermining of judicial independence and the systematic denial of political space including the detention of political leaders in member states.
“CMAG noted that curbs on judicial independence and the constriction of political space undermine the culture of democracy and weaken democratic institutions and are contrary to the values in the Commonwealth charter,” the group said in a statement.
The Maldives has come under fire recently following the jailing of former President Mohamed Nasheed, two former defence ministers and the leader of an opposition party. The trials have been criticized for lack of due process.
The CMAG in July considered placing Maldives on its formal agenda for human rights violations, but decided against it as Nasheed had been placed under house arrest amidst talks for political reconciliation.
Being placed on CMAG’s agenda serves as both a rebuke and a warning to states.
At the time, President Abdulla Yameen sought parliamentary counsel on quitting the Commonwealth, a threat Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon has made on several occasions before.
CMAG on Friday committed to providing “technical assistance to support member states and the application of Commonwealth good practice in these areas [judicial independent and constriction of political space].”
These two areas are among eight circumstances that are listed in CMAG’s mandate as indicators of serious or persistent violations of the Commonwealth’s political values.
The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) welcomed the CMAG’s statement, and called on the government to cooperate with the Commonwealth and to accept its help in instituting reforms.