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Details emerge of EU sanctions on Maldives

Countries can work with ‘third states’ to maximise the impact of sanctions.



The European Union has urged the Maldives to allow the “normal function” of parliament and the judiciary, as details emerged of the sanctions to be imposed over the worsening political and rights situation.

An EU framework adopted Monday says member countries can freeze funds and impose travel bans on individuals and entities that undermine the rule of law or obstruct an inclusive political solution in the Maldives. There will also be sanctions on those involved in planning, directing or committing serious human rights violations abuses.

There is also a clause to keep compensation claims at bay.

Documents, seen by the Maldives Independent, say EU member nations are authorised to prevent such individuals from entering into or transiting through their territories. A list of these individuals and those associated with them will be made public.

An annex listing the names of individuals, those associated with them and the legal entities affected by the EU step is currently blank. The full text of the EU’s restrictive measures framework, published Thursday on Twitter, can be read here.

The Council of the European Union will establish and amend the list in the annex and communicate its decision, including the grounds for the listing, to the person or entity concerned either directly or through the publication of a notice, giving that person, entity or body a chance to present their observations.

The annex will also contain the information necessary to identify the people, entities or bodies concerned.

This information may include names, including aliases, date and place of birth, nationality, passport and identity card numbers, gender, address if known, and function or profession.

The identification information for entities, bodies or legal persons may include names, place and date of registration, registration number and place of business.

“All funds and economic resources belonging to, owned, held or controlled by: (a) natural or legal persons, entities or bodies undermining the rule of law or obstructing an inclusive political solution in the Maldives, including by acts of violence, repression or inciting violence; (b)  natural or legal persons, entities or bodies involved in planning, directing, or committing serious human rights violations or abuses; (c) natural or legal persons, entities or bodies associated with the persons, entities or bodies referred to in points (a) and (b), as listed in the Annex, shall be frozen,” says one of the EU documents.

Funds means financial assets and benefits of every kind, says the EU, including cash, cheques, deposits with financial institutions and stocks.

– ‘Maximise the impact’ –

Regulations concerning the sanctions apply to: EU territory including its airspace, on board any aircraft or vessel under the jurisdiction of a member state; anyone inside or outside EU territory who is a national of a member state; any legal person entity or body inside or outside the territory of the EU which is incorporated or constituted under the law of a member state; any legal person, entity or body in respect of any business done in whole or in part within the EU.

The EU decision applies until July 17 2019 and will be kept under review. The sanctions can be renewed or amended “if the Council deems that its objectives have not been met.”

But further approval is needed to implement some measures and European bodies should make a proposal for a regulation concerning these sanctions.

The EU gives countries the option to issue some exemptions on humanitarian grounds or for diplomatic reasons. They can also work with “third states to adopt restrictive measures in order to maximise the impact” of the sanctions.

It has called on the Maldives government to engage with the opposition leaders in “genuine dialogue that paves way for credible, transparent and inclusive presidential elections.”

The international community has been alarmed by the erosion of rights and a crackdown on the opposition in the Maldives. There are also widespread fears that this September’s elections will be neither free nor fair.

President Abdulla Yameen said he had been warned about sanctions, but insisted there were certain values and principles his government would not compromise on, including giving space for religious freedom and the release of political prisoners.

The ranks of high-profile figures jailed or exiled since Yameen took office include two former presidents, two Supreme Court justices, two vice presidents, two defence ministers, leaders of opposition parties, several lawmakers and the country’s chief prosecutor.

The government maintains there are no political prisoners in the country and it has dismissed concerns about the “serious deterioration of human rights and the extremely limited space” for civil society in the Maldives.