Independent MP Ahmed Mahloof has proposed an amendment to the Clemency Act to authorise President Abdulla Yameen to pardon imprisoned former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim.
The amendment states that the president shall have the authority to pardon or commute sentences of convicted former presidents, vice presidents, cabinet ministers, MPs, and Supreme Court Justices.
The bill will be up for debate when parliament returns from recess next week.
The former ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP told the press today that he had proposed the changes to enable the president to legally release jailed politicians, noting that the Maldives has drawn widespread international criticism over “political prisoners.”
“President Yameen keeps constantly saying that that releasing political prisoners is not within his power and that those were decisions made by the judiciary, which he does not influence,” Mahloof said.
“However I have worked with them for a long time, so I know how much of a control he holds on the judiciary, and the prosecutor general. Whether it is the criminal court, the High Court or the Supreme Court, the government has the power to directly deliver any verdict of their preference.”
Yameen has maintained that he cannot pardon Nasheed before the appeal process is exhausted. But Nasheed’s lawyers say the Clemency Act grants the president the power to commute sentences based on a convict’s age, health, treatment they are currently undergoing, their status and circumstance, or from a humanitarian perspective
The PG has since asked the Supreme Court to order the appellate court to hear the case.
Yameen had also declared that he would not bow to foreign pressure for the release of jailed politicians. The remarks came after Nasheed’s high-profile lawyers said they would pursue sanctions against government officials if the opposition leader is not released in the wake of a UN ruling.
The UN working group on arbitrary detention is expected to issue its judgment on Nasheed’s imprisonment next week.
Nasheed’s heavyweight lawyers Jared Genser and Amal Clooney have expressed confidence that the specialised UN agency will rule that his jailing was unlawful.
Ex-Defence Minister Nazim was meanwhile imprisoned on charges of weapons smuggling and sentenced to 11 years in prison in March. The retired colonel maintains he was framed by rogue police officers acting on the orders of then-Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb, an allegation the now-vice president denies.
Nasheed and Nazim’s arrest and imprisonment triggered a prolonged political crisis.