The Maldivian government has dismissed renewed international calls for former President Mohamed Nasheed’s release.
“We do not accept the statements by these countries, nothing that contravenes the Maldivian Constitution and laws have occurred,” said Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon.
Nasheed was taken back to a high security prison on Maafushi Island on Sunday, eight weeks after the government commuted his 13-year jail term to house arrest. The government now denies authorizing the transfer.
David Cameron, the British prime minister, Zeid Ra’d al-Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights and the US government once again urged the Maldives to release Nasheed.
“The return of Mr. Nasheed to prison in our view constitutes a serious set-back to the human rights situation as well as to moves towards finding a political solution in the Maldives,” the Office of the Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) said on Tuesday.
“Deeply concerned that ex President Nasheed has been re-imprisoned. We continue to urge release of all political prisoners,” Cameron said in a tweet.
However, Dunya said that the international community must understand that Nasheed was a convicted criminal.
Nasheed was jailed on a terrorism charge relating to the arrest of a judge during his tenure. The rushed trial was widely criticised for lack of due process.
His imprisonment triggered a political crisis in the Maldives. On June 21, the government transferred Nasheed to a three-day period of house arrest. It was extended on June 23 for eight weeks, and commuted on July 19 amidst talks between the government and the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).
The Maldivian High Commission in Colombo confirmed the commutation to the AFP on July 24.
Responding to questions on the Colombo mission’s comments, Dunya said the spokesman did not use the word “commute” and said the AFP had agreed they had misunderstood the statement.
“Now after we have talked to the reporter, she has admitted that it was her mistake, it was not meant like that,” Dunya said.
The AFP, however, continues to report that Nasheed’s sentence was officially commuted.
When asked why the international community remains critical of Nasheed’s imprisonment, Dunya said she is unable to explain why his word is accepted more than the explanation offered by the government.
“We are aware that president Nasheed’s government was willing and ready to do certain things for these countries, even if it meant giving up our own independence,” she said.
The government has repeatedly slammed what it calls foreign interference in domestic politics and is now considering leaving the Commonwealth.