The Maldives has lashed out at the European Parliament after it called for individual targeted sanctions over “the deteriorating political and human rights situation in the Maldives and the increasingly authoritarian rule of President Abdulla Yameen”.
European lawmakers passed a resolution Thursday urging Maldivian authorities to reform the judiciary, release political prisoners, and to guarantee the constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly.
But the Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected the resolution in a strongly worded statement.
“The resolution is highly motivated by one-sided political rhetoric and contains inaccuracies, contradictions, misrepresentations and baseless allegations,” the foreign ministry said.
“It is also difficult to comprehend the motive and the timing of such a resolution at a time when the Government of Maldives is preparing to welcome a European Parliament delegation in a few weeks’ time, where they could have had the opportunity to assess the situation on the ground and adopt a fair and balanced resolution,” the ministry added.
Most MEPs at the debate in Strasbourg observed that the situation in the Maldives had worsened since the EU parliament passed a resolution in December 2015 urging member states to freeze assets and impose travel bans against top officials.
Among issues of concern were the reintroduction of the death penalty, the murder of blogger Yameen Rasheed and the abduction of journalist Ahmed Rilwan, the growing number of Maldivians joining extremist groups, the suspension of one-third of licensed lawyers, and “the forcible closure of the Maldivian Majlis to its members and the harassment, intimidation and arrest of elected members of parliament”.
“I believe travel bans are an efficient tool at our disposal to hold the Maldives accountable,” suggested Ignazio Corrao, from the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group.
Europeans account for nearly half of tourist arrivals to the Maldives. With the UK, Germany, Italy and France among the top markets, more than 400,000 Europeans were recorded as of August.
“The Maldivian government wants you to believe that the country is a paradise, this is simply not the case,” said Wajid Khan from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.