The Maldives must restore former president Mohamed Nasheed’s right to contest elections, the UN Human Rights Committee said Monday, giving the government a deadline to say what steps it had taken to implement the decision.
The committee’s decision follows two complaints lodged by Nasheed in 2013 and 2016 about violations of his civil and political rights.
Nasheed was found guilty of ordering the “abduction” of a judge after a widely criticised trial in March 2015 and sentenced to 13 years in prison.
A UN rights panel ruled that his jailing was illegal and politically motivated in October that year.
“The UN human rights experts found that the judicial proceedings in which Mr. Nasheed was convicted were based on vague legislation, contained serious flaws and violated his right to a fair trial under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),” said Monday’s statement from the UN Human Rights Commissioner’s Office.
The committee which oversees the implementation of the ICCPR has given the Maldives 180 days to explain the measures taken to implement the decision.
“As a party to the ICCPR, Maldives is obliged to make full reparation to individuals whose rights have been violated. We have asked Maldives to inform us within 180 days about the measures they have taken to implement our decision,” said Yuval Shany, who is vice chair of the committee.
The committee’s decision further directs authorities to “quash [Nasheed’s] conviction, review the charges against him taking into account the present Views, and, if appropriate, conduct a new trial ensuring all fair trial guarantees.”
The government rejected the UN body’s findings and denied that Nasheed’s rights had been violated.
“Since Nasheed was convicted on 13 March 2015 and sentenced to 13 years of imprisonment, he would not be eligible to run for the Office of the President unless a period of three years has elapsed since his release or pardon,” the foreign ministry said.
Nasheed remained a fugitive because he had not returned to the Maldives since leaving the country for medical treatment, it added.
“For these reasons, Former President Nasheed’s conviction disqualifies him from running in the Presidential elections, for the term of his sentence and for an additional 3 years.
Last November ruling party lawmakers said there was no chance for Nasheed to stand for office, after he declared that international pressure would secure his candidacy.
In April 2016, the US senate unanimously adopted a bipartisan resolution calling on the Maldivian government to redress the “injustice” of Nasheed’s imprisonment.
I request the #Maldives Government to review its response to @UNHumanRights’s conclusion in my case and open and enter into sincere dialogue with the Opposition with the view to holding inclusive, free and fair Presidential elections.
— Mohamed Nasheed (@MohamedNasheed) April 16, 2018
Fmr Prez Nasheed is a convicted felon, who has admitted his guilt numerous times for the crime for which he was convicted. He attempted to manipulate & subvert the judicial process for a political result, to which the experts of the HR Cmte have now succumbed in these Views.
— Jeffrey Salim Waheed (@JSWaheed) April 16, 2018
Thank you. This decision is a milestone not just for the Maldives and all the people who never wavered in our stand for Justice for @MohamedNasheed But also a milestone & hope for all those whose rights, dreams, and political careers are being crushed by tyrants.
— Shafeea Zubair (@Shafeea_Z) April 16, 2018
— Jared Genser (@JaredGenser) April 16, 2018