The emergency was lifted effective noon on Thursday despite “a diminished threat to national security, because the nation can now continue without further losses incurred, and upon the advice of the security services and in an effort to promote normalcy”, the president’s office said.
The move comes after the criminal court over the past week issued disputed orders to keep high-profile detainees in custody, eleven of whom have been charged with terrorism and bribery over an alleged conspiracy to remove Yameen from office.
The administration insists emergency rule since February 5 was necessary to resolve a “constitutional crisis created by two justices of the Supreme Court who conspired with political actors to violate both the constitution and standard legal norms and practices in order to illegally overthrow a lawful government, and whose actions constituted an imminent threat to national security.”
The state of emergency – during which several constitutional rights including freedom of assembly were suspended – was due to expire at 8 pm tonight.
The UN human rights chief described the government’s actions last month as “an all-out assault on democracy” while Amnesty International called it “a license for repression, targeting members of civil society, judges and political opponents”.
Briefing the press at the president’s office Thursday, Attorney General Mohamed Anil said investigations related to the alleged coup plot were continuing.
The opposition estimates around 60 people were arrested under emergency powers. As constitutional due process rights were suspended, they were not informed of charges or taken before a judge within 24 hours. Some remained in custody for weeks without being questioned.
The police spokesman was unavailable to confirm the number of SoE detainees.
Several leaders of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party who were detained under emergency powers were released on Wednesday.
Apart from the 11 detainees facing terror and bribery trials, other politicians still in custody include MP Ahmed Mahloof, who was remanded for 13 days last week, and MDP MPs Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Ali Azim, who were remanded for nine days on Monday.
Eight Special Ops police officers were also detained on coup plot charges last month. The Maldivian ambassador to Sri Lanka told the foreign press that investigations are continuing into 38 people in custody.
President Yameen lifts the SoE because he now has no need for it. He has overrun the judiciary and legislature, arrested hundreds unlawfully and introduced a “new normal” in the #Maldives – full dictatorship. We will not give up, we will fight and we will overcome.
— Mohamed Nasheed (@MohamedNasheed) March 22, 2018
Lifting of #StateOfEmergency makes no difference. Supreme Court CJ, another Justice, former President @maumoonagayoom & others in jail. 31 of 45 Opposition MPs-including Majority Leader @ibusolih either in jail,charged or in trial. Judiciary & Parliament under Yameen’s control!
— Abdulla Shahid 🎈 (@abdulla_shahid) March 22, 2018
The #Maldives #StateOfEmergency is over, but politically motivated prosecutions continue, and many citizens remain in jail for exercising their fundamental rights. For #Democracy to return, independent and impartial justice and a fully functioning #Majlis are essential.
— Atul Keshap🇺🇸 (@USAmbKeshap) March 22, 2018
Lifting of the SoE will not make any difference on the ground. Brutal crackdowns on freedom of speech and assembly will continue unabated. The opposition is expected to ratchet up the pressure by an extra notch. Yameen must go! #MaldivesInCrisis
— Hamid Abdul Ghafoor (@HamidhAG) March 22, 2018
After having arrested over 300 people and ordering the military takeover of the Parliament and the Supreme Court, President Yaameen finally lifts the so-called State of Emergency that had been illegal from the get-go.#Huttuvaa
— Mickail Naseem 🎈 (@MickailNaseem) March 22, 2018
Everyone arrested, detained in police custody during SoE & State’s request to keep them in remand till the end of trial is illegal & the State failed provide a coherent legal basis/principle of Shari’ah to justify invoking the suspended CrPC & Article 48(d) of the Constitution.
— Riffath (@ibriffath) March 22, 2018
On behalf of PPMMDA PG group, i take this opportunity to Appreciate & convey a Special thank you to, The Attorney General of Maldives Uz, Mohamed Anil, and The Legal Affairs Minister Uza, Aishath Azima Shakoor for their great legal skills and resolute love to this Nation. 🇲🇻 pic.twitter.com/Gm8pKOghdb
— Ahmed Nihan (@ahmed_nihan) March 22, 2018
On Checks & Balances, did you mean that the Chief Justice and Supreme Court justice remains in indefinite custody, 7 MPs, including opposition Parliamentary Group Leader in custody, 31/45 opposition MPs facing trial?
— Shauna Aminath 🎈❓ (@anuahsa) March 22, 2018