Connect with us


Maldives under fire from UN rights expert

There were irregularities in the trials of the two top judges, said the UN rights expert.



The Maldives was Friday criticised by a UN rights expert for refusing to accept the application made by two convicted Supreme Court judges to have their case reviewed.

Abdulla Saeed and Ali Hameed were found guilty of influencing official conduct in May. The High Court upheld the lower court verdict on June 3, but reduced the sentence to one year and two months.

A three-judge bench decided earlier this month not to hear the cases of their former colleagues as there were “no grounds” to challenge a High Court judgment.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Diego García-Sayán, said he was dismayed by the Supreme Court’s decision especially in light of irregularites.

“Due process issues included the use of closed hearings without valid justification; use of protected witnesses without due explanation; and insufficient time given to the defence to prepare and submit a witness list, further hampered by the difficulties faced by the defendants in accessing their lawyers in Maafushi Prison,” he said.

García-Sayán stressed that removal decisions should be subject to an independent judicial review and questioned the appointment of two new judges.

“The appointment of two new justices before the end of the removal procedure of Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed cast serious doubts on their status, and, consequently, on the status of two top judges appointed by the Parliament on 27 June.

“I have already expressed my concerns about the arrest and detention of the two justices, but regrettably I have not yet received any response from the government.”

He criticised the composition of the Judicial Services Commission, saying it was “largely perceived as being inadequate and highly politicized.”

García-Sayán has previously criticised the Maldives’ government and judiciary, warning last year that legal teams had been “decimated” and that trials could be paralysed because of the mass suspension of lawyers in the Maldives.