The administrative arm of the Maldives judiciary has lifted the suspension of eight lawyers who signed a petition calling for judicial reform.
The Department of Judicial Administration – which functions under the direct supervision of the Supreme Court – announced Wednesday that the suspension was lifted after the investigation of their cases was completed.
The eight lawyers included Moosa Siraj – who represents jailed former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb – Abdulla Hussain, Masthoor Husny, Ahmed Abdulla Afeef, Rushdulla Ibrahim, Mohamed Fareed, Sofwath Habeeb, and Hassan Waheed.
Of the 54 lawyers who were suspended in August, 17 are still barred from appearing in court. The DJA previously lifted the suspension of 29 lawyers, reportedly after they formally apologised in writing for signing the petition and causing offence.
The 54 lawyers, who represented one-third of licensed practitioners in the country, were suspended pending a contempt of court inquiry for allegedly “obstructing the independence of the judiciary and the independence of the judges by forming a group and illegally assembling outside the Supreme Court”.
They were also accused of “interfering with the work of the judiciary, attempting to exert influence, writing an unlawful document in violation of the jurisdictions, procedures and judgements of the courts, signing that document, [and] creating difficulties for the Maldivian judiciary”.
The unprecedented mass suspension drew widespread condemnation with Amnesty International calling the move “a relentless assault on the rule of law”.