The UK is considering barring senior Maldivian government officials and judges from entering the country, Hugo Swire, the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said Tuesday.
Swire was asked at the House of Commons by Conservative MP Andrew Bingham about the steps taken in light of the deteriorating political situation in the Maldives.
“We are extremely concerned. We strongly encourage the government of the Maldives to engage constructively with both the United Nations and the Commonwealth envoys and to implement all of the recent recommendations of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group,” he said.
“It is crucial that concrete progress is delivered by CMAG’s September meeting. We are also considering bilateral action, including exclusion orders against senior members of the government and the judiciary.”
The UK granted asylum in May to former President Mohamed Nasheed, whose imprisonment in early 2015 triggered the ongoing political crisis.
Both the UK and the European parliament have also warned that targeted sanctions could be imposed on top Maldivian officials if the government does not release “political prisoners” and engage in dialogue with political parties.
After a meeting last April, the Commonwealth’s human rights and democracy watchdog meanwhile called for “clear, measurable progress” by September, when it will “assess progress, take stock, and take decisions accordingly.”
Initiating dialogue with opposition parties was top of a six-point reform agenda laid out by the CMAG.
But Tamrat Samuel, a UN special envoy, left the Maldives in late April with little sign of progress in resuscitating all-party talks.
Samuel is due to visit the Maldives next week. A special envoy of the Commonwealth secretary general, Dr Willy Mutanga, is also due to visit in early August.
The senior advisor of the UN’s political affairs department met with Nasheed and other opposition leaders in exile in the UK last month.
Nasheed’s office said in a statement at the time that the Supreme Court’s judgments on his case as well as that of former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim pave the way for the government to “initiate clemency procedures as discussed.”
“Moving forward with political dialogue remains with President [Abdulla] Yameen releasing prisoners and paving the way for talks between the Maldives United Opposition and the government to establish a dialogue for inclusive free and fair elections,” reads the statement.
“This dialogue must address the release of political prisoners including Sheikh Imran [Abdulla], and produce tangible and actionable resolutions on judicial reform, and human rights in the Maldives.”