UK lawmakers are flying to the Maldives to observe arrangements for next month’s presidential elections, amid sharp criticism of the government’s rights abuses.
Sir David Amess will be accompanied by Roger Godsiff, Amess’ office told the Maldives Independent.
Amess, who is chairman of the All-Party British-Maldives Parliamentary Group, has caused controversy with his previous visits to the island nation.
In 2016 the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party accused him and other UK MPs of “deliberately manipulating the facts” after Amess told local media in Malé that the Maldives had been portrayed in a “rather unfair fashion.”
He was also criticised for praising former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and for describing jailed former president Mohamed Nasheed’s cell as “quite luxurious.”
In 2010 the BBC reported that Amess had broken House of Commons rules by failing to declare previous luxury trips.
The Maldives Independent has contacted Amess and Godsiff to ask:
– in what capacity they are visiting the Maldives
– who has invited them
– what they will be doing in the Maldives
– who they will be meeting
– who is paying for the trip and and how much it is costing
– what they will do with their findings
– what concerns they have about the rights situation in the Maldives and if they will raise these with the relevant authorities
Conservative Party lawmaker and former Foreign Office minister Sir Hugo Swire, who has condemned President Abdulla Yameen’s government, said: “I do not believe any British parliamentarian should allow themselves to give the impression either advertently or inadvertently that they support Yameen or his government.”
Last week Human Rights Watch said that rights abuses had flourished under Yameen’s government.
Last month the European Union said it was imposing sanctions on people, organisations or institutions it says are responsible for human rights abuses, undermining democracy or stopping free and fair elections from taking place in the Maldives.
The presidential election is scheduled for September 23.