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UN rights chief urges Maldives to ‘completely reverse’ emergency measures

“I am deeply concerned that the rule of law, which is the foundation of any democratic state, is being undermined,” Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussain said at the UN Human Rights Council.



The UN human rights chief has urged the Maldives government to “completely reverse” emergency measures imposed by President Abdulla Yameen in response to a Supreme Court order for the release of political opponents.

In a global update presented on Wednesday to the UN Human Rights Council, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussain said the declaration of a state of emergency last month paved the way for “completely arbitrary decisions” and “a wave of arrests, including of 80-year-old former President [Maumoon Abdul] Gayoom, Members of Parliament, and the Chief Justice.”

The human rights high commissioner acknowledged the government’s acceptance of a mission by his office but expressed concern that the rule of law has been undermined in the Maldives.

“Moreover, this crisis could have drastic effect on the lucrative tourist sector. I urge the complete reversal of these recent measures,” he said.

Zeid previously described the deteriorating situation as “tantamount to an all-out assault on democracy,” warning that the suspension of constitutional rights as well as functions of the legislature and judiciary “create a dangerous concentration of power in the hands of the president.”

Yameen maintains he was forced to invoke emergency measures to arrest judges and investigate what his supporters have called a “judicial coup” to remove him from power.

Four MPs, senior police officers and opposition leadership figures, including the vice president and several council members of the Maldivian Democratic Party, have also been detained in connection with the alleged coup plot.