The Maldives government has increasingly violated the fundamental human rights of its citizens and put the country on a dangerous path towards autocratic rule, a Human Rights watch report published Thursday said.
The 60-page report, An All-Out Assault on Democracy: Crushing Dissent in the Maldives,documents the human rights abuses that have flourished under President Abdulla Yameen’s administration.
Last month the European Union said it was imposing sanctions on people or institutions guilty of violating rights abuses in the Maldives.
But Yameen’s government shows no sign of yielding to external pressure to release political opponents, relax restrictions on free speech, restore democracy or hold free and fair elections next month.
“The Maldives government has cracked down on any and all dissent, from activists and journalists to Supreme Court judges,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW.
“President Yameen should not believe that he can crush dissent and manipulate the elections without international censure. His government needs to act quickly if the Maldives’ donors are going to take the elections seriously.”
HRW says that, ahead of the September 23 presidential poll, the government has moved to expand its use of “broad and vaguely worded laws” to intimidate, arrest and imprison its critics.
“Among these are counterterrorism laws widely used against opposition activists and politicians; anti-defamation laws used against the media and social media activists who criticize the president or his policies; and restrictions on assembly that prohibit or severely limit peaceful rallies and protests.”
The government was last month provided with a summary of the findings but had not received a response at the time of writing, HRW said.