28 November 2015, Male'; The Government of Maldives notes with concern the ongoing threat of sanctions being made by foreign counsel acting for former President Nasheed, and further, notes the presentation of a list of individuals to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office that they suggest ought to be targeted. Such a move is unwarranted and clearly amounts to a political move that is aimed to unduly influence a legal process.
The Maldives rejects the position promoted by Nasheed’s foreign counsel that appears to suggest that the Maldives is a centre of political repression and extremism. This is an unfounded characterisation that must be rejected and any steps to destabilise the political situation is wholly inappropriate.
Further, the Government rejects the suggestion that the former President is a ‘political prisoner’. The reality is that the former President Nasheed has been convicted of a serious criminal offence and sentenced accordingly; he has the right to lodge an appeal yet has chosen not to exercise that right and had chosen to obstruct the legal process by seeking a political solution.
The suggestion that the Government has reneged on an agreement to release the former President is flatly denied. He has been afforded the opportunity to challenge, in a legal forum, his conviction. He is once again invited to use that opportunity.
To advance the threat of sanctions due to a perceived lack of due process in the domestic courts is an irresponsible use of what is an essential tool of international diplomacy for gross human rights violations. The political situation in Maldives is not an appropriate use of such extreme measures.
Despite the rhetoric and contrary position maintained, the former President has actively sought to frustrate proceedings as was evident at the hearing before the High Court.
The Supreme Court is now seized of the matter, and has granted leave to appeal, the former President and his legal team is urged to actively engage with the appeal process so as to ensure that the issues they would seek to raise are presented accordingly.
To impose sanctions against individuals in such circumstances is overt political interference with the judicial process that is yet to reach its conclusion, and thus an example of the exact behaviour of which the former President’s legal team complains.
Further, the targeting individuals for sanctions at this time, would have potential wider ramifications during a period of global instability, where the international community ought to be coming together to address and oppose the threat of terrorism.
The Government would highlight the fact that freedom of expression, association, and speech are protected within the constitution and no action has been taken to curtail those fundamental rights.
The Government respects the rights of its citizens to protest and voice any concern, just as it respects the rights of other nations to offer opinion, criticism, and assistance. The Government merely asks that there is parity in the approach adopted for the Maldives as that adopted with any other nation.
The Maldives expects to be treated fairly on the international stage just as any other state would expect.