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#Maldives: Speaker Shahid must resign as Parliament fails in its constitutional responsibility to control the military.

Male', Maldives
In a direct challenge to the constitutional powers of the Judiciary, Maldives military today ignored a High Court summons to appear before the court and provide an explanation for its arbitrary arrest of Senior Judge of the Criminal Court, Judge Abdulla Mohamed. The Parliament must take ultimate responsibility for failing to control the Nasheed administration's abuse of the country's military and police services.

The military has also refused to abide by a Criminal Court order to release Judge Abdulla. By these actions, the military continue to defy the constitution and the Judiciary, holding Judge Abdulla in military detention since last Monday night. More than 48 hours after the military arrest of Judge Abdulla, there has been no word on his whereabouts or his state of health. The military has refused appeals from the Judge's family to be told his whereabouts and his state of health.

Over the past 48 hours, the military has ignored demands for his release by the Judiciary, the Prosecutor General, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives, the Maldives Lawyers' Association, human rights and democracy movements, opposition political parties and civilians nationwide.

These violations of the constitution, laws and judicial orders by the military raise serious issues of the legitimacy of the current state of governance in the Maldives. It also raises the issue of neglect of parliamentary oaths of office and parliamentary responsibilities by the Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid and members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee of National Security.

The highest law in the country is its constitution. The constitution vests powers of justice in the Courts of the country (the Judiciary) (Section 7), not the military.

"The Supreme Court shall be the highest authority for the administration of justice in the Maldives. The Chief Justice shall be the highest authority on the Supreme Court (Section 141 (b)).

The Constitution protects interference with the functioning of the Judiciary by any entity, even the military. "No officials performing public functions, or any other persons, shall interfere with and influence the functions of the courts" (Section 141 (c)).

The same constitution establishes the Security Services (the military and police service) "to enable all persons in the Maldives to live in peace, security and freedom" (Section 236).

The responsibilities of the security services are to "sovereignty, maintain its territorial integrity, defend the constitution and democratic institutions, maintain and enforce law and order, and render assistance in emergencies" (Section 237).

The constitution clearly limits the powers of the military and police, stating that "the actions of the security services must be exercised in accordance with the Constitution and the law, and operate on the basis of accountability" (Section 238). It entrusts the President of the country to "shall ensure that these obligations of the security services are complied with" (Section 238).

In far sighted attempts to establish checks and balances on the possible misuse of the military and police services by the Government of the time, the Constitution next awards the Parliament (People's Majlis) the authority of oversight over the security forces. "The security services shall be subject to the authority of the People’s Majlis", states Section 239.

The Constitution further orders the Parliament to implement its responsibility and oversight authority over the security services through a standing subcommittee for the express purpose. "A committee of the People’s Majlis shall be established to exercise continuing oversight of the operations of the security services. The committee shall include representation from all the different political parties within the People’s Majlis" (Section 241).

The Constitution further orders that the Minister in charge of each security service shall be answerable to the President AND the Parliament (Section 242).

The Constitution also very clearly state the objectives of the military service. Section 243 (a) states that, "the primary object of the Military Service is to defend and protect the Republic, its territorial integrity, its Exclusive Economic Zone and the people".

In a further directive germane to the current issue, the Constitution orders that "If the President, as Commander in Chief, authorizes or orders the employment of the
Military Service in defence of the Republic or as part of an international undertaking, the President shall without delay submit the authorization to the People’s Majlis. The People’s Majlis may at any time approve the authorization, or revoke the authorization".

The Constitution also protects the security services from the abuse of their powers by the Government. Section 245 states that, "No person shall give an illegal order to a member of the security services. Members of the security services shall not obey a manifestly illegal order".

It then protects civilians from the security forces, by directing that "Members of the security services shall treat all persons and groups equally without any discrimination, and with humanity and dignity in accordance with the decorous principles of Islam", (Section 246 (a)).

Then comes the clincher in the Chapter, "Members of the security services shall not
engage in partisan political activity of any nature, and shall not affiliate themselves with any trade union or political party" (Section 247 (b)).

Given these clauses, the Constitution very clearly prohibits the military and its servicemen from the opportunity of any manner of interferes in civic affairs (within which fall political affairs). It also entrusts the Parliament with the ultimate responsibility of holding the military and police accountable to the people.

Hence, a significant part of the responsibility of the military's continued violation of the constitution falls on to the Parliament, and specifically the Speaker of Parliament and the standing committee on national security - a responsibility they have failed to discharge in the current state of events in the country.

Quite clearly, Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid must resign from his post as he has failed to uphold his oath of office, as must all members of the Standing Committee on National Security.

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