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#Maldives Judiciary under attack by ex-President Nasheed on eve of human rights case against him

#Maldives: Ex-President Nasheed and his militant party Maldives Democratic Party last week declared a ban on all courts of Maldives, in response to the scheduled start of human rights case against Nasheed. MPs and leading individuals of Nasheed's party are also currently facing charges ranging from terrorism, corruption, arson, vandalism, theft, pillaging and slander.

Nasheed, together with four others, is being presecuted by the Prosecutor General for the illegal and unconstitutional arrest of the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court in January this year. Judge Abdulla Mohamed was arbitrarily arrested by the Military and held in solitary confinement upon Nasheed's orders as President and Commander in Chief. The Judge was released by incoming President Waheed after the transfer of power on February 7th upon Nasheed's voluntary resignation as President.

During his tenure as President, Nasheed locked down the Supreme Court of the country using military personnel. He also abolished the Judicial Services Commission, ordered the withholding of salaries of judges, ordered military questioning of the Chief Justice and threatened him, and ordered the Judicial Services Commission to remove selected judges from the bench based on allegations by his party, MDP.

MDP declared on September 28th that it would stop following court orders until "the judicial system was reformed". However, it did not give any specific actions or criteria that would be used to determine whether the judicial system was reformed or not. This move by MDP has been denounced by the opposition as actions taken to obstruct justice in the country since it comes at a time that Nasheed as well as several MPs of the party face various criminal and civil cases in the courts.

Nasheed is also being prosecuted by private individuals for slander and loss of reputation, after Nasheed carried out a nationwide and global campaign claiming that he was overthrown by a military coup engineered by certain individuals. However, these allegations have been shown to be untrue by an independent international commission of inquiry (CoNI) which determined that the transfer of power on February 7th was constitutional and legal.

CoNI also found that Nasheed's allegations of military coup were false and that there was no evidence to substantiate it. The CoNI report documented evidence where Nasheed had changed his allegations several times, and finally blamed his Home Minister Hassan Afeef for giving him false information that he said led him to conclude that it was coup. Hassan Afeef, in turn, blamed Nasheed's Defence Minister Tholhath Kaleyfaanu, saying that military threats against Nasheed were reported by Tholhath. Tholhath however denied this, backed by witnesses who testified that no such information had been conveyed by Tholhath to Home Minister Afeef.

The MDP's atamept to obstruct justice in the country and derail democratic institutions comes at a time when several of its MPs and leading activists face charges of terrorism, obstruction of law and order, arson, vandalism, threats to life of provate individuals, slander. The cases against MDP individuals have been lodged by both the state and private individuals whose property and reputations have been attacked by MDP.

This move also comes after attempts by MDP to negotiate with the Government to release several individuals who engaged in arson attacks and vandalism in Addu Atoll and other islands on February 8th, during MDP riots that sought to reinstate Nasheed as President. The Government of President Waheed has taken the firm stand that it is founded on the Constitution and rule of law and that these must be upheld. It has refused to negotiate with MDP on terrorism charges against the said individuals.

President Waheed has made his commitment to judicial reform both to his people and to the international community. The Government has expressed its support to the Judicial Services Commission to implement a Judicial Reform Roadmap that was released this month. In addition, media have reported several commitments by various international partners to assist in implementing the Judicial Reform Roadmap. The MDP has ignored this process and refused to engage constructively in the judicial reform process. On the contrary, it has continued its attempts at interfering with the judicial system and process as it did during Nasheed's short tenure as President.

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