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Maldives lawyers seek ICC intervention over detained judge

A group of Maldives lawyers this week submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] the controversial case of detained Maldives Judge Abdulla Mohamed, calling Mohamed's continued detention a violation of the International Convention on the Protection of all Persons against Enforced Disappearance [text]. The legal team is contesting [Minivan News report] the conditions of Mohamed's arrest and subsequent detention [JURIST report] by the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) after the judge attempted to block his own High Court police summons pertaining to allegations of corruption and political bias in his professional conduct. The national Judicial Services Commission (JSC) has stated that the MNDF does not have legal authority over the judiciary [HaveeruOnline report], a responsibility claimed exclusively by the JSC itself. On Tuesday the Maldives Attorney General and JSC member Abdulla Muizzu gave his first interview since the arrest [HaveeruOnline report], but chose to confine his remarks to addressing the JSC's failure to effectively address various complaints against Mohamed's conduct, refusing entirely to address the constitutional issues pertaining to the judge's actual arrest. The JSC has appealed an earlier Civil Court injunction [Minivan News report] preventing the commission from taking action against Mohamed at the High Court, and is now investigating all previously submitted complaints against Mohamed. Violent anti-government protests have left several injured [HaveeruOnline report], including a journalist badly beaten Monday at a rally near the camp of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party. While opposition parties have termed Mohamed's arrest a "kidnapping" and claimed his continued detention constitutes a "crime against humanity" under the ICC's jurisdiction, the ICC limits itself under the Rome Statute to only the most serious international crimes.

This week the Maldives Minister of Foreign Affairs [official website] requested the UN help resolve [JURIST report] the situation, which they are calling a judicial system failure. The Maldives has faced ongoing political difficulties following the adoption of its constitution [JURIST report] in late 2008. President Mohamed Nasheed [official website] defeated longtime political opponent Maumoon Abdul Gayoom [BBC profile], who had jailed him numerous times during his 30-year rule. However, opposition legislators have blocked the ruling party's legislative agenda, leaving certain crucial provisions of the new constitutional system unestablished. This resulted in the resignation of Nasheed's entire cabinet [BBC report] in June 2010. The Maldives Constitution [text, PDF] provides for multi-party elections, an independent judiciary and grants more authority to the legislature. It also enumerates fundamental rights of citizens and establishes several special commissions on issues relating to human rights and corruption. The new constitution was drafted in response to international criticism [AI report, PDF] of 2003 government actions against protesters of prison conditions in the country.

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