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Maldives seeks UN help to resolve detention of senior judge

The Maldives Minister of Foreign Affairs [official website] asked the UN Sunday to help them resolve [press release] what they are calling a judicial system failure over the detention of senior criminal court Judge Abdulla Mohamed. Mohamed was arrested for corruption [JURIST report] in an unprecedented move by the military, following the ruling to release a government critic. The arrest has sparked street protests and prompted all the country's courts to boycott sessions. The country's prosecutor general's office has said that under the constitution a judge can be arrested only after a supreme court decision to do so, and the supreme court, prosecutor general's office and judicial services commission (JSC) have all issued statements calling the arrest illegal and requesting Mohamed's release. The vice president has called for Mohamed's release and called on the JSC to prevent the judge from sitting [press release] until the complaints against him are resolved.

The Maldives has faced ongoing political difficulties following the adoption of its constitution [JURIST report] in late 2008. President Mohamed Nasheed defeated longtime political opponent Maumoon Abdul Gayoon [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.

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