UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers [official website] Gabriela Knaul said Sunday that lawyers and judges in the Maldives are not adequately independent from outside influence [UN News Centre report]. The special rapporteur pointed to the power struggle between parliament, the government and the judiciary, as having a negative impact on the rule of law. Knaul further explained that the separation of powers is a central requirement for judicial independence and impartiality. The special rapporteur also pointed to the lack of female judges, the lack of education and training for members of the judiciary, and skepticism from the public as further evidence that the Maldives has not adequately secured an independent judiciary. Knaul reasoned that the challenges she pointed out are central to both the Constitution and international human rights standards.
The UN's criticism of the Maldives' judiciary is the latest of criticism aimed at the country. Last week a Maldives court issued a second arrest warrant [JURIST report] for former president Mohamed Nasheed [JURIST news archive] on charges of the illegal detention of a judge. The charges against Nasheed stemmed from his unilateral order to arrest [JURIST report] Chief Justice Abdulla Mohamed on corruption charges in January, when Nasheed was still president. In September Amnesty International (AI) revealed violent human rights violations committed in the Maldives against opposition groups and called for an immediate independent investigation into the actions of security forces. The Maldives have experienced unrest since Nasheed ordered the arrest of the country's chief justice and then resigned [JURIST reports] as a result of the controversy. A court in the Maldives in July refused to hear a case [JURIST report] about the legality of the arrest of the chief justice, saying it did not have jurisdiction.