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UN rights experts warn Maldives judiciary under threat

[JURIST] A group of UN human rights experts said [press release] Monday that the detention of two Supreme Court judges in the Maldives is an attack on the independence of the judiciary and undermines the court's ability to work freely and effectively.

The arrests follow the Supreme Court's decision to nullify the sentences against nine opposition figures, including former president Mohamed Nasheed [campaign profile], who were thrown into prison or forced into exile by President Abdulla Yameen [official profile]. Subsequent to the arrests, the three remaining Supreme Court judges overturned the order [JURIST report] to free the nine opposition leaders.

In a joint statement, the experts said:

the independence of the judiciary is under serious threat, along with the principle of separation of powers between the State and the courts. This direct attack on the Supreme Court undermines its legitimacy and independence, and casts serious doubt on its ability to protect constitutional principles and to uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The UN experts are concerned that the alleged arbitrary arrest and detention of the two justices is now affecting the work of the other judges.

"Judges should decide all matters before them impartially, on the basis of facts and in accordance with the law. This is not possible when their very liberty and security is threatened."

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