[JURIST] The UN told Maldives on Saturday that Judge Abdulla Mohamed must either be charged or released from indefinite detention. Mohamed was arrested for corruption [JURIST report] in an unprecedented move by the military, following a ruling to release a government critic. Mohamed is also accused of obstructing police investigations and having ties to organized crime [Minivan News report]. The arrest has sparked street protests and prompted all the country’s courts to boycott sessions. The Maldives Minister of Foreign Affairs [official website] asked the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] for help resolving the issue [JURIST report] last week. The Maldives Supreme Court [official website] and the Judicial Service Commission [official website], which investigates judicial conduct, have called the arrest illegal and have demanded that Mohamed be released, but the army has yet to comply. UN officials have not yet decided how to respond to the request [AP report].
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.