UN rights chief accuses Maldives court of interfering in election

UN rights chief accuses Maldives court of interfering in election

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[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website; JURIST news archive] asserted [statement] on Wednesday that the Supreme Court of the Maldives [official website] has meddled excessively in the nation’s presidential elections. Earlier this month the Supreme Court of the Maldives annulled results [JURIST report] from the first round of presidential elections and called for a new election, which was canceled after police intervened [AP report]. In her statement, Pillay criticized the court for allegedly depriving Maldivians of the right to elect officials of their choice:

I am alarmed that the Supreme Court of the Maldives is interfering excessively in the Presidential elections, and in so doing is subverting the democratic process and violating the right of Maldivians to freely elect their representatives. … I am normally the first to defend the independence of the judiciary, but this also carries responsibilities.

Pillay urged all branches of the Maldives’ government to take actions that would restore the credibility of the electoral process.

The judiciary in the Maldives has faced recent criticism. In February the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers found that lawyers and judges in the Maldives are not adequately independent [JURIST report] from outside influence and called for a separation of powers between the parliament and court system. Earlier in February a Maldives court issued a second arrest warrant [JURIST report] for former president Nasheed 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 last January, when Nasheed was still president. In September of last year Amnesty International revealed violent human rights violations [JURIST report] committed in the Maldives against opposition groups and called for an immediate independent investigation into the actions of security forces. In July of last year a court in the Maldives refused to hear a case [JURIST report] about the legality of the arrest of the chief justice, saying it did not have jurisdiction.