Rights group condemns removal of Maldives Supreme Court justices

Rights group condemns removal of Maldives Supreme Court justices

[JURIST] The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) [advocacy website] on Thursday condemned [press release] the removal of two Maldives Supreme Court [official website] justices including Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain. The dismissal of the justices stems from an amendment to the Judicature Act, 2010 [text, PDF] passed on December 10 by the Maldives parliament, which reduced the number of Supreme Court judges from seven to five. The Geneva-based advocacy group has criticized the amendment, stating that “the Maldivian parliament and executive have effectively decapitated the country’s judiciary and trampled on the fundamental principles of the rule of law and separation of powers in a democratic State.” The amendment directed the nation’s Judicial Services Commission to select two justices to be removed from office by a two-thirds majority of parliament. The Chief Justice and Justice Muthasim Adnan were removed by a vote of parliament on December 14. The ICJ has called for the reversal of the dismissal on the grounds it violates the Maldives’ Constitution and international standards on independence of the judiciary.

The Maldives Supreme Court has generated significant controversy over the last two years. In October the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] expressed concern [JURIST report] over the Supreme Court’s prosecution of five members of Maldives’ Human Rights Commission [official website]. In March the Supreme Court dismissed [JURIST report] the country’s four top election commissioners, giving each a six-month jail sentence and three-year suspension for “disobeying orders.” In November of last year the Supreme Court suspended [JURIST report] the nation’s presidential election for the third time.