Maldives: New report reveals repression and torture in 'holiday paradise'
The report, Maldives: Repression of peaceful political opposition, shows that prisoners of conscience in Maldives have been tried and convicted by the Criminal Court without access to a lawyer, or to an independent and impartial appeal mechanism, and that they have been denied even the most basic facilities such as a pen and paper to prepare a defence.
The report also highlights a pattern of torture and ill-treatment in the criminal justice system. This has included chaining in painful positions, the denial of medical treatment and the imposition of floggings. In October 2002 a couple were each flogged 15 times in public for extramarital sex, while five Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights were reported to have been lashed 10 times each in early July 2003 for 'engaging in lesbian sex while in jail.'
Despite repeated attempts to raise fundamental human rights issues with the Maldives authorities, Amnesty International has found that the authorities have habitually ignored human rights complaints or failed to provide satisfactory answers to specific queries.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
'Typically perceived as a tranquil 'holiday paradise', the truth is that behind the sun-kissed facade the Maldives government has a disgraceful record of repressing peaceful opposition.
'What tourists to the islands rarely hear is that in the Maldives dozens of people - including politicians, journalists and others protesting against government policies - have been thrown in jail for peacefully expressing their political opinion.
'It is time for the Maldives authorities to deal with the human rights abuses that bedevil the country.'
Cases highlighted by the report, include:
The organisation is urging the Government of Maldives to:
- release all prisoners of conscience immediately and unconditionally
- investigate allegations of torture through an independent authority and bring anyone involved in torture or other human rights violations to justice
- reform the criminal justice system to ensure the fair trial of prisoners according to international human rights standards
- ensure the independence of the judiciary through a clear separation of the judiciary from the executive
The report can be read online at: http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engasa290022003