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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:

  • Mohamed Nasheed, reformist member of parliament - banished. In November 2001 banished to a remote atoll (island) for two and half years after a two-hour trial at which he was not permitted a lawyer or to speak in his own defence. Later placed under house arrest, then released, but denied his parliamentary seat. Has been the subject of a long history of political persecution, including various arrests and terms of imprisonment.
  • Mohamed Zaki, businessman - sentenced to life for alleged subversion. In January 2002 arrested along with three others and held in solitary confinement with no family visits for several months, including in harsh conditions at the island prison, Maafushi. Charged with calling for the government's overthrow in an internet magazine. Tried without a lawyer, denied even pen and paper to prepare an appeal application. Sentenced to life imprisonment on 7 July 2002.
  • Ibrahim Luthfee, businessman - tortured. In September 2002, severely ill-treated during detention in Maafushi prison: handcuffed and chained to an H-shaped iron girder - unable to move, sit or bend over properly - for 11 days. Developed serious health problems, including swollen legs and an eye infection. Was eventually allowed medical treatment in May 2003. Escaped and claimed refugee protection.
  • Naushad Waheed, a businessman, artist and government critic - sentenced to 15 years for alleged treason. In December 2001 arrested and held without charge for 10 months. In October 2002 he was tried without access to a lawyer or any opportunity to defend himself. Sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment. Currently held in a cell with some 20 other prisoners at Maafushi prison. Has reportedly been denied medical treatment despite mental health and weight loss problems.
  • 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:

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