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Maldives: Release Supreme Court judges and opposition politicians immediately

The Maldivian government must immediately release judges and opposition politicians it has arbitrarily detained through emergency powers, Amnesty International said today.

Biraj Patnaik, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director, said:

“Since the declaration of a state of emergency yesterday, we have seen a wave of arbitrary arrests in the Maldives. 

“A state of emergency cannot be used to carry out what appears to be a purge of the Supreme Court and the opposition. These judges and opposition politicians must be released immediately.

“The world’s eyes are on the Maldives right now and human rights must not become a casualty of this ongoing crisis. 

“The Maldivian government must uphold its obligations under international human rights law and not use measures adopted under the state of emergency as a justification for further human rights violations.”

Invoking sweeping emergency powers, the government has arrested the Chief Justice, Abdulla Saeed, another Supreme Court judge, Justice Ali Hameed, a former president, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the former president’s son-in-law, Mohamed Nadheem, and the head of the Department of Judicial Administration, Hassan Saeed.

Colonel Nazim, a former Defence Minister who was under house arrest, has now been moved back to jail by the Maldivian correctional services, in defiance of a 1 February 2018 Supreme Court order for his release.

A country in crisis

The Maldives current crisis was triggered by a Supreme Court ruling on February 1 that overturned a politically-motivated conviction against former President Mohamed Nasheed for ‘terrorism’ and ordered the release and re-trial of Nasheed and eight other members of the political opposition.

Instead of implementing the verdict, the Maldivian government began arbitrarily detaining members of the political opposition. Yesterday (February 5), the President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency – suspending several clauses of the constitution and securing broad powers to arrest, detain, search and seize property, and limit the right to freedom of assembly.

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