Follow @southasiaanalys

Maldives: Foreign Minister Dunya Defends the Judiciary in UNHCR Meeting:

Paper No. 5659                           Dated 5-Mar-2014

By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan

In a direct attack on the Commissioner of UNHCR, Dunya Maumoon in the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Commission, called on the international community to refrain from undermining the Maldivian Judicial system. She said on 3 March 2014- " We request international partners and supporters-We request you to contribute constructively in overcoming our challenges. We urge you not to undermine our judicial system."

This is perhaps in reference to the comments made by the UNHC for Human Rights Navi Pillay who last year accused the Supreme Court of ‘subverting the democratic process’.

The question is not one of subverting the judiciary- but one of the judiciary repeatedly subverting democracy in Maldives and this should be the cause of concern not only to the Maldivians but to those in the region too.

The Election Commission Chief Fuwad in his deposition before the oversight committee of the "opposition" in the Majlis said on 4 March, that he did not believe that the Election Commission was fully independent as some of the powers and responsibilities have been transferred to other institutions by the judgement of the Supreme Court that annulled the first presidential poll of September 7, 2013.

Some instances pointed by the Chief of Election Commission in support of his deposition were-

*     Signing of the voter’s list personally by all the contesting candidates.

*     Compelling the EC to use a person from Police Service to transport the election materials. This would actually give the power to the member of the Police personnel in stationed in the EC whether to transport or not. In the Presidential elections for the second time, the Police Officer in charge at the EC building refused to take the election materials to the booths! The election had to be postponed!

*     The Supreme Court suo motu adopted a mechanism for prosecuting the EC personnel for contempt of court!

It is to be noted that the Election Commission did not obtain the signatures of the candidates in the voters’ list in the recently held local council elections as mandated by the Supreme Court in the presidential elections of September 2013. Surprisingly the Supreme Court did not take up the issue suo motu as one would have expected. The PPM also did not file a petition before the Supreme Court directly as they had done earlier, probably because they made a good showing in the council elections. One cannot say how it would have turned out if the MDP had won overwhelmingly in the council elections.

The problem will continue with the elections to the Majlis coming soon. It is not too late for the Supreme Court to take up suo motu thistime, this issue of "all candidates personally endorsing the voter’s lists" which is not practical by any means. This is a "constructive suggestion"

Former President Nasheed, on the same day (4 March 2104) in one of meetings made an open accusation against the judiciary and I quote" We can never accept the level of political influence and the ugly money of corruption that has entered ... in the courts of Maldives. Development for the Maldives can only be achieved if the people of Maldives are able to get justice and equality.:

Nasheed also added that the MDP’s priority is judicial reform. "We cannot accept the judiciary’s meddling with the Election Commission under the Parliament’s guardianship."

Too late in the day Nasheed is thinking about reforming the judiciary which he should have done on top priority in 2010 itself after he assumed office!