Hinnavaru MP and former member of the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM), Jeehan Mahmood, said on Thursday that a new body is being set up to ensure the rights of the people in order to undermine the power of HRCM.
People’s National Congress (PNC) presidential candidate Dr. Mohamed Muizzu said during his campaign event in Raa atoll Hulhudhuffaaru that he will set up an institution such as a civil rights department, where people can file complaints regarding denial of their rights.
Dr. Muizzu said similar offices are set up in other countries as well.
In response, Jeehan, who leads the Parliament's Human Rights Committee, expressed concern that a separate institution is being established in the name of protecting human rights, which could potentially undermine the authority of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), which was established under specific legislation.
Jeehan said it was being done in a similar way that the Local Governance Authority’s (LGA) power was being undermined by creating an "Atolls Ministry". In a post made on Meta, she added she was concerned that the powers of independent institutions are being usurped and attempts are being made to consolidate it with the government.
"This is reminiscent of the time in 2013 to 2018 during PPM’s administration, when the Supreme Court intervened in the functioning of HRCM on the directions of the government,” she said.
Jeehan said that in 2014, during the administration of former president Abdulla Yameen, the Supreme Court had initiated a suo motu case against members of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) and accused them of betraying the country.
The case was then investigated on the grounds that the report submitted for Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was illegal.
During that time, various foreign sources had suggested that the Supreme Court's suo motu case was seen as an attempt by the then government to use the courts as a means to undermine the authority of the HRCM.