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Lawyers claim govt holding politicians "hostage"

Farah Ahmed
02 February 2018, MVT 23:08
Lawyer Hisaan Hussain (L) and former deputy Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem (R) speaking at a press conference held on February 2, 2018, following the apex court's landmark ruling to release all political prisoners and reinstate the unseated parliamentarians. MIHAARU PHOTO / HUSSEIN WAHEED
Farah Ahmed
02 February 2018, MVT 23:08

The lawyers that represent the politicians who were freed following the Supreme Court’s unprecedented order late Thursday night, have claimed that the government is holding their clients “hostage”, the longer it delays enforcing the top court’s order.

The apex court issued a landmark ruling on Thursday ordering the release of all political prisoners including former President Mohamed Nasheed, former Vice President Ahmed Adheeb and MP Faris Maumoon, reinstating the ousted parliamentarians and nullifying its earlier ruling on floor crossing.

Despite the ruling, the government has not yet released anyone from custody.

Speaking at the press conference, Jumhoory Party’s leader Qasim Ibrahim’s lawyer Hisaan Hussain said that all the political prisoners who were recently released were sentenced in contravention of the Constitution and all the international human rights covenants that Maldives is party to. Noting that the court order had also highlighted this, Hisaain said the lawyers have been making this claim for months.

She added that when the top court of the country issues a verdict, the government will have to begin enforcing it “without any excuses” and reiterated the call to release the political leaders who are still in jail, immediately.

“When the court rules on an issue and orders a certain action, it is very definitive and it can’t be ignored. There is no ‘next-step’. There are no legal grounds backing the government’s claims,” she said.

Hisaan went on to allege that the government is deliberately lingering on bureaucratic procedures to delay the political prisoners’ release.

Former deputy Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem, who was also present at the press conference, said that the lawyers have now filed a case related to the released politicians’ habeas corpus at the Criminal Court, and that the court may schedule a hearing for Friday night.

“There are no warrants that allow [the state] to keep these nine individuals in custody further. So the government should ensure their release, because as long as they remain in prison, all parties involved in keeping them [there] can be held liable,” Shameem said.

In response to the concerns raised by the government regarding the Supreme Court order, Shameem said that there was nothing more to discuss and reiterated that the government should begin enforcing it immediately.

Lawyer Riffath also welcomed the court’s decision and said that it came at an important time, politically. He also said that the government’s actions following the Supreme Court’s ruling prove that it is not acting in “good faith.”

While the government delays enforcing the top court’s ruling, the order explicitly states that the government, parliament and security forces have to fully comply with the court’s decision and that undermining it would constitute a felony.

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