The United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has said that the declaration of state of emergency in Maldives by President Abdulla Yameen would sabotage the “checks and balances” needed for a fully functioning democracy.
A state of emergency was declared for 15 days on February 5, following the Supreme Court verdict to release nine political leaders and to reinstate 12 suspended parliament members. The declaration suspends several functions of the judiciary and parliament, and allows more power to the state. It also suspends the Criminal Procedure Code.
In the statement released from Zeid’s office, he said that the current turn of events creates a “dangerous concentration of power in the hands of the president.”
He raised concerns on the arrest of Chief Justice Abdula Saeed and another Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed after police and Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) officers had forcefully entered the supreme court and arrested three high-ranking officials. In addition to this, Zeid also highlighted the arrest of former president and President Yameen’s half-brother Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom who has been charged with bribery and conspiracy to stage a coup.
“The Maldives have seen in recent years attacks on political opponents, on journalists, on civil society and human right defenders, and what is happening now is tantamount to an all-out assault on democracy,” Zeid said.
After the arrest of two apex court judges, the remaining three judges had reversed the courts previous ruling to release the nine politicians.
Zeid called on the government to take back the state of emergency status to allow independent institutions to function without the influence of the state.
State of emergency was declared for 15 days on February 5, following the Supreme Court verdict to release nine political leaders and to reinstate 12 suspended parliament members. This suspends several functions of the judiciary and parliament and grants more power to the state. It also suspends the Criminal Procedure Code.