The Maldives government Sunday night barred the delegation from Law Association for Asia and the Pacific, or LAWASIA, from entering the Maldives.
The high-profile delegation was detained in the airport for approximately 10-hours before they were deported. They are currently in neighbouring Sri-Lanka, sources have confirmed.
The immigration department has not yet revealed why they were not allowed to enter the country.
The purpose of the visit stated that they were on a fact-finding mission to evaluate the status of Maldives’ judiciary and independence of the legal profession.
The LAWASIA mission that arrived in Maldives included: President of LAWASIA, and President of Malaysian Bar, Christopher Leong; the immediate past President and the current President-Elect of Bar Association of India, Prashant Kumar; LAWASIA executive committee member and former President of Bar Association of Sri Lanka, Upul Jayasuriya, county councillor from Singapore for LAWASIA and President of Law Society of Singapore, Gregory Vijayendran; President of the Law Society of New South Wales, Doug Humphreys; the Co-Chair of Human Rights Section of LAWASIA and member of Japan Federation of Bar Associations, Professor Yasushi Higashizawa; a retired Judge of the Court of Appeal of Malaysia, Dato’ Mohamed Ariff Md Yusaf, and solicitor for LAWAISA and member of the Law Society of New South Wales Kate Hewson.
LAWASIA had scheduled the fact-finding mission after concerned lawyers from the Maldives took their grievances to its Council after 54 lawyers were suspended for submitting a petition to the Supreme Court last September.
The lawyers petition included their concerns regarding Maldives’ judiciary and problems faced in practicing and enforcing the law in the country.
Since then, the top court had lifted the suspension of many of these lawyers.
However, the delegation had arrived amidst a state of emergency, which was extended by additional 30 days last week. Meanwhile, Maldives’ Chief Justice Abdullah Saeed, and Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed have also been arrested for alleged charges of bribery and conspiring to overthrow the government.
Many lawyers, including Prosecutor General Aishath Bisham, and many state attorneys at the Attorney General’s Office have deemed the current state of emergency to be unconstitutional.