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Will remain unbiased, always advise for what is right: AG Riffath

Shahudha Mohamed
30 May 2019, MVT 11:30
Attorney General (AG) Ibrahim Riffath. PHOTO: PRESIDENT'S OFFICE
Shahudha Mohamed
30 May 2019, MVT 11:30

Current Attorney General (AG) Ibrahim Riffath, was one of the most prominent voices calling for justice free from external influences, during the administration of former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

However, he found himself the target of heavy criticism, regarding his counsel on certain matters, after having accepted the position of Attorney General in incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's government.

He faces accusations of acting in his own interests without considering the damage posed to the state, particularly in cases where the state must shoulder heavy financial burdens. He is also accused of being biased towards companies he represented during his time as a lawyer.

In response to local media Mihaaru's inquiries to Riffath regarding his counsel to the state, the AG assured that he has never given advice unconstitutionally in the particular interest of any parties.

He asserted that he still held on to his morals and standards and will keep prioritising the state and people's rights in the future.

"We have to accept the reality that the previous governments have done many things wrong".

Riffath stated that Maldives Police Service, Maldives Correctional Services and independent authorities were all in a state where many had lost their jobs unlawfully. He noted that various cases were filed against the state with the government change following 2018's presidential elections.

According to Riffath, of the cases reviewed by AG Office, those regarding job positions alone exceeded 90 cases.

The President's Office estimated the state's compensation in cases where the victim was treated unfairly to rise over USD 2 billion.

Riffath relayed the details of such a case, stating that many aspects are reviewed by many parties before a decision is reached.

"I have never taken a stand in court without fully reviewing the case presented, whether the case concerns a project or a service".

Drawing attention to the culture of committing more crimes to cover up a mistake made by the government, Riffath stated his belief that it is not shameful for lawyers from AG Office to admit to a mistake made by the state.

Asserting that President Solih took the county's reins to bring about positive change, he stated that the current government will return the people any rights that were stripped away from them.

Stating that no one will be given compensation that does not reflect what they rightfully deserve, the AG said that if any wrong counsel was given in the past, the current government would work to fix it.

Regaining public trust

AG Riffath declared that he left his private law firm with the intention of serving the people.

"I am stating very clearly, that cases are not reviewed biased towards those in the government. I am carrying out my responsibilities under Article 133 of the constitution. I always try to follow that which is stated by the law", he said.

Riffath declared that he would always advocate for the penalised party to be compensated properly. As an example, he spoke of how the Supreme Court upheld the Civil Court's sentence to pay MVR 348 million to Dheebaajaa Investments Pvt Ltd, and why he repeatedly asserted it was not a legitimate amount.

"Where is the problem in reviewing Dheebaajaa's losses in a lower court? There is no problem. Why did the Supreme Court uphold the lower court's verdict when they sentenced the state to pay MVR 348 million without any further investigation?", Riffath questioned.

Speaking of the cases where the state is set to compensate other parties, Riffath said that contracts must be annulled in such a way that both sides suffer minimal losses.

AG explained that the state has to bear the financial responsibilities in such cases since legal procedures are not fully considered while nullifying agreements. Nullifying the agreement handing over Velana International Airport's operations to GMR Group and the agreement with Dheebaajaa were both examples where the state had to offer large amounts in compensation, he said.

Riffath asserted that those who provided counsel on these cases must shoulder the responsibility of nullifying the agreements unlawfully.

"In the end, they have to be compensated with public tax money. That money must be used only when and where there is no other alternative. When someone's rights have been stripped away due to incorrect legal counsel, you cannot say that they are not deserving of compensation".

Additionally, Riffath affirmed his belief in ensuring everyone's rights at the same level, stating that someone completely unrelated to the government may have lost their right similar to someone working for the state.

The AG guaranteed that the state would right their wrongs in their efforts to ensure rights for every individual.

"Wrong is wrong whether it is carried out by ordinary citizens, or the state. To try and avoid repeating such mistakes is not shameful."

"It is not grief-worthy or shameful. It is a sign that we're on the right path. I will establish that trust".

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