A 10-point human rights agenda for President Solih

15/11/2018
Press release

(Malé, Paris) Maldivian President-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih must address key human rights issues during his first 100 days in office, FIDH and MDN said today. Mr. Solih, of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and a partner of the joint opposition coalition, was elected on 23 September 2018 with 58% of the votes, beating incumbent President Abdulla Yameen. Mr. Solih will take office on 17 November 2018.

“Citizens of the Maldives have chosen a new leadership that campaigned on the promise to significantly improve the Maldives’ human rights record. President-elect Solih must deliver on his campaign pledges and take immediate steps to address key human rights issues.”

Adilur Rahman Khan, FIDH Vice-President

During his election campaign, Mr. Solih promised to repeal the 2016 Defamation and Freedom of Expression Act, ensure freedom of the press, and investigate the disappearance of journalist Ahmed Rilwan and the murder of blogger Yameen Rasheed.

“Human rights in the Maldives have suffered greatly in recent years, and much will have to be done to restore respect for human rights and the rule of law. President-elect Solih must make the protection of human rights and the establishment of accountability for past and ongoing abuses a priority for his administration.”

Shahindha Ismail, MDN Executive Director

FIDH and MDN call on President-elect Solih to address the Maldives’ key human rights challenges during his first 100 days in office. This includes directing the relevant authorities to take the necessary steps to:

1. Promote a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy for all acts of harassment of human rights defenders (HRDs), investigate reports of online threats against HRDs, and take legal action against those responsible for such attacks.

2. Ensure civil society can freely and effectively operate without any hindrance and end all restrictions on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of association that are inconsistent with the provisions of international human rights instrument to which the Maldives is a state party.

3. End all acts of harassment of journalists and media outlets and ensure respect and protection of the right to freedom of expression. Amend the 2016 Defamation and Freedom of Expression Act and the proposed Media Commission Bill to bring them in line with international standards related to the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

4. Guarantee the independence of the judiciary from the executive branch, and encourage the respect of fair trial rights, including by opening court proceedings to the public.

5. End all acts of harassment of lawyers, including surveillance and the arbitrary suspensions of their licenses, and support the establishment of an independent Bar Council. Thoroughly and independently investigate all reports of online and offline intimidation and attacks against lawyers.

6. Conduct thorough, transparent, independent, and impartial investigations into the 2014 disappearance of journalist Ahmed Rilwan and the 2017 murder of blogger Yameen Rasheed and seek assistance from the international community to determine the fate or whereabouts of Mr. Rilwan and to identify those responsible for the murder of Mr. Rasheed.

7. Conduct a thorough and independent investigation into allegations of human rights violations committed during the State of Emergency (from 5 February to 22 March 2018), and ensure accountability for abuses committed during that period.

8. Combat hate speech, intolerance, threats, and all other acts of intimidation and harassment against those who merely exercise their legitimate right to freedom of opinion and expression, particularly online.

9. Ensure that detention conditions comply with international standards, including the United Nations (UN) Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (‘Mandela Rules’) and the UN Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders (‘Bangkok Rules’). Ensure the provision of adequate medical care, the respect of visitation rights, and the improvement of hygienic and sanitary conditions. End the practice of torture and ill-treatment of inmates, investigate all cases of custodial deaths as well as all allegations of torture and other acts of ill-treatment in all places of detention in the Maldives, and provide families of detainees with their medical records while in custody.

10. Ensure that infrastructure and investment projects are undertaken in compliance with core human rights obligations, including those under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (to which the Maldives is a state party) and with international standards, including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Guarantee that prior and adequate consultations are undertaken with affected communities and that social, health, and environmental impact assessments are conducted by independent agencies before projects are approved, and that effective non-judicial redress and complaint mechanisms are put in place.

Press contact
FIDH: Ms. Audrey Couprie (English, French), +33648059157 (Paris)
MDN: Ms. Shahindha Ismail (English, Dhivehi) +9603343609 (Malé)
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