CMAG’s newly reformed mandate, approved at the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Australia, includes “situations that might be regarded as constituting a serious or persistent violation of Commonwealth values”, and the “systematic denial of political space, such as through detention of political leaders or restriction of freedom of association, assembly or expression.” These situations have continuously characterized the political environment of the Maldives especially since the change of power of 7 February 2012.
Concerns regarding police brutality and impunity have, for the past year, been raised by the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), the Police Integrity Commission (PIC), as well as civil society groups such as the Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) and the general public. Last July, the UN Human Rights Commissioner also raised serious concerns regarding the human rights situation in the country. Recommendations made on August 30, 2012, by the Commission of National Inquiry on these matters were immediately dismissed by senior government officials; this could only encourage the security forces to disregard the rule of law and commit further human rights abuses in impunity.
Support from the international community, in particular the CMAG, remains essential. International mechanisms for monitoring the country’s human rights situation based on clearly defined benchmarks, accompanied by the provision of technical assistance to the Government of Maldives, will play an integral role in advancing human rights in the country and set the conditions for free and fair presidential elections due to take place in September 2013 . Moreover, support should be extended to Maldivian civil society organizations to raise public awareness about the role of democratic institutions and the importance of separation of powers. Non-governmental organizations should be invited to contribute to monitoring human rights violations and the functioning of existing institutions. The reform and empowering of the HRCM, the PIC, and the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) should be of utmost priority as the report by the Commission of National Inquiry clearly indicated these were the main failures that led to the change of power in February last year. CMAG should monitor and contribute to guide the Government of the Maldives in this process in order to achieve a stable and democratic environment in the country.
FIDH and MDN welcomed the decision of the CMAG at its latest meeting on 28 September 2012 to keep monitoring the situation in the Maldives. At the occasion on the upcoming CMAG meeting on 26 April in London, clear benchmarks representing the views of all parties should be defined and acted upon in order to ensure that this process remains meaningful and supportive to human rights and democratic values defended by the Commonwealth.
To download FIDH/MDN briefer on human rights in the Maldives, click here.