Maldives: Urgent resolution on government’s restrictions on the NGO Maldivian Democracy Network

18/11/2019
Statement

Delegates gathered at the FIDH 40th Congress,

Noting the statement issued by the Maldives’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on 10 October 2019 to announce that it had “imposed a temporary cessation” on the Maldivian Democracy Network’s (MDN’s) activities in response to “widespread public condemnation” of a report published by MDN in 2016 on the rise of violent extremism in the Maldives.

Noting that the “temporary cessation” will be effective for the duration of the authorities’ “investigation into the matter.”

Noting the press release issued by MDN on 9 October 2019 to offer an apology for “the unfortunate use of language” in some sections of its 2016 report and the retraction of the report for further review.

Noting that MDN has extended its full cooperation to the Maldives Police Service in its investigation.

Recalling that under Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which the Maldives is a state party, the only permissible restrictions to the right to freedom of association are those “prescribed by law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”

Expressing concern that in the absence of any information concerning an investigation, the “temporary cessation” of MDN’s activities is, in fact, an indefinite suspension of the organization’s work.

Noting that according to the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) statement dated 12 October 2019, the government’s actions appeared to be in violation of “the fundamental rights of expression (Article 28) and right to association (Article 30[b]) and also of right to lawful and fair administrative action (Article 43[a]) guaranteed in the 2008 Constitution.”

Recalling the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders’ open letter sent to President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on 8 August 2019 concerning the ongoing threats against human rights defenders in the Maldives.

Expressing deep concern over the lack of action by law enforcement agencies to investigate and respond to threats and death threats against human rights defenders.

Condemn in the strongest terms the Maldivian government’s order to MDN to stop its activities.

Urge the Maldivian authorities to immediately lift the arbitrary restrictions imposed on MDN, and to protect its staff, board members, and their families from attacks and other acts of harassment and intimidation.

Express their deepest concern over the ongoing threats and harassment against human rights defenders in the Maldives, particularly through online social media platforms.

Welcome the government’s pledge to “use the full force of the law” against those who issue threats and call for violence against others in the name of defending religion.

Urge the authorities to conduct full and transparent investigations into all cases of threats, harassment, and violence against human rights defenders and other members of civil society.

Call upon the government to address rampant religious extremism in the Maldives.

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statement