Oral statement for the UPR outcome of the Maldives

16/03/2021
Statement

Madam President,

FIDH and its member organization Maldivian Democracy Network are concerned by the government’s conservative approach to the third UPR cycle, which only reinforces the status quo and risks leaving important human rights issues unaddressed and its staunchest advocates further at risk.

Despite the high acceptance rate of recommendations, the government did not go far enough to show its commitment to address key issues, particularly with regard to: the limited space for civil society to operate; the fight against religious extremism; the right to freedom of religion or belief; the right to freedom of expression; and the death penalty -issues that are all interlinked in the Maldives.

For example, amid the oppressive environment in which Maldivian civil society operates, the government brushed aside international concern over the dissolution of the Maldivian Democracy Network and refused to conduct an investigation into its closure.

With regard to the scourge of religious extremism, while the government expressed its commitment to taking “all measures” to combat “violent extremism and extremist ideologies”, the reality on the ground tells a different story: religious extremists continue to threaten, intimidate, and attack members of civil society, including online, and to operate with total impunity offline.

We are concerned by the government’s blanket refusal to accept all 16 recommendations it received concerning the right to freedom of religion or belief, including one that called for combating attacks against human rights defenders who promote freedom of religion.

We are also disappointed by the fact that none of the 26 recommendations concerning the death penalty received the government’s support.

On a more positive note, we welcome the government’s statement that it was “in the final stages” of ratifying the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. We urge its speedy ratification, the enactment of national legislation, and its implementation to determine the fate or whereabouts of journalist Ahmed Rilwan, who disappeared in August 2014.

Thank you.

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