Maldives: Serious concerns about charges against Human Rights Commissioners
The Supreme Court of the Maldives has brought criminal charges against the National Human Rights Commission. The decision comes after the Commission submitted a report to the UN Human Rights Council as part of the Universal Periodic Review, describing the state of the judiciary in the country. All five Commissioners have been summoned to appear before the Court tomorrow, 24 September, on a charge of high treason – a serious charge which carries a possible penalty of life imprisonment.
The APT is extremely concerned about this decision. It is a serious attack on the independent work of National Human Rights Institutions and on the international system of human rights as a whole.
We therefore call on the authorities of the Maldives to respect the mandate and immunities of the Commission, in accordance with the Human Right Commission Act 2006.
We also call on the government of the Maldives to reaffirm its commitment to human rights and the international human rights system by providing support and protection to the Human Rights Commission so that the Commission can carry out its functions and responsibilities without fear or favour.
The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives enjoys an excellent reputation within the international human rights community and is a long standing partner of the APT. The Commission is the designated National Preventive Mechanism, established under the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture.
The five Human Rights Commissioners now risk imprisonment for simply fulfilling their legally protected mandate in relation to the Human Rights Council (of which the Maldives is a member).
These charges undermine the role and mandate of the Commission. They are also an attack on the international human rights system and on the principles it upholds.
We remind the Maldives that it voted in favour of Resolution 24/24, adopted by the Human Rights Council in September 2013, on taking all appropriate measures to protect those who seek to cooperate with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights from any act of intimidation or reprisal. This includes National Human Rights Institutions, their members and staff.