Early today, Friday 10 July 2015, the Government of Maldives submitted its response to the Regular Procedure Communication filed on 12 May 2015 by former President Mohamed Nasheed with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
The offence committed by former President Nasheed, namely using the army to illegally abduct a serving judge, is of utmost severity in Maldives and the rule of law must apply to any person who is alleged to have committed a criminal offence, irrespective of their political status or affiliation.
On the night of 16 January 2012, during Mohamed Nasheed’s tenure as President, Judge Abdulla was abducted by the Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF) and his whereabouts were unknown for 72 hours. Subsequently, he was detained for over 21 days in a military training camp without access to his family or lawyers.
Mr Nasheed made various public statements fully admitting that the arrest was in response to his wishes and fully demonstrating that he has no remorse for his conduct, and that he would do it again.
It is also important to recall that the unlawful actions of former President Nasheed began before the arrest of Judge Abdulla, with the padlocking of the Supreme Court, and the imposition of a new bench of judges without parliamentary approval, thus failing to respect democratic institutions and the principle of the Separation of Powers.
The Government reiterates that the sentencing of former President Nasheed is not politically motivated, that the Constitution of Maldives guarantees the full independence of the Judiciary from the Executive and that the Government can neither interfere nor influence any decision of the Prosecutor General in bringing criminal charges or the Judiciary which is charged with upholding the rule of law. In fact, it is important to note that the Prosecutor General, who had been nominated by former President Nasheed when he was in office, first filed the charges on 15 July 2012.
Like any other citizen of the Maldives, former President Nasheed has been entitled to a transparent trial by an independent and impartial tribunal in accordance with the relevant national laws in force. Throughout the legal proceedings against former President Nasheed, his constitutional right to effective legal representation has been guaranteed and when his legal representatives boycotted the proceedings, the former President was repeatedly reminded of his right to alternative legal representation and that the court did not accept the withdrawal.
The Republic of Maldives has a three-tier court system and the right to appeal is a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 56 of the Constitution. The Government also indicated that the appeal process would have been open to the full scrutiny of the international community.
However, Mr Nasheed failed to file an appeal and instead submitted a Regular Procedure Communication against the Government of Maldives on 12 May 2015 with the UN Working on Arbitrary Detention.
The petition submitted by Mr Nasheed seeks to divert attention from the offence committed by him during his tenure as President of Maldives, namely using the army to abduct a serving judge.
Today, the Government of Maldives has responded comprehensively to each of the allegations raised. It remains the position of the Government that the allegations made by Mr Nasheed are either factually incorrect, or a mischaracterisation of the reality of the position.
The Government reiterates that Mr Nasheed has not been the victim of a politicised process. He has been properly charged and faced a trial for an extremely serious offence and one that was aimed at interfering with an independent judiciary and circumventing the rule of law.
The law cannot be applied selectively. A democracy functions by the application of the rule of law and not its circumvention. Justice must be allowed to take its course without any hindrance or interference.