Restore former Maldives president Nasheed’s right to stand for election: UNHRC
Maldives former President Mohamed Nasheed’s conviction on terrorism charges was based on vague laws and contained serious flaws, and the country must restore his right to stand for office, the UN Human Rights Committee has said.
Nasheed, 50, the country’s first democratically-elected leader -- was sentenced to 13 years in jail on terror charges in March 2015 over the arbitrary arrest of chief criminal judge Abdullah Muhammed during his presidency.
He was granted asylum in the UK after he was authorised to seek medical treatment there amid mounting foreign pressure. He was disqualified from running in presidential elections for 16 years.
The committee stated that the judicial proceedings in which Nasheed was convicted were based on a vague legislation, contained serious flaws and violated his right to a fair trial.
“Political rights can be suspended or restricted only in exceptional circumstances and under certain conditions,” said Sarah Cleveland, member of the UN Human Rights Committee – an expert body that oversees implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) by its States parties.
“Judicial proceedings that violate the right to fair trial can render the resulting restriction of political rights arbitrary,” she added.
In its decision of April 4, which was made public yesterday, the Committee stated that the judicial proceedings in which Nasheed was convicted were based on vague legislation, contained serious flaws and violated his right to a fair trial under the Covenant.
The committee, in its decision said that Maldives is under an obligation to provide Nasheed with an effective remedy and accordingly, it is obligated to “restore his right to stand for office, including the office of President.” The committee underscored Maldives’ obligation to “avoid similar violations in the future, including reviewing its legislation to ensure that any restriction on the right to stand for office is reasonable and proportionate.”
Nasheed filed his submissions to the Human Rights Committee in July 2013 and October 2016. The Committee’s decision also directs Maldives to “quash [Nasheed’s] conviction, review the charges against him taking into account the present views, and, if appropriate, conduct a new trial ensuring all fair trial guarantees”.
The Human Rights Committee also stressed Maldives’ responsibility to provide effective remedy.
“As a party to the ICCPR, Maldives is obliged to make full reparation to individuals whose rights have been violated. We have asked Maldives to inform us within 180 days about the measures they have taken to implement our decision,” added Yuval Shany, Vice-Chair of the Committee.
The Human Rights Committee is composed of 18 independent experts who are not UN staff and serve in their personal capacity. They are elected for a term of four years by States parties.
The Committee also found that the resulting restrictions on Nasheed’s right to stand for office violated his rights to political participation under article 25 of the ICCPR.
The Human Rights Committee oversees implementation by States parties of the ICCPR. Nasheed was able to make a complaint to the Human Rights Committee because the State Party in question, Maldives, is also a party to the Optional Protocol to that Covenant.