Maldives Urged to Release Imprisoned Former President

Former President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed. UN Photo / Devra Berkowitz (file)
Former President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed. UN Photo / Devra Berkowitz (file)

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has expressed deep concern that Government of the Maldives after former President Mohammad Nasheed was once again sent to prison, calling the move a “serious set-back” for the country.

“We had been encouraged by the Government’s earlier decision to move Mr. Nasheed to house arrest after widespread national and international criticism of the clearly flawed trial which resulted in him being sentenced to 13 years in jail in March this year,” said Rupert Colville, an OHCHR spokesperson.

Mr. Nasheed was however suddenly transferred on Sunday night to the high-security prison on Maafushi Island.

“We also understand that force, including pepper spray, was used against his supporters who gathered in the narrow alley around his residence to show their solidarity and protest against his renewed imprisonment,” Mr. Colville continued.

The Office of the High Commissioner has conducted two missions to Maldives in recent months to discuss these issues with the authorities, visiting Mr Nasheed both in jail and while he was under house arrest at his residence. “[His] return…to prison in our view constitutes a serious set-back to the human rights situation as well as to moves towards finding a political solution in the Maldives.”

Urging the Government to consider former President Nasheed’s early release, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, therefore urged the review of pending criminal cases against several hundred opposition supporters in relation to the protests in recent months.

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Rakesh Raman