Maldivian Supreme Court Urged To Reconsider Decision Against Rights Commission

Two United Nations human rights experts have called on the Supreme Court of the Maldives to reconsider its verdict against the Maldivian Human Rights Commission, after the Commission cooperated with a key UN human rights mechanism.

"The Supreme Court's decision is purely and simply an act of reprisal against the Human Rights Commission for its legitimate cooperation with the UN human rights system and its mechanisms," said the UN Special Rapporteurs on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, and on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, Friday.

"It is an undue interference into the independent work of the Commission and their right to share information freely with the UN," the experts stressed, recalling the Commission's submission to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States by other States, in order to improve the situation in all countries and address violations wherever they occur.

On 16 June, the Maldivian Supreme Court ruled that the Commission's submission to the review of the Maldives, which was held in May, was unlawful, biased and undermined judicial independence in the country. The submission included criticism of the judiciary and the Supreme Court, with reference to a report presented by Special Rapporteur Knaul following her 2013 visit to the Maldives.

In its verdict, the Supreme Court also imposed an 11-point set of guidelines, including ensuring that their activities are "conducted with the full cooperation of other state institutions" and that they "will not ruin the reputation of the Maldives". The experts believe that this is "an attempt to strip the Human Rights Commission of its independence de jure and de facto and to severely limit its constitutional prerogative to promote, as well as monitor and assess observance of, human rights in the country."

"The Supreme Court has acted with complete disregard not only for the country's international human rights obligations, but also for the Maldives' Constitution which enshrines the independence and powers of the Human Rights Commission," the experts stressed.

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