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APF raises concerns over trial of HRCM members

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The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives is facing a significant challenge to its independence, the APF told an international meeting of NHRIs.


The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives is facing a significant challenge to its independence, the APF told an international meeting of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) earlier this month.

In September 2014, the Supreme Court of the Maldives launched a suo moto case against the five members of the Commission. The case concerns comments regarding the Supreme Court, which were included in the Commission's report to the upcoming Universal Periodic Review of the Maldives.

At the meeting of the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions (ICC) on 16-17 October 2014, the APF's statement said it was vital that NHRIs are able to give effect to their legal mandate, including engaging with the international human rights system, without fear of reprisals or intimidation.

"The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives is a highly valued and respected member of the APF. It has been a consistent advocate for the rights of women and girls, migrant workers, children with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, including those in detention," the APF said.

"The actions of the Supreme Court, including the serious nature of the charges laid against the five Commissioners, pose a significant threat to the independence of the Commission."

The APF has written two letters to the President of the Maldives, urging the President to preserve the independence of the Commission and to guarantee the immunity of its members.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has also called on the Government of the Maldives to "firmly defend the independence of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives", in line with the commitments made during the first UPR of the Maldives in 2011.

"The Government has a responsibility to ensure a safe operating space for the Commission and for civil society actors in the country, so that they are able to cooperate with UN human rights mechanisms without fear of reprisals," OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said in a statement.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein had written to the Government of the Maldives to express his concerns, she added.

The ICC, leading non-governmental organisations and APF members have also expressed their support for the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives and the critical importance of ensuring the independence of national human rights institutions (NHRIs).

Timor Leste's Provdeor for Human Rights and Justice said in a statement that "NHRIs must always remain independent from undue influence and it is important that State entities always allow NHRIs the space necessary to legally fulfil their mandate."

In its 2014 resolution on NHRIs – which was co-sponsored by 76 States, including the Maldives – the Human Rights Council stressed that NHRIs "should not face any form of reprisal or intimidation … as a result of activities undertaken in accordance with their respective mandates", including their engagement with the international human rights system.

Date: 20 October 2014


Image credits

  1. Maldives flag - Global Panorama, Flickr Creative Commons