Maldives government officials could face travel bans and asset freezes after the European Union approved targeted sanctions Monday, following months of concern and condemnation over the worsening political and human rights situation.
In its decision the EU “adopted a framework for targeted sanctions in the Maldives, making it possible, if the situation does not improve, to impose a travel ban and asset freeze on relevant individuals and entities.”
The targeted restrictive measures will be taken against persons responsible for “undermining the rule of law or obstructing an inclusive political solution and serious human rights violations,” read a press release.
The EU Council also called on the government to engage with opposition leaders in “genuine dialogue that paves the way for credible, transparent and inclusive presidential elections.”
Brussels and Malé have been at loggerheads over the erosion of rights and a crackdown on the opposition in the country. The EU also fears that this September’s elections will be neither free nor fair.
On Sunday, Fisheries Minister Dr Mohamed Shainee accused the opposition of providing false information to the EU.
“I’m saying there are no embassies of any EU country in the Maldives. So, come to the Maldives to check the situation. Our doors are open. You can get all the information from us.
Jameel Usman, from the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives, was more defiant and warned the EU of consequences if sanctions were imposed.
“If they take steps against the Maldivian people and the country, the losses they will have to endure will not be small either. There are European investors in the Maldives, there will be losses for them too,” he said.
President Abdulla Yameen said he had been warned about sanctions earlier this month but said there were certain values and principles his government would not compromise on, including giving space for religious freedom and the release of political prisoners.
The ranks of high-profile figures jailed or exiled since Yameen took office include two former presidents, two Supreme Court justices, two vice presidents, two defence ministers, leaders of opposition parties, several lawmakers and the country’s chief prosecutor.
The government insists there are no political prisoners in the country and it has dismissed the consensus among the international community about the “serious deterioration of human rights and the extremely limited space” for civil society in the Maldives.
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Source URL: Maldives Independent