The foreign affairs committee of the European Parliament on Monday discussed the human rights situation in the Maldives, raising concerns over radicalism and the reintroduction of the death penalty.
Briefing committee members, Dietmar Krissler, head of the European External Action Service for the Maldives region, said the “political and human rights situation” has been a source of concern since President Abdulla Yameen came to power in November 2013.
“We deplore that many opposition leaders are in prison or restricted in their movements,” he said, noting that many were convicted under controversial anti-terrorism laws and disqualified from challenging Yameen in next year’s presidential election.
“There’s also a worrying trend of reduced freedom of expression and freedom of association and some journalists and media are facing intimidation and harassment.”
Other concerns include plans to resume executions after a six-decade moratorium, a high incidence of abuse and violence against women, and a recent supreme court ruling that declared itself the final authority to determine the legitimacy of the parliament’s removal of state officials.
Krissler noted that the concerns were raised during the third annual EU-Maldives policy dialogue in late May.
The death penalty was “high on the agenda” when EU heads of missions visited the Maldives last month, he said in response to questions posed by MEPs.
“A strong message was passed to the government on the EU’s principled rejection of the application of the death penalty,” he said.
“I found it interesting and I will also point others to this idea that tourists could be made aware of this issue. That is, of course, something where we have to start reflecting how we could go about this.”
Krissler said the EU should also press for electoral reforms to ensure that the 2018 presidential election is credible, transparent and inclusive. He noted that the Maldives has invited the EU to conduct a mid-term assessment as a follow-up to the observation of the 2013 presidential election.
He added that “eliminating” contenders in the 2018 race appeared to be “a deliberate policy of certain elements of the government”.
The EU should be “very adamant” on the expectations for next year’s election, he said.
Ahmed Shiaan, Maldivian ambassador to the EU, meanwhile sought to downplay the human rights concerns in the wake of the committee meeting.
He told local media that the discussion was “routine” and stressed that MEPs did not consider imposing sanctions. “This is a big encouragement for the Maldives,” he told Sun Online.
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Source URL: Maldives Independent