Diplomacy Politics

European parliament calls for targeted sanctions over ‘dramatic deterioration’ of Maldives democracy

The European parliament Thursday adopted a resolution calling on member states to consider imposing individual targeted sanctions in response to a “dramatic deterioration” of democracy and human rights in the Maldives.

The resolution called on Maldivian authorities to reform the judiciary, release political prisoners, and to guarantee the constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly.

It urged member states to “publish travel information, warning European citizens about the great discrepancy in the Maldives between the liberal treatment reserved to foreign tourists in complete segregation from the Maldivian population and the increasingly repressive rules applying to its citizens”.

Most MEPs observed that the situation has worsened since the EU parliament passed a resolution in December 2015 urging member states to freeze assets and impose travel bans against top officials.

Among issues of concern were the reintroduction of the death penalty, the murder of blogger Yameen Rasheed and the abduction of journalist Ahmed Rilwan, the growing number of Maldivians joining extremist groups, the suspension of one-third of licensed lawyers, and “politically motivated charges” against opposition lawmakers.

“I believe travel bans are an efficient tool at our disposal to hold the Maldives accountable,” suggested Ignazio Corrao, from the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group.

Europeans account for nearly half of tourist arrivals to the Maldives. With the UK, Germany, Italy and France among the top five markets, more than 400,000 Europeans were recorded as of August.

“The Maldivian government wants you to believe that the country is a paradise, this is simply not the case,” said Wajid Khan from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.

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