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Maldivian ex-president’s arrest without legal basis


New Delhi: The arrest of former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed was without legal basis and he must be provided with a transparent appeal hearing, an official fact-finding mission report released here on Tuesday said. This 35-page joint report was prepared by the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR). Titled “Justice Adrift: Rule of Law and Political Crisis in the Maldives” the report found that the judiciary system of the Maldives was highly “politicized”. In view of the arrest and trial of former president Nasheed, the report highlights the breakdown of the rule of law and human rights protection in the Maldives.


Nasheed, who was being kept under house arrest earlier, was imprisoned again on Monday “without clear legal basis”, it said, adding that the former president must be promptly provided with a fair and transparent appeal hearing before an independent and impartial tribunal. Nikhil Narayan, the senior legal advisor for South Asia for the ICJ, said, “Based on this fact-finding mission, it was found out that there is a clear politicization of the judiciary system in the Maldives and there has been a compromise in the aspect of human rights. “Narayan said the report found ‘arbitrary’ functioning of the apex courts since the last election in 2013. He also lamented the process in which judiciary was selected and said, the educational requirements for a member to be a part of the judiciary merely required a six-month course. The report also found that the independent institutions like the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) and the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) were also politicized.

The members of ICJ and SAHR conducted the fact-finding mission from May 5 to 13 this year. Maldivian Supreme Court must adopt clear and transparent rules governing how cases are selected, and must allow the JSC and HRCM to function without undue or unlawful interference, the report said. The judicial proceedings in the country were ‘unfair’ and were not adhering to the parliamentary procedures, it pointed out, adding that there was no fair gender representation in the judiciary. Narayan said the country had just three women as judges at lower courts, and the Supreme Court had no representation of a female judge. The issue of religious discrimination, of importance of judges to be Muslim for the judiciary, also needed attention from the government, he added.

The current crisis in the rule of law has also raised threats to the journalists with one journalist working for Minivan News, Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla, disappearing since 2014. The report said strengthening judicial independence, impartiality and accountability were the key elements to getting the country back on track towards democratic consolidation. Nasheed, who leads the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), was transferred to house arrest for two months due to health reasons, before he was arrested again on Monday. He was found guilty of orchestrating the arbitrary detention of Chief Criminal Judge Abdulla Mohamed during his tenure as president. The political system in the Maldives prior to 2008 was an authoritarian system governed through dictatorship first by a sultanate, and then in 1968 when the country became a republic, by the president.



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Dalveer Bhandari re-elected as the judge of ICJ

Bhandari has also served as the judge of Supreme Court of India

The judge of the international court of justice.
Dalveer Bhandari got 121 votes in a 193 members assembly. IANS

Arul Louis

United Nations, November 21

Judge Dalveer Bhandari was re-elected to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Tuesday as the General Assembly rallied behind him in a show of strength that made Britain bow to the majority and withdraw its candidate Christopher Greenwood.

“I am grateful to all the nations who have supported me,” Bhandari told IANS in the Assembly chamber after the election. “It was a big election as you know.” The withdrawal of its candidate by Britain, which had the backing of its fellow permanent members, was a setback for the Security Council that had been locked in a test of wills with the Assembly.

A candidate has to win a majority in both the chambers. Bhandari won majorities in the Assembly in the first 11 rounds of voting over two meetings, while the Council blocked his election by giving majorities to Greenwood in the ten rounds of balloting it held.

“The British ultimately had to bow down to the will of the majority,” a diplomat said. “The Indians stared them down.” The Council’s permanent members have traditionally had a judge in the ICJ, assuming it to be a matter of right. This time the 193-member Assembly asserted itself, forcing the Council to back down and put at risk the continuation of the ICJ perk of the permanent members.

In letters written to the Presidents Miroslav Lajcak of the Assembly and Sebastiano Cardi of the Council, Britain’s Permanent Representative Matthew Rycroft said that his country was withdrawing Greenwood’s candidature keeping “in mind the close relationship that the United Kingdom and India always enjoyed and will continue to enjoy”.

Bhandari’s election was a dramatic face-saving turn of fortunes for India, as he lost the Asian seat on the ICJ to Lebanese lawyer-turned-diplomat Nawaf Salam, who had been campaigning for two years and had the backing of the powerful Organisation of Islamic Cooperation with 55 members in the UN.

Bhandari got a second chance only because an unpopular Britain could not get an Assembly majority for a remaining judgeship requiring a runoff where the two chambers of the UN split in their voting.

Bhandari’s cause became a rallying point for the nations not a member of the Council, who were chafing under the domination of the unrepresentative Council to make a popular show of force.

India hammered home the representative character of the Assembly compared to the Council and insisted that the UN members follow democratic principles and re-elect Bhandari by accepting the global majority he has received in the Assembly.

In the last round of voting on November 13, Bhandari received 121 votes, just short of a two-thirds majority in the 193-member Assembly, while Greenwood received nine in the Council.

“The precedent is clear,” India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin said at a reception for Bhandari attended by representatives of over 160 countries on Thursday.

“As is expected in the 21st century, the candidate who enjoys the overwhelming support of the General Assembly membership can be the only legitimate candidate to go through.” Diplomats familiar with behind-the-scenes manoeuvres said Britain indicated late last week that it would withdraw Greenwood, but over the weekend changed course with the backing of some fellow permanent members and came up with a plan for the Council to call for ending the balloting and set up a joint conference to resolve the deadlock.

The statutes of the ICJ provides for a joint conference made up of three members each from the Council and the Assembly to resolve a deadlock that persists after three election meetings.

India feared the outcome and campaigned resolutely to avoid it, pointing to the precedents in the elections in 2011 and 2014 and earlier when the candidate leading in the Council withdrew in favour of the candidate with the majority in the Assembly even though in those cases permanent members were not involved.

Bhandari’s election upsets what has become a traditional balance in the ICJ. Besides a permanent member going unrepresented, four Asian countries will be represented on the ICJ bench instead of the usual three.

Three incumbent judges of the ICJ — President Ronny Abraham of France, Vice President, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf of Somalia, and Antonio Augusto Cancado Trindade of Brazil – were elected along with Salam in the first four rounds of voting on November 9.

Bhandari and the others elected will start their term in February next year. (IANS)