NEW DELHI: In a rather strong statement, India has called upon Maldives to safeguard space for legitimate political dissent and adhere to due process, even as it stopped short of demanding the release of Mohamed Nasheed, the archpalego’s jailed former President.
India’s statement was read out during the universal period review of Maldives at the UNHRC in Geneva on Wednesday.
“Maintaining public trust requires strong adherence to due process. The space for legitimate political dissent must be safeguarded,” said the Indian statement.
This was a clear reference to the imprisonment of Nasheed as well as his fellow Cabinet colleague and then Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim, which had been flayed by the Indian Ocean nation’s Opposition.
Since then, most of the Opposition had closed ranks, staging regular street protests, with the latest protest staged on May 1 following which several Opposition leaders were arrested.
Although the Indian delegation did not specifically ask for the release of Nasheed who was sentenced to 13 years, the statement in Geneva is a clear stepping up of pressure by New Delhi.
India also took note of the status of migrant workers in Maldives and pointed out that violent attacks had taken place recently. “We recommend that the Government of Maldives puts in place measures for the safety and security of foreign workers and effectively implements the Anti-Human Trafficking Act,” it said.
These comments were much more critical than India’s remarks during Maldives first cycle of UPR in November 2010, when Nasheed Government was in power. The only prescription that India gave in 2010 was that Maldives should ensure that its Human Rights Commission was fully compliant with Paris principles.
Earlier in Parliament, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh, in a written reply, said that the government was aware of the arrest and subsequent sentencing of Nasheed.