The return to prison of former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed is a setback for human rights in the country, the UN said today, calling on the island nation’s government to consider his early release.

Just a month after Nasheed’s 13-year prison sentence was commuted to house arrest, he was taken back to jail on Sunday night, as police used force and pepper spray on the ex- president’s supporters gathered outside his home, the UN rights office (OHCHR) said.

“The return of Mr. Nasheed to prison in our view constitutes a serious setback to the human rights situation as well as to moves towards finding a political solution in the Maldives,” OHCHR spokesman Rupert Colville told journalists.

The OHCHR “has therefore urged the government to consider former President Nasheed’s early release,” Colville added.

Nasheed, who was elected president in 2008 and served until he was toppled in 2012, was sentenced in March after a conviction under tough anti-terror laws, in a widely- criticised trial that the UN, United States and others said was deeply flawed.

Nasheed is being held in the high security prison on the island of Maafushi, but his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) filed a complaint yesterday challenging his transfer from house arrest.

Maldives, an upmarket tourist destination and popular honeymoon spot, has been unsettled in recent months by political protests.

The UN urged the government of President Abdulla Yameen to review the “pending criminal cases against several hundred opposition supporters in relation to the protests.

http://www.business-standard.com Updated On: August 25, 2015