South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

The Commonwealth today condemned declaration of a month-long emergency in the Maldives by President Abdulla Yameen, citing sweeping powers it gives to the security forces while suspending right to freedom of movement and assembly.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma is following events closely in Maldives and has noted with concern the government’s declaration of the 30-day state of emergency, the grouping said in a statement.

A state of emergency is rare in any Commonwealth country and should be lifted as soon as possible. It remains critical that fundamental rights and freedoms are protected, including freedom of association and freedom of expression and the media, Commonwealth spokesperson Neil said.

“Representatives of the wider Commonwealth family have also expressed concerns about the State of Emergency in Maldives. The Commonwealth will remain in contact with the Government of Maldives to support it in advancing the Commonwealth’s fundamental political values,” HaveeruOnline reported citing the statement.

Hugo Swire, the Minister for Asia at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, also called on the government to end the current state of emergency. He said the state of emergency will impinge on the basic human rights of the and further undermine confidence in the country’s democracy.

“I am particularly concerned by the impact of the state of emergency on the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Maldives constitution, including the right to privacy, freedom from arbitrary detention, freedom from restraint and freedom of movement,” the statement read.

“We urge the government of the Maldives to uphold the commitments it has made – including as a member of the Commonwealth – to democracy and to the rule of law,” it added.

The UK also joined the US in reiterating its previous calls for an end to what it said were politically motivated prosecutions and detentions, including that of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

The country also updated its travel advice for the Maldives, urging visitors to be extra careful. It, however, highlighted the Maldivian government’s stand that there will be no restrictions on tourist movements and that tourist resorts are unlikely to be significantly affected.

Meanwhile, the UK’s top diplomat to the Maldives today separately expressed concerns over the situation in the Indian Ocean island.

“Most concerned by restrictions on fundamental rights and freedoms in the Maldives from today, including to privacy, assembly and movement,” James Dauris said in a tweet.

Maldivian President Yameen yesterday declared a state of emergency for 30 days citing threat to national security and gave sweeping powers to security forces while suspending right to freedom of movement and assembly after arms and explosives were found near his palace.

In 2012, the Commonwealth suspended the Maldives from its democracy and human rights watchdog after the island state’s president Mohamed Nasheed was forced from power at gunpoint.

Updated On: November 5, 2015