Asian Centre for Human Rights

Dedicated to promotion and protection of human rights in Asia

 
ACHR PRESS RELEASE
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ACHR Index: PR/ML/05/05
27 October 2005

Rights group condemns the Kangaroo trial of Maldives’ Opposition Leader

New Delhi:  Asian Centre for Human Rights today condemned the start of what it termed as “Kangaroo trial” of the leader of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, Mr Mohamed Nausheed. He was arrested on 12 August 2005 and charged with sedition and terrorism for allegedly inciting violence against the President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and was produced before the court in Male today morning.

The trials of the opposition political leaders in Maldives have been marked by absolute lack of respect for internationally accepted principles on fair trial such as the right to be informed of all the charges immediately following arrest, to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, standard and burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt, adequate notice and time to the defence to prepare its case, no self-incrimination and the proper opportunity by the defence to cross-examine evidence and witnesses. 

“The charges against Nasheed are without any foundation and politically motivated. The fact that Maldives has no comprehensive Published Rules of Procedure to guide the process of the trial implies that it depends on whims and fancies of the Attorney General and the police.” – Stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of the Asian Centre for Human Rights.

“The lack of sufficient experience of the judges to undertake the role assigned to them implies that the trial is orchestrated to give the colour of a judicial process for the conviction already decided.  The fact that Nausheed has been charged with inciting violence against the President, who is also the head of the judiciary under the constitution makes it a true Kangaroo trial.” – further stated Mr Chakma.

Asian Centre for Human Rights called upon the government of Maldives to release Mr Nausheed unconditionally or at least appoint an expatriate judge from the Commonwealth selected through the Legal Affairs Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat to preside over Nausheed’s trial after the government issues executive decrees, a major source of national legislation in the Maldives, to ensure the provision of basic procedural safeguards for fair trials.

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