In the first case filed with the UN on behalf of former members of a national human rights institution, SRT grantee the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) has asked the UN Human Rights Committee to authoritatively rule that there is a legal right to submit information to the UN and that restrictions on this right amount to serious breaches of international law. Ahmed Tholal and Jeehan Mahmood, former Commissioners of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), brought the case assisted by ISHR.
The HRCM was prosecuted in 2015 by the Supreme Court in the Maldives following a submission they made to the UN’s Universal Periodic Review. The report focused on human rights issues including access to justice and the independence of the judiciary. The Court ruled that the HRCM’s report was unlawful, biased and undermined judicial independence, and ordered the HRCM to follow a set of guidelines designed to restrict its work and its ability to communicate with the UN.
Tholal and Mahmood said they were seeking a ruling from the Committee because they want the HRCM’s right to communicate freely with international human rights mechanisms to be firmly preserved in law and practice.
ISHR’s Legal Counsel Madeleine Sinclair said, “The decision of the Supreme Court to restrict the activities and independence of the Commission is incompatible with the right of safe and unhindered communication with UN bodies, and the prohibition against reprisals for exercising that right. Such a decision by an arm of government is a clear breach of international law.”
The Maldives has also been threatened with suspension from the Commonwealth at a meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG). SRT grantee the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative emailed a submission on the deteriorating situation to the Commonwealth Secretariat’s political division on 19 September 19th 2016. CMAG has moved the Maldives onto their formal agenda for March 2017, and threatened that suspension from the Commonwealth would be considered at that meeting if there was no improvement in the situation.
Full story from ISHR’s website: https://www.ishr.ch/news/reprisals-groundbreaking-legal-proceedings-filed-against-maldives
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