The UK’s Bar Human Rights Committee (BHRC) has expressed concern at the annulment of the first round of presidential elections, stating that such a verdict was “particularly troubling in the context of the ongoing international criticism concerning the lack of independence of the Maldivian judiciary and the lack of adequate separation of powers.” The BHRC conducted independent observations of the trial of former President Mohamed Nasheed in the Hulhumale Magistrate Court earlier this year, a trial the MDP presidential candidate contended was a politically-motivated attempt to bar him from contesting the upcoming election. The BHRC concurred in its observation report: “BHRC is concerned that a primary motivation behind the present trial is a desire by those in power to exclude Mr Nasheed from standing in the 2013 elections, and notes international opinion that this would not be a positive outcome for the Maldives,” wrote observer Stephen Cragg on behalf of the BHRC, the international human rights arm of the Bar of England and Wales. In its most recent statement, the BHRC noted that the Supreme Court’s verdict to annul the September 7 election, in which Nasheed received 45.45 percent of the popular vote, “runs contrary to the conclusions of national and international election monitors, including the expert Commonwealth Observer Group, which confirmed that the electoral process was free, fair, well-organised and transparent. BHRC further notes with concern that the Court’s verdict appears to have been based on an unsubstantiated and as yet undisclosed police report.”
“Recent reports indicating that on October 10 the Progressive Party of Maldives filed a petition to the Supreme Court to invalidate the candidacy of Mr Nasheed are also cause for concern,” the BHRC added.
“BHRC urges the Maldivian national authorities to conduct prompt and effective investigations into these incidents, and to ensure that human rights, electoral freedoms and respect for the rule of law, including for Constitutional provisions, are respected at all times, not least in the current uncertain electoral climate,” the statement concluded.