30 January 2017, Male’ – Statement from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Maldives
The Government of Maldives does not agree with the Opinion formulated on 20 January 2017, and published on 26 January, by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) on the Submission made by the Col (Rtd) Mohamed Nazim. Col (Rtd) Nazim was sentenced on 26 March 2015 by the Criminal Court for 11 years imprisonment for illegal possession of firearms.
The Government of Maldives wishes to note that Col (Rtd) Nazim’s trial was conducted as per the relevant laws and regulations governing the criminal justice system in the Maldives. The Criminal Court’s sentence was upheld by both the High Court and the Supreme Court of the Maldives. The Maldives is an independent and sovereign State, and the Government calls on everyone concerned to respect the verdicts of the courts of the Maldives.
Col (Rtd) Nazim was detained during the investigative and trial stages as per the Constitution and the relevant laws of the Maldives. At no stage, and at no time, to date, has Col (Rtd) Nazim lodged a case at a Maldivian court claiming that he was arbitrarily detained during the investigative and trial stages of his case.
The Government of Maldives calls on the WGAD to encourage Col (Rtd) Nazim to use domestic procedures to exercise his right to lodge a case to the relevant courts in the Maldives, if he is convinced that he was arbitrarily detained.
The Government notes further that certain parts of the Response that the Government submitted to the Working Group was reproduced in its Opinion, but some of the critical details that addresses the allegations concerning fair trial and due process were left out. It is quite clear that Col (Rtd) Nazim was given adequate time to prepare his defence, his witnesses were accepted by the Courts, and due process followed.
Contrary to the claim by the WGAD, Col (Rtd) Nazim was not regarded as a political opponent when illegal firearms were found in his house. In fact, he was, at the time, the Minister of Defence and National Security. His criticisms of the Government began only after an independent investigation of his case was initiated. The details of these events were furnished in full to the WGAD. Further, the Government also notes that the Working Group failed to take note of the fact that Col (Rtd) Nazim is not in prison; he has been under house arrest at his residence with his family since 21 April 2016. It is difficult to see how any notion of arbitrariness can be established in this regard.
It is disappointing to note that that the WGAD referred to the public commentaries made by some NGOs about political developments in the Maldives published in the popular media, and referred to these NGOs as “human rights experts”. The Government expects the WGAD to be scrupulously impartial and independent in its deliberations in examining cases before it, and not be swayed by media reports. It is essential that cases are determined by the evidence presented and not on the basis of anecdotal observations or political reports.
The Government notes that the WGAD considers it important to engage with the Government on this case. It is however regrettable that the WGAD chose to initiate such an engagement, only after publishing its Opinion, not before it. The Government has consistently maintained its position that it will continue to cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council including the Special Procedures Branch. The Government further reaffirms its commitment to ensuring free and fair trials to everyone, and guarantees all fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution. However, it maintains that it is not for the Executive to intervene in the judicial process. The correct forum for resolving these matters remains with the Courts.
It is important that the WGAD operates with impartiality and credibility, irrespective of the country concerned, so that the integrity of the process is not undermined by popular sentiments expressed in the media.