The following statement is made by the United Nations in the Maldives – 31 May 2006

Male ’Maldives: The UN agencies in the Maldives have been observing the process of constitutional and broader political reform initiated by the President on the 9th of June 2004. We welcome the release of the President’s “Roadmap for the Reform Agenda” as it includes concrete steps towards reform which, when implemented, will lead to a more open and democratic society.  We are also encouraged by commitments expressed to accede to the International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights (ICESCR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) by the end of the year.  This will give further momentum to the reform process and help to ensure that reforms meet international human rights standards.

In the current climate of reform, the UN has noted with increasing concern the escalating number of people being arrested and detained over the past few weeks.  The UN urges the authorities to ensure that all detainees are treated with due process and in accordance with the high standards to which the Government has committed itself.While we welcome the Government’s efforts to provide a more open legal framework for public demonstrations, we are concerned that the recent decree contains some excessive restrictions on the freedom of assembly as enshrined in the ICCPR.

We hope these new laws and regulations will be the subject of further public consultation and debate and will be fully in line with international standards. The UN encourages the Government to continue seeking international advice and assistance to ensure that future legislation is in line with international human rights standards. In this regard we are pleased that the Government has extended an open invitation to the UN Special Rapporteur on Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Expression and the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers to comment on drafts of the related Bills before Parliamentary debate begins.

The UN in the Maldives will continue to pursue its mandate with non- partisan interest and will pursue its objective to achieve concrete human development results in consensus with Government and civil society. The new openness with which public debate is being held should serve to remind us all of our core responsibility to exercise tolerance and to safeguard the principles of justice, human dignity and the well being of all peoples.

-ends-

“The world must advance the causes of security, development and human rights together, otherwise none will succeed. Humanity will not enjoy security without development, it will not enjoy development without security and it will not enjoy either without respect for human rights,” Kofi Annan, General Secretary of the United Nations, 2005.  

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