19 January 2012, Male’; H.E. Mr. Aslam Shakir, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs met with Dr. Alyssa Ayres, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Department of State, South and Central Asia Affairs, today at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Discussions at the meeting focused on the ongoing extremist religious rhetoric that is being used by opposition political figures, and highlighted the need for urgent judicial reform. Detailing the issues surrounding the independence and competence of the judiciary the State Minister noted that the judicial system, since becoming independent in 2008 with the enactment of the Maldives’ first, democratic constitution, has not lived up to international norms and obligations. He noted that the judiciary’s accountability, effectiveness and independence had been undermined by the actions of certain powerful, rogue judges that act above the law. The Minister also shared information on the pamphlets and statements given by the opposition political figures inciting religious hatred and violence especially against Jews and Christians. The State Minister expressed the Government’s concern over the recent rise in hate speech and extremist rhetoric that could lead to the alienation of the Maldives in the international community.
Quoting from the report of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), released in February this year, the State Minister highlighted the prevailing specific issues within the judiciary such as the lack of procedures, standard evaluation mechanisms and the opaqueness of the Judicial Services Commission. The State Minister informed Dr Ayres that the Government had unconditionally accepted the recommendations of the ICJ, but that these recommendations are yet to be formally accepted by the Judiciary.