UN Human Rights office welcomes turnaround over Maldives flogging sentence

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Rupert Colville [UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré]

A decision to annul a conviction and a sentence of flogging, handed down to a 15 year old girl in the Maldives, has been welcomed by the United Nations Human Rights office.

The Maldives High Court ruled on Wednesday that the girl, whose stepfather is on trial for raping her, had been wrongly convicted by a juvenile court of having premarital sex with another man. She had been a victim of long term sexual abuse within her family.

Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the UN Human Rights office, says that the teenager should never have ended up in court.

"In our view the charge should never have been brought against this child victim. Moreover a sentence of flogging, irrespective of what the offence may be, violates the country's commitments under the UN Convention against torture, the Covenant on civil and political rights and the convention on the rights of the child."

And he says that this particular case highlights the need for changes in the law to protect the most vulnerable in the country.

"We call on all Maldivians to seize this opportunity to push for much needed changes to the system of protection for victims of violence and sexual abuse, particularly children.

And we welcome efforts in this regard, for example, the establishment by the president of a high level committee to review the child protection in the country."

Nicki Chadwick, UN Radio, Geneva.

Duration: 1’18″

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