Maldives Supreme Court subverting the democratic process: Pillay

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Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expressed her deep concern Wednesday about "the dangerous drift in the democratic process" in the Maldives largely as a result of the Supreme Court's repeated interventions in the presidential election process.

"I am alarmed that the Supreme Court of the Maldives is interfering excessively in the Presidential elections, and in so doing is subverting the democratic process and violating the right of Maldivians to freely elect their representatives," the High Commissioner said.

A release from the High Commissioner's office noted that the Supreme Court nullified the first round of the Presidential Election of 7 September 2013 on the basis of irregularities in the process, despite the general conclusions by national and international observers that the election was free and fair.

"The court also imposed on the Elections Commission an onerous set of guidelines for the conduct of the election, which will be difficult to satisfy," Pillay said. It was on this basis that police prevented the Elections Commission from carrying out its plan to re-run the election on 19 October 2013.

The Human rights chief stressed that "Judges should act in accordance with the principles of impartiality, propriety, equality and due diligence, as reflected in the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of Judiciary, the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, and Maldives' own judicial code of conduct."

The High Commissioner observed that the Supreme Court had threatened to charge lawyers and media with contempt of court for challenging the court's decisions.

"The Supreme Court appears set on undermining other independent institutions, stifling criticism and public debate, and depriving litigants of the legal representation of their choice," Pillay said. "

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’34″

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