In March, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom announced the government's Roadmap for the Reform Agenda Ushering In a Modern Democracy. It promised a new constitution by June 2007 and the first multi-party elections in October 2008.
In September, the Maldives acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Resistance from conservative elements within the government and disruptive moves from the opposition threatened to derail political and judicial reforms.
Freedom of expression
Scores of government critics were accused of breaking the law while peacefully expressing their views or attending rallies.
• Member of Parliament Ahmed Shafeeq was briefly detained in April for attending a peaceful rally in Malé. He was reportedly severely beaten at the time of arrest and admitted to hospital. No investigation was carried out.
• More than 100 people were detained in advance of a planned anti-government protest scheduled for
10 November in Malé. The riot police also prevented people from leaving the islands for the demonstration. A boat full of opposition supporters was allegedly raided by the police and all passengers detained. Scores of detainees were held for weeks without charge, while at least 22 were released after being charged with apparently unsubstantiated, politically motivated criminal offences.
Intense pressure on the media to refrain from publishing articles critical of the government continued. Journalists ignoring this pressure were harassed, detained or charged with criminal offences.
• Aminath Najeeb, editor of the Minivan newspaper, received a summons in May to appear before the criminal court, apparently as part of the government's attempt to close Minivan. Before the summons, she was harassed by masked men circling her house.
• Mohamed Yooshau, Imran Zahir and Ibrahim Manik were detained for weeks at various times during the year. Abdulla Saeed (Fahala) was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment for carrying drugs which were believed to have been planted on him by the police after his arrest.
Unfair trials and prisoners of conscience
Courts continued to sentence political activists to terms of imprisonment.
• Ahmed Abbas, a political cartoonist, designer of Maldivian banknotes and prominent critic of the government, was sentenced in November to six months' imprisonment without knowing he was being tried. His conviction related to his remarks in a newspaper in August 2005. He only found out about his conviction by chance, when checking the government's website. Fearing ill-treatment, he sought sanctuary in the UN building in Malé but had to leave after government pressure. He was then detained by the police and transferred to the prison island of Maafushi. He was believed to be a prisoner of conscience.
• Several prisoners of conscience were released. Ahmed Ibrahim Didi and Naushad Waheed were released in February and Jennifer Latheef was released in August. Chairperson of the Maldivian Democratic Party, Mohamed Nasheed, was released in September.
Torture and other ill-treatment
Police tortured and otherwise ill-treated detainees arrested while taking part in peaceful demonstrations.
• Sixteen-year-old Moosa Afaau was reportedly grabbed around his neck by a plain-clothed officer in February while watching a street rally. He was reportedly dragged to the ground, his trousers were pulled down and he was hit with a baton on his thighs and genitals. He was then taken to a police station, tied to a chair and punched in the face every time he fell asleep. No one has been held accountable.
• Maldives: Renewed repressive measures against the opposition (AI Index: ASA 29/010/2006)