In the country’s first multi-party elections, the opposition won the majority of parliamentary seats. Parliament’s failure to enact the draft penal code hampered progress towards ensuring justice. At least 180 people, mostly women, were at risk of being flogged. Rising global sea levels continued to threaten the country.
The former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Dhivehi Rayyithunge (Maldivian People’s Party) won the majority of seats in the May parliamentary elections. The ensuing political impasse between President Mohamed Nasheed and the opposition-dominated parliament impeded government-proposed reforms. The government continued to call for urgent measures to address global warming in the face of rising sea levels and temperatures. In a meeting with Amnesty International in April, the President reiterated his commitment to protecting human rights and the rule of law.
Torture and other ill-treatment
At least 180 people, mostly women, were at risk of being flogged. The courts had imposed this punishment in recent years for having extramarital sex. The government did not publicly endorse national and international calls for a moratorium on flogging after the last known instance in July, but there were no further floggings by year’s end.
- An 18-year-old woman received 100 lashes on 5 July after being accused of having sex with two men outside marriage. Local journalists reported the woman fainted after being flogged and was taken to hospital for treatment. The woman, who was pregnant at the time of sentencing, had her punishment deferred until after the birth of her child. The court ruled the woman’s pregnancy was proof of her guilt. The men involved in the case were acquitted.
Parliament failed to enact at least three new bills designed to strengthen human rights protections in the country. These were a bill to make defamation a civil rather than criminal offence, a press freedom bill, and a right to freedom of expression bill.
As in previous years, parliament failed to enact the penal code bill, which aims to remove some of the fundamental flaws in the current criminal justice system, such as the lack of a unified definition of a criminal offence.
There was no move to bring perpetrators of past human rights violations to justice. However, attempts from opposition members of parliament to enact a law providing immunity from prosecution to the former president failed when the Speaker of Parliament declared the move unconstitutional.
Right to adequate housing
After a visit to the Maldives in February, the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing said that climate change “jeopardizes the survival of the nation, but more immediately, it jeopardizes the right to housing due to the scarcity of land”. The country remained at risk of rising sea levels and coastal erosion.
Amnesty International report
- Maldives: Over one hundred people at risk of being flogged, 21 Jul 2009