The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) has released its ‘Trial Observation Report – Prosecution of Mohamed Rasheed, Former President of the Republic of the Maldives’ reporting on the criminal prosecution of the former head of State.
Mr Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment on 13 March 2015, having been convicted on charges of terrorism in relation to the arrest and detention, during his presidency, of the Chief Justice of the Maldivian Criminal Court, Judge Abdulla Mohamed. Serious concerns have been raised about the political motivation for the arrest and prosecution of the former President.
The report documents the findings of BHRC’s third legal observation mission to the Maldives, conducted by BHRC’s Vice Chair, Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh, between 26 February and 6 March 2015. Based on Ms Ní Ghrálaigh’s observations of the trial proceedings, subsequent interviews and publicly available accounts of the trial, the BHRC concludes that Mr Nasheed’s right to a fair trial, as guaranteed under international law, has been breached in the following ways:
- there was a clear appearance of bias on behalf of two of the three judges, such as to vitiate the fairness of the entire proceedings
- he was deprived of the time and facilities to prepare his defence adequately as a self-representing Defendant
- his right to be legally represented was effectively denied at the arraignment hearing
- the right to a public hearing was not adequately guaranteed
Serious concerns also arise regarding the overall speed at which the terrorism trial before the Criminal Court took place, the limited time given to Mr Nasheed’s Defence team to prepare for trial and the refusal by the Court to permit Defence witnesses to be called.
On the basis of those conclusions, the BHRC is of the view that Mr Nasheed’s conviction cannot properly be regarded as safe.
BHRC calls on the Maldives to ensure that Mr Nasheed is guaranteed the effective right to appeal his conviction and sentence and that he is afforded all fair trial and due process rights, as guaranteed under international law and the Maldivian Constitution, in any such appeal process and/or resulting retrial.
Further, the BHRC echoes the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s “deep[…] concern[…] about the state of the judiciary in the Maldives” and joins its call for “more serious training” and “radical readjustment” of the judicial system in order “to guarantee just trials, and fair judgments for the people of the Maldives.”