Maldives says unable to implement ruling to free political prisoners

The Maldives has informed the country’s supreme court it is unable to implement a court order to free a group of political prisoners, including a former President.

The Minister of Legal Affairs at the President’s Office, Aishath Azima Shakoor told reporters on Monday that by the power granted to the President under Articles 115 (a) and (c) of the Maldives’ Constitution, President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has sent three letters to the Maldives’ Supreme Court, regarding the challenges being faced in implementing the Supreme Court’s order.

Azima Shakoor noted that despite the Attorney General and the Prosecutor General having shared their concerns with the Chief Justice earlier, regarding the challenges faced in implementing the supreme court ruling, the issue remains unresolved.

The President’s letters highlight that the supreme court order issued on 1 February 2018, has resulted in an encroachment on the regulatory powers of the State, the disruption of the functions mandated to State institutions under the Constitution, and the infringement of national security and public interest, and if implemented, which would potentially lead to an undermining of the supremacy of the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives.

The supreme court ordered the release of nine key political prisoners, including exiled former leader Mohamed Nasheed.

The failure to release the political prisoners has led to unrest in the capital with the opposition staging protests and demanding that the court ruling be fully implemented.

Several western countries have also called for the court order to be implemented while China has advised its nationals not to travel to the Maldives till the situation stabilizes.

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen won a controversial run-off Presidential vote against Nasheed in 2013.

Nasheed was later jailed in 2015 but he was granted leave from prison in 2016 for medical treatment in London.

Nasheed however secured political asylum in the UK and often visited Sri Lanka for meetings but never returned to the Maldives to face the remainder of his jail term.

Recently Nasheed announced he will contest the Presidential elections set to take place later this year. (Asia Pacific Daily)