South Asian groups welcome Maldives SC order to release political prisoners

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New Delhi, Feb 3 (IANS) The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and the South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN) have urged the Maldives government and its security forces to respect the ruling of the country’s Supreme Court for the release of all political prisoners and ensure its enforcement.

The two groups said the Supreme Court’s order for the fair re-trial of all the political prisoners is a landmark ruling. The government’s pressure on the court during trials of political prisoners violated the Maldives’ Constitution and international law, they said in a statement.

“We support the strengthening of human rights, democratic institutions, and respect for the rule of law in the Maldives. The latest ruling reaffirms the fundamentals of the separation of powers. We believe this is a step in the direction of bolstering democracy and good governance in the Maldives.”

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The statement was issued by Wajahat Habibullah, Chairperson, Executive Committee, CHRI, and Sanjoy Hazarika, International Director, CHRI, on behalf of the South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN).

The Maldives Supreme Court on Thursday night ordered immediate release of jailed politicians, including former President Mohammed Nasheed, and said the “questionable and politically motivated nature of the trials of the political leaders warrant a re-trial”.

India along with the UN, the US, Australia, Britain and Canada have welcomed the court’s decision as “a move towards restoring democracy in the politically troubled Indian Ocean nation”.

–IANS

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