in the Maldives
The destiny of human
rights is in the hands of each and every citizen
concerted action, there is no achievement of our basic rights
and fundamental freedoms. Acquaint yourself with the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and examine the standard it has
raised. Commit yourself to attain your inherent rights and to
respect those of others.
Silence does not
work. Individual commitment and dedication to uphold the truth
and its practice is the solution. Improve the practices
wherever opportunities arise for improvement. Each and every
effort you make is a vital contribution to uphold the rights
A nation where
each and every individual :
lives a life
free from fear and discrimination;
fundamental freedoms and human rights enshrined in the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other
international instruments; and
their identity and personality;
Gayyoom has claimed that the Maldives has achieved "full
democracy at its highest level". Making such a claim of
achievement undermines the importance of working for the
promotion of democracy and it is also a clear statement of
complacency with stagnation.
The economic and
social development achieved under his presidency can never
over-ride the importance of working for democracy and human
rights, which still is a dream. A most important dream but,
yet, so far away.
Today, we find
the rights of the people being systematically violated and
those who raise their voices behind bars. Civil rights are
non-existent. The chasm between the autocratic style of rule
and democracy is still wide and needs to be bridged.
election for the Citizens’ Majlis (parliament) is over, the
electorate is forgotten. Their views are constricted and
hence, do not reach any of the decision-makers.
allows establishment of associations and organisations.
However, political parties, trade unions and such
association of people are prohibited. The state
refuses to recognise these basic Constitutional rights of the
people and thereby, has created a huge deficit in democracy.
Respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights form the
foundation of democracy. This foundation is non-existent.
The condition of
democracy is that people are able to make choices about a wide
variety of issues that affect their lives. There is a short
distance between the government censorship of press or a book
to the silencing of political dissidents. And the distance
between such silencing and the use of violence to suppress a
growing political philosophy, which a government finds
inconvenient, is even shorter.
experience today cannot be regarded as democracy as long as
critics are criminalised, fundamental freedoms and human
rights are violated. Democracy, development and respect for
human rights are interdependent and mutually reinforcing.
expression of human rights is guaranteed at the political
level, we cannot claim to have attained full democracy. It is
up to each individual to uphold democracy in every aspect of
white sandy beaches, palm trees, clear blue sea with colourful
corals and myriad types of fishes ... the paradise on earth!
This is the general perception of many people about the
Maldives. What lies beyond this façade have been carefully
hidden away. The violation of human rights and the oppression
of the citizens! This site is a small effort to uncover this
hideous state of affairs and to achieve basic human rights for
the citizens of Maldives.
has continued to politically repress its people in the name of
Islam. Human Rights are caste aside and the greed for power is
at the helm of politics. Human rights and fundamental freedoms
are considered a western norm and its universality denounced.
The status of
human rights and fundamental freedom in the Maldives is not
even a side-track but a complete derailment. Human Rights and
fundamental freedoms are a birthright and hence the first
responsibility of the Government to protect and promote. The
lack of development, religion, culture or tradition should
not, and cannot, be involved to justify the abridgement of
internationally recognised Human Rights.
As we play a
rather insignificant role in the international politics, the
state continues to contemptuously ignore and seriously violate
the rights of its citizens without attracting much attention.
It is the people
who need to realise that complacency with the situation as the
greatest enemy. It is for the people to openly express their
commitment and fight for democracy and respect for human
rights against the relentless oppression by the state. A fight
for the basic rights and freedoms enshrined in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.
government of President Gayyoom has been in power for 20
years and still democracy is non-existent. Political
opponents are imprisoned under various guises, freedom
of the press is curbed and basic rights of the citizens
are seriously violated. Political parties are
Does it protect the rights of
the people ?
passed amended Constitution lags far behind in promoting and
protecting the rights of the people.
After 17 years
of deliberations the Citizens’ Majlis (parliament) has weaved
a blindfold for the people in the name of guaranteeing their
fundamental freedoms and basic rights. It is easy to adopt
laws that discriminate and violate the rights of the people.
However, our politicians need to realise that this is not what
they have been elected to do.
representatives are elected in the hope that they are wise
enough to adopt and implement rules and regulations to uphold
our basic rights and freedoms. Non-discriminatory laws based
on the equality of each and every citizen.
rights and the government does not. The government acts by
permission according to a written constitution that should
limit public officials to defined functions and procedures.
Today, we have a Constitution that violates the rights of the
citizens and exploit them. The citizens should be able to
endorse the Constitution before it is implemented.
can only be acceptable if it is open and accommodates the
realities of the modern day. Extensive constitutional reforms
are necessary to ensure that democracy, respect for
fundamental freedoms and human rights prevail.
It is the
responsibility of our leaders to nurture a society that
conforms to the requirements of each and every individual.
Apparently they have shirked off their responsibilities and
duties and it is their personal views and believes that are at
opinion and expression
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and
expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions
without interference and to seek, receive and impart
information and ideas through media regardless of
The right to
exercise the freedom of thought and expression is an important
basic right of every human being. It is crucial that this
right be respected in every field of life and defended
wherever circumstances arise. It is disappointing to note that
those committed to defending this freedom have to work at the
cost of humiliation, persecution and, even, their own lives.
The violation of
this freedom in the Maldives is nothing new to any Maldivian.
It exists socially and at political level. Political
oppression forms the base in all other spheres, be it in the
family or the society at large.
The main tool of
our politicians is the Islamic religion. Having the
Constitution based on the Shariath limits the many fundamental
freedoms and rights. It is imperative to set the religion
aside from politics and establish a secular state. No
political system, that bases its policies on any religion, can
guarantee full respect for fundamental freedoms and basic
human rights of its citizens.
Only will the
separation of religion from the Constitution ensure that every
individual lives a life, free from fear or discrimination, in
a country where all fundamental freedoms and human rights are
Our right to
think and act on the guidance of our thinking is deprived from
us. It is the very aspect that makes us human beings. The
conceptual level of man’s conscious is disregarded. Government
interference and control are deadly cracks in the development
witness this violation in various forms. Books are banned
(even if not religious), freedom of belief/religion is
prohibited, the press is gagged, the people’s right to privacy
are non-existent and so on. Man’s capacity to think and
rationalise is dreaded by those greedy for power.
In the absence
of freedom of expression, which includes a free and
independent media, it is impossible to protect other rights,
including the right to life. Once governments are able to draw
a cloak of secrecy over their actions and to remain
unaccountable for their actions then massive human rights
violations can, and do, take place. For this reason alone the
right to freedom of expression, specifically protected in the
major international human rights treaties, must be considered
to be a primary right. One of the significant first
indications of a government’s intention to depart from
democratic principles is the ever-increasing control of
information by means of gagging the media and preventing the
free flow of information. Censorship tends to have small
beginnings and grow rapidly. Allowing a government to have the
power to deny information, however trivial, not only sets in
place laws and procedures that can, and will be, used by those
in authority against those with less authority but it also
denies people the information which they must have in order to
monitor their government’s actions and to ensure
the first instrument of a government intent on departing from
democratic procedures. It is the early warning signal that
alerts the people. Such signals should not be ignored as it is
the ultimate tool that destroys democracy.
expression is the great test of the real integrity and
trustworthiness of politicians. The lack of this freedom in
the Maldivian State is proof of abuse of power, corruption and
tries to impose restrictions on free speech with arguments in
defence of national and/or state security, the public
interest, including the need to protect public morals and
public order. The mechanisms employed by the government to
restrict the free flow of information are almost endless. It
ranges from subtle economic pressures and devious methods of
undermining political opponents and the independent media to
the enactment of restrictive press laws and detention of
journalists and others associated with the expression of
independent views. It is the principle of mob rule that
welfare and progress depends on the freedom of its citizens!
Incalculable potential of human ability and integrity are
vital values to every society.
The right to
freedom of expression is protected in the major international
treaties including the United Nations Universal Declaration of
Human Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights.
Islam and human rights
Islamic Reform to achieve
Human Rights as
reflected in international instruments are in direct conflict
with Islam. This is the consequence of Islamic Jurists
formulating the principles of Shariath, in terms of moral
duties of individuals, which have religious sanctions.
Considering that Shariath was first interpreted and applied
centuries ago makes it incompatible with contemporary Muslims.
Therefore, it is illogical that modern day constitutions be
based on Shariath or be practised at all in this respect.
interpretation, any difference in thought is considered
impermissible and reprehensible. It leads to less democracy,
violation of human rights, international law and corruption of
the state. The Islamic states of the present day functions
under this interpretation. Their goal is to combat human
dignity and human values.
Islam is a
religion only for individuals and not for their leaders or the
corporate entities of society or the state. Once it is adopted
in such a manner, shall we find peace, democracy and
prosperity in its truest forms.
difficulties faced by Islamic nations is the result of
adopting Islam as it was preached for the people of
yester-centuries. Certain texts have been explained while the
other de-emphasised according to the times. We should not
confine ourselves to this historical interpretation of
Shariath but broaden our perspectives. Such interpretations
should be shed and a modern concept adopted.
A belief from
the past has no credibility to be dictated against the reality
of the present day. Common sense and logic evades every single
individual rights is directly linked to a state adopting a
religion. Government is a social creation for self-defence
only and not to coerce people into a belief or religion that
the leaders have. Any government should be an impersonal
entity with objective laws. If believes or religions are
incorporated in the government system then it is no longer
impartial or objective. It becomes a government of men and not
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights article 18 sets
forth the principle that everyone has the right to freedom of
thought, conscience and religion. And it clearly states that
such a right includes freedom to change his religion or belief
and freedom either alone or in community with others, and in
public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in
teaching, practise, worship and observance.
government were to initiate force against innocent citizens
then such a government is a criminal and not a protector. This
is the situation in many countries where the state adopts a
religion. This also centralises the power in the state at the
expense of the individual freedoms and these systems insist on
allowing its subjects to move with a leash.
state should not intervene in the intellectual or moral life
of its citizens. The right to think and act includes the
right to choose and it includes the right to choose
incorrectly and then to suffer consequences. Any
individual free to choose what the government authorises has
no freedom. A government exercising such powers does not have
any moral basis for existence.
Islam, as any
other religion, preaches tolerance and understanding. In no
manner does it ask its believers to force it on any
individual. However, all Maldivians are prohibited to change
their religion or to practise any other belief. This is a
fundamental freedom of human beings. The state works to attain
thought control over the people. The individual citizens' own
thoughts are considered wrong and forced to think as those who
are in power. Islam clearly states that it should not be
forced upon the people but it should be embraced at free will.
Hence, what the Maldivian state does in the name of Islam is
in stark contrast to the very belief that they claim to
on the grounds of belief constitutes an affront to human
dignity. Intolerance and violence based on religion or belief
needs to be countered by the state. If such acts are being
committed by the state, who do we expect to protect our rights
The demand for
the right to enforce ideas at the point of gun, i.e. through
the power of the government, and to compel the submission of
others to the believes, views and wishes of those who control
the government machinery is barbaric. This barbarism is what
we experience today. It exists at all levels.
To some people
it is rational to go through life in a state of unfocused
stupor merely saying yes to everything being handed down. The
assumption of responsibility of cognition and the use of their
rational faculties to make life more oriented to their own
needs appear to be a horrendous idea. Not only do they apply
this to themselves but work towards enforcing it on others.
This is particularly so with the religious fanatics.
state should heed the call of the 1981 UN Declaration on the
Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance Based on Religion or
Belief. It should transmogrify itself into a more
people-oriented state ensuring that its policies are always
for the benefit and development of its people. Guaranteeing
religious freedom and its manifestation is the duty of the
If we are to
discriminate people with different believes, how could we ever
expect not to be discriminated against by others? We strongly
argue to eradicate discrimination against people of different
races, ethnic origins etc. Yet, when it comes to be
discrimination at home, we blindly turn our back and ignore
the issue. Obviously and undeniably it goes both ways. First
we must learn to respect differences and then expect respect
to our differences.
Commission on Human Rights urges all states to ensure that
their "Constitution and legal systems provide adequate and
effective guarantees of freedom of thought, conscience,
religion and belief to all without discrimination, including
the provision of effective remedies in cases where the right
of freedom of religion or belief is violated".
It is important
to note that the newly adopted constitution disregards the
freedom of belief and freedom of opinion or expression. The
State’s clout on the people derives its power from Islamic
religion. Religion is turned to political ends. The religion
and the state get to be manipulated by each other. A state
adopting a religion has grave consequences on religious
freedom as the state is subordinate to it and is subsumed by
reason for states to enshrine religion in its structure is to
have religion at its service and the believers in control.
Control implies power, for the state to remain unaccountable
for its actions. In such a type of governance the sway of
religion can only extend as far as the state wishes to. This
also paves way for extremist religious movements to seize the
state as a means of salvation.
In order to
consolidate the state’s power, it enforces, through the law,
the Islamic religion on its people and prohibits change of
belief. Religious intolerance is not only nurtured by the
state but practised and promoted.
tendencies and behaviour based on religion or belief in
traditional aspects and culture needs to be tackled by the
society and the state. This sort of discrimination is only
nurtured in the human mind.
the prime means of combating discrimination should be steered
towards achieving it. Islam, a compulsory subject in school,
should be made optional and its discriminatory aspects should
be legally prohibited from being taught.
general respect for all human rights can only truly be
protected where the state is not influenced by religion. No
religious society has ever protected or promoted individual
Haveeru Daily paper, 11 Feb 98. 6 Maldivians were
arrested in 1997 for eating during the month of Ramazan.
These six people were eating in their houses behind
locked doors. Following this, during an interview Lt
Mohamed Sodiq requested the public to inform the police
if they come to know of any person eating during the
month of fasting.
to him, this was in view of protecting Maldivians from
committing such an act of "sin".
clearly evident from this that the police are directly
involved in enforcing the people to follow the Islamic
religion. There is no freedom to choose or manifest a
belief or religion of choice.
SAARC & Human Rights
The international trend of conditioning bilateral or
multilateral assistance or trade advantages on the recipient
or trading state’s compliance with basic human rights has
stirred the murky waters.
of the 9th SAARC Summit which was held in the
Maldives stated that such protectionist barriers was a concern
for the Heads of State or Government of SAARC countries. It
also stated their resolve to take all necessary steps to
achieve the objective of human rights and reiterated their
commitment to promotion and protection of human rights.
defensive approach, instead of an active approach, of these
states is a clear manifestation of their repressive regimes
and not of the ideals of the communities of these states. What
has been done to promote or protect their people from the
society at large or the state ?
What are the
justifications being laid out by such states for trampling on
universal human rights. Asian states have continued to argue
that human rights are not universal and that it is a western
notion. Contemporary arguments strive for the cachet of
cultural relativism, merely a defence against outside
interference. Is it an interference or a legitimate interstate
This brings us
to contemplate if economic and social welfare is to be given
priority to human rights or if it goes parallel to each other.
True economic and social welfare is to be found where human
rights are fully respected and adhered to.
The Asian state
is an imposition on the community. It relies on coercion of
and sanctions on its people. There is a grave need for
humanisation and democratisation. Much of the deplorable
activities of such states are filtered through the state
system and diplomatic channels before reaching the
leaders, do not represent their people, when they make
pronouncements on human rights. It is neither to be supposed
that their views are based on perspectives which emerge from
culture, religion or the Asian realities.
has the international movement of safeguarding and promoting
human rights begun. Much needs to be attained in this regard.
Most violations are frequently and conveniently ignored. Only
gross violation acts such as mass massacres are acknowledge
but, even then, the usual reaction is simply a polite
diplomatic regret. It is apparent that if violations of human
rights are to be ignored then it is the gravest conflagration
Be not silent,
for it is the voice of complicity.
adhere to human being by virtue of being human and for no
Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights sets
forth the rights and freedoms of each and every person on the
face of the earth. These rights are your rights. Learn them.
Promote them. Defend them.
recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and
inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the
foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in
barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind,
and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy
freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want
has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common
it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have
recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and
oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule
it is essential to promote the development of friendly
relations between nations,
the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter
reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the
dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights
of men and women and have determined to promote social
progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in
co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of
universal respect for and observance of human rights and
a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the
greatest importance for the full realisation of this pledge,
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
As a common
standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to
the end that every individual and every organ of society,
keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by
teaching and education to promote respect for these rights
and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and
international, to secure their universal and effective
recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member
States themselves and among the peoples of territories under
beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act
towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this
Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race,
colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion,
national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political,
jurisdictional or international status of the country or
territory to which a person belongs, whether it be
independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other
limitation of sovereignty.
the right to life, liberty and security of person.
No one shall
be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade
shall be prohibited in all their forms.
No one shall
be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment.
the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the
All are equal
before the law and are entitled without any discrimination
to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal
protection against any discrimination in violation of this
Declaration and against any incitement to such
the right to an effective remedy by the competent national
tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted
him by the constitution or by law.
No one shall
be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an
independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of
his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge
charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed
innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public
trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for
No one shall
be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or
omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under
national or international law, at the time it was committed.
Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was
applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.
No one shall
be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy,
family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his
honour or reputation. Everyone has the right to the
protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
the right to freedom of movement and residence within the
borders of each state.
the right to leave any country, including his own, and to
return to his country.
the right to seek and to enjoy, in other countries, asylum
This right may
not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising
from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the
purposes and principles of the United Nations.
the right to a nationality.
No one shall
be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the
right to change his nationality.
Men and women
of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality
or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family.
They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during
marriage and at its dissolution.
be entered into only with the free and full consent of the
The family is
the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is
entitled to protection by society and the State.
the right to own property alone as well as in association
No one shall
be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion;
this right includes the freedom to change his religion or
belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with
others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or
belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right
includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and
to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through
media regardless of frontiers.
the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
No one may be
compelled to belong to an association.
the right to take part in the government of his country,
directly or through freely chosen representative.
the right to equal access to public service in his country.
The will of
the people shall be the basis of the authority of
government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and
genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal
suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent
free voting procedures.
Everyone, as a
member of society, has the right to social security and is
entitled to realisation, through national effort and
international co-operation and in accordance with the
organisation and resources of each State, of the economic,
social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and
the free development of his personality.
the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and
favourable conditions of work and to protection against
without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for
works has the right to just and favourable remuneration
ensuring for himself and his family in existence worthy of
human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other
means of social protection.
the right to form and to join trade unions for the
protection of his interests.
the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable
limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
the right to a standard of living adequate for the health
and well-being of himself and his family, including food,
clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social
services, and the right to security in the event of
unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or
other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his
childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All
children whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the
same social protection.
the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in
the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education
shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education
shall be made general available and higher education shall
be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
shall be directed to the full development of the human
personality and to the strengthening of respect for human
rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote
understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations,
racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities
of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
Parents have a
prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be
given to their children.
the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the
community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific
advancement and its benefits.
the right to the protection of the moral and material
interests resulting from any scientific, literary or
artistic production of which he is the author.
entitled to a social and international order in which the
rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be
the duties to the community in which alone the free and full
development of his personality is possible.
exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be
subject only to such limitations as are determined by law
solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and
respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting
the just requirements of morality, public order and the
general welfare in a democratic society.
and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the
purpose and principles of the United Nations.
this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any
State, group or person any right engage in any activity or
to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the
rights and freedoms set forth herein.
G.A. res. 217A
(III), U.N. Doc A/810 at 71 (1948)
Adopted at 3:00 am, December 10, 1948
By the General Assembly of the United Nations (without