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On Maldives State of Emergency, US Reiterates, UN Silent, Re-Praising

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 6 -- With a state of emergency declared in the Maldives, Inner City Press on November 4 asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric if the UN had any comment -- really, if the UN is doing anything at all. Dujarric responded to Inner City Press with an if-asked statement, below.

 The UN has said nothing since. Others have pointed out that "the whole democracy project was derailed by ex-UN official Mohamed Waheed who staged a coup in Feb 2012" -- not the first, or last, connection between the UN, its staff and coups d'etat.

 Meanwhile, the head of the UN Development Program on November 6 re-tweeted praise of the Maldives, here (as UNDP has refused for a week to provide a copy of a document its Teresa Liu signed with now indicted David Ng Lap Seng and Dominica's Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, click here for that.)

 On November 4, the US State Department issued this clearer statement, here.

 At the State Department's November 6 briefing, this was asked:

QUESTION: Maldives – day before yesterday you issued – it’s quite a strong statement on the imposition of emergency in the Maldives.  That hasn’t been lifted, there’s more people who have been arrested.  What do you have to say about the situation there?

SPOKESPERSON:  I would just say what I said in a statement earlier, that we are deeply concerned with recent events there in the Maldives, including the announcement of a state of emergency that curtails the vital civil liberties, human rights, and fundamental freedoms.  We’re concerned by reports of continued politically motivated arrests and call on the Government of Maldives to afford all its citizens due process.  We again urge the government there to take steps to restore confidence in its democracy and judicial independence.

QUESTION:  But they haven’t done – taken any of these steps.

SPOKESPERSON:  Is that a question?

QUESTION:  Yeah, so what do you have to say?  They haven’t --

SPOKESPERSON:  I would simply restate what we said before.  I mean, we’ve made our position very, very.. The – we’ve – we continue to make our case and will continue to do so.  I mean, I think where we’ve been on this issue has been very, very clear and very consistently so.  That’s not going to change.

 Here's was the UN's, which may now post-US, and two days and counting later, be supplemented:

“The Secretary-General is concerned about the recent political and security developments in Maldives. States have legitimate national security concerns, but the Secretary-General emphasizes that states of emergency should be used only when strictly necessary, in proportion to the stated threat and in accordance with the human rights obligations. In this regard, he hopes that all civil and political rights of the Maldivian people will be restored as soon as possible.”

Back on March 27, 2015 Inner City Press went to the US State Department's daily briefing and asked spokesman Jeff Rathke about the conviction of the country's former defense minister Nazim, and threats to deport migrant workers if they protest, amid attacks on free press.

  From the State Department's transcript:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about in Maldives the former defense minister has just been sentenced to 11 years. And I know the State Department has expressed some concern about former President Nasheed’s trial. There’s also a situation in which migrant workers there are being told if they demonstrate about their rights they’ll be deported. So I’m wondering, is the State Department monitoring this? Do you have any comment on developments in the Maldives?

MR. RATHKE: Certainly, we are. I don’t have a comment in front of me. We’re happy to look into that and come back to you.

   While this is often said at the UN - and this week in Washington at the IMF on Inner City Press' question about Haiti -- in this case the US State Department DID come back with a comment, issued as a “Question Taken” later on March 27:

For Immediate Release  TAKEN QUESTION March 27, 2015

Concerns on Recent Developments in Maldives

Question:  Does the United States have any comment on the arrest of the former Maldivian Defense Minister?

Answer:  The United States is deeply troubled by recent developments in Maldives that call into question that nation’s commitment to democracy and individual human rights.  These developments include the conviction of former Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison on weapons charges March 26, and the March 25 arrest of Maldivian journalists under allegations of obstructing police duties.

Nazim’s trial was particularly concerning, as it was marred by the same apparent lack of appropriate criminal procedures as the recent trial of former President Mohamed Nasheed, including the inability to call the requested number of defense witnesses and concerns regarding the lack of impartiality and independence of the judges.

Freedom of the press is a fundamental democratic right, and we are in touch with Maldivian authorities to clarify why the journalists have been detained without charges.

We call on the Government of Maldives to take steps to restore confidence in its hard-fought democracy and the rule of law, including judicial independence and freedom of the press.

  We'll have more on this -- including, from the new Free UN Coalition for Access, on the situation of the press in the Malvides. Watch this site.


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