• Sheet of paper Report

Annual Report: Maldives 2011

July 7, 2011

Head of state and government: Mohamed Nasheed
Death penalty: abolitionist in practice
Population: 0.3 million
Life expectancy: 72.3 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 31/26 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 98.4 per cent

The political divide between the President and the opposition-dominated parliament reached crisis proportions in June, and at least four members of parliament were detained in July. After intense negotiations, parliament approved the establishment of a permanent Supreme Court in August. The International Commission of Jurists visited the Maldives in September to assess how the judicial system should be reformed.


The government claimed that the opposition was using their majority in parliament to block government efforts to improve public services. The opposition said they were exercising their parliamentary rights, as set out in the Constitution, to ensure government accountability. In June, cabinet ministers resigned over the stalemate but were later reinstated. The President reinstated the 12 ministers, but Parliament did not approve seven of them, including the Foreign Minister and leading human rights defender Dr Ahmed Shaheed.

Unresolved differences between the government and its opposition sparked protests. Clashes occurred between supporters of the governing and opposition parties in mid-July. About a dozen people were injured on all sides, including several police personnel. In late July, all sides accepted offers of help from international bodies, including a visiting US State Department official, to facilitate dialogue. Street violence subsided in August, when all parties in parliament agreed to set up the Maldives’ permanent Supreme Court, which had been functioning on an interim basis since 2008.

During the UN Universal Periodic Review of the Maldives in November, more than 10 states called on the government to take measures to ensure equality between men and women.

Rising sea levels continued to threaten the future of the archipelago.

Arbitrary arrests and detentions

At least four members of parliament (MPs) were detained in July for up to nine days. Three were opposition MPs. They claimed the government had detained them to force them to comply with its political agenda.

  • Opposition MP Abdullah Yameen was detained by the Maldives National Defence Force on 15 July. The authorities failed to respect a court order to produce him before a judge, or charge him with a recognizable criminal offence. Instead, they said he had been detained to protect him against threats from political mobs. Abdullah Yameen said the crowd of people who attacked his home on 14 July were government activists. He was released on 23 July.

Justice system

Fundamental flaws in the criminal justice system continued to lead to unfair trials. There is no unified definition of a criminal offence in Maldivian law, and many judges have no formal legal training. Under a partnership programme with the government, the International Commission of Jurists visited the Maldives in September. They noted that: “Reform measures still pending include the Judicature Bill, the Penal Code, a Criminal Procedure Code, and the Evidence Bill.”