Lawyers: We will pursue sanctions against Maldives

AP News
Posted: Sep 10, 2015 2:47 PM
Lawyers: We will pursue sanctions against Maldives

MALE, Maldives (AP) — A team of human rights lawyers said Thursday they will seek international sanctions and travel bans against the Maldives as part of its efforts to secure the release of the country's jailed former president.

Lawyer Amal Clooney told reporters that they were taking the actions because the government had not fulfilled many of its promises to ex-President Mohamed Nasheed.

"The next step will be to pursue targeted sanctions, travel bans and any other action we have recourse to until the matter is resolved," she said. "It is disappointing it has come to this."

The Maldives, an Indian Ocean archipelago, is a high-end tourist destination.

Government minister Mohamed Shareef said he did not wish to comment because Clooney's remarks were mostly political rather than legal. He said the government had confidence in the judiciary.

Nasheed is serving a 13-year sentence after a court found him guilty of terrorism for ordering the arrest of a senior judge when he was president three years ago. The court said the arrest was akin to abduction and is an offense under the country's terrorism law.

Clooney said the government had agreed in talks with Nasheed's party members to release him and others arrested during protests that followed his jailing.

She said it not only reneged on its promise but also sent Nasheed back to jail after saying it had commuted his sentence to house arrest.

"These are not steps that are taken by a government that is operating on the basis of rule of law," she told reporters in Male, the capital.

Clooney said her discussions on Wednesday with the country's attorney general also covered the possibility of Nasheed being released under a presidential pardon.

Her colleague Jared Genser meanwhile accused the government of spying on the discussions between them and Nasheed at the prison on Wednesday and Thursday.

He said within a short time from Thursday's talks a caller had mentioned to Nasheed's wife certain details discussed privately in the prison.

Also on Thursday, the country's High Court decided not to hear an appeal filed by the state on Nasheed's conviction after he complained that his trial was flawed.

The judges said the state had no authority to appeal for a convict but Nasheed is free to file his own appeal.

Nasheed became the country's first democratically elected president in 2008. His election ended 30 years of autocratic rule by the half-brother of the current president, Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

Nasheed was forced to resign after the arrest of the judge sparked public protests. He failed in an attempt to return to power in a 2013 presidential election.