A senior UN official has told Maldives Foreign Minister Mohamed Asim about Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s concerns over the declaration of a state of emergency there by President Abdulla Yameen, according to a UN spokesperson. Miroslav Jenca, the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, spoke to Asim and directly relayed to him the concerns Guterres had expressed in his statement on the Maldives, Farhan Haq, the Secretary-General’s spokesperson, said here Thursday.
In the statement released on Tuesday, Guterres asked the Maldives government “to uphold the constitution and rule of law, lift the state of emergency as soon as possible, and take all measures to ensure the safety and security of the people in the country, including members of the judiciary.”
On Wednesday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein made a harsh criticism of Yameen. “President Yameen has, to put it bluntly, usurped the authority of the State’s rule-of-law institutions and its ability to work independently from the executive,” he said.
“I am seriously concerned that the measures taken appear to go beyond those permissible during a state of emergency, restricting the basic tenets of democracy and undermining respect for fundamental rights in the country,” he said.
Yameen clamped down the state of emergency on Monday after the Supreme Court overturned the terrorism conviction of former president Mohamed Nasheed, who lives in exile in Britain, as well as the convictions of eight other politicians on several charges. It also ordered the reinstatement of 12 suspended opposition members of parliament.
Two of the five Supreme Court judges were arrested by government forces and the other three overturned the court’s unanimous ruling ordering the release of the nine politicians. Guterres statement said he was seriously concerned about the entry of security forces into the Supreme Court.
The UN Mission of Kuwait, which is the president of the Security Council, had said that Jenca was expected to brief the Council during a closed briefing session on Thursday.
Kuwait’s Permanent Representative Mansour Al-Otaibi, who briefed reporters on the day’s Council proceedings would not confirm if the briefing had taken place.