The Maldives yesterday rejected a demand by a UN human rights watchdog that former president Mohamed Nasheed be allowed to stand for office, including in a presidential election later this year.
The UN Human Rights Committee, a panel of independent experts overseeing states' compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, said Nasheed's conviction on terrorism charges was based on vague laws, contained serious flaws and violated his right to a fair trial.
"Political rights can be suspended or restricted only in exceptional circumstances and under certain conditions. And judicial proceedings that violate the right to fair trial can render the resulting restriction of political rights arbitrary,” committee member Sarah Cleveland said in a statement.
Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail but went into exile during a medical trip to Britain. He was disqualified from running in presidential elections for 16 years.
The committee said it wanted information from the Maldives within 180 days about measures taken to take its views into account, and said those measures should be disseminated broadly in the official languages of the Maldives.
But the government swiftly rejected the Committee's report.
"The Government of the Maldives... wholeheartedly refutes that any of these rights have been violated in the case of the former President Nasheed. The Government accepts the conviction of Nasheed as lawful and final," it said in a statement.