Lease Agreement in Dhivehi by qjh80494

VIEWS: 301 PAGES: 15

More Info
									                                                MALDIVES
   Re- ACCREDITATION OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF THE MALDIVES TO THE
    INTERNATIONAL COORDINATING COMMITTEE OF NATIONAL INSTITUTIONS FOR THE
                        PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
                                              - March 2010 -



I. BACKGROUND

The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (hereinafter HRCM or the Commission) submitted its
first application for accreditation to the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for
the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (ICC) in 2008, when it was accredited with “B” status.
At that time the ICC made the following recommendations:

The Sub-Committee notes that the founding legal documents of the Human Rights Commission of the
Maldives provide that all members of the Commission must be Muslim. The Sub-Committee
recommends that this requirement be removed in order for the Commission to be considered to be
compliant with the Paris Principles.

    The Sub-Committee notes that in practice the Commission has been generally effective in fulfilling
    its mandate to promote and protect human rights.

    The Sub-Committee also notes the following:
    1) It refers to General Observation “Human Rights mandate”, in particular to expand the mandate
       of the Commission to cover all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
    2) It also refers to General Observations “Selection and appointment of the governing body” and
       “Guarantee of tenure for members of governing bodies”, in particular the need to ensure a
       substantiated and transparent dismissal procedure in the founding legal documents.
    3) The Sub-Committee encourages the Commission to interact effectively with the United
       Nations Human Rights system, in line with General Observation “Interaction with the
       International Human Rights System”.
    4) The Commission lacks sufficient office space which limits its ability to hire staff to fill the
       existing high vacancy.

Following the ICC decision at its April 2008 annual meeting that all National Human Rights Institutions
(NHRIs) with B status would be reviewed to ensure their compliance with the Paris Principles and their
effectiveness, the HRCM was therefore scheduled for a reaccreditation review in March 2010.

On 8 November 2009, the formal application for "A" status accreditation was received

The following sections provide background information on the HRCM based on supporting
documentation submitted by the HRCM to the National Institutions and Regional Mechanisms Section
(OHCHR) in its capacity of the Secretariat of the ICC, in accordance with Article 10 of the ICC Statute
and Rules 3.3 and 3.4 of the Rules of Procedures for the ICC Sub-Committee on Accreditation.

II. DOCUMENTATION PROVIDED IN SUPPORT OF THE APPLICATION

To permit the ICC to make a determination as to the compliance of the HRCM with the Paris Principles,
the following documentation has been submitted by the HRC in support of its application:

        Human Rights Commission Act 2006 (Law Number 6/2006) establishing the HRCM
        Outline of the organizational structure of the HRCM
        Executive Summary of the 2008 Annual Report of the HRCM
        Statement of Compliance with the Paris Principles of the HRCM
        (Budget summaries 2005-2009


                                 Human Rights Commission of the Maldives                                  1
                                                March 2010
Additional documentation received by the ICC Secretariat include: (original titles):

        Case Report 1 Mohamed Ali
        Case Report Abdulla Shareef (in hard copy only)
        Education and media report
        Minutes of 58th meeting of the HRCM
        Translation of the letter sent on 16th September 2004 to the President‟s Office regarding the
         ratification of the ICCPR and ICESCR
        Summary of the work carried in 2007 by the education and media department
        Lease agreement for renting the premises
        Document “The “rights” side of life. A baseline human rights survey” (in hard copy only)
        Promotional pamphlet on the HRCM

III. CHARACTER OF THE NHRI

1. Establishment

The HRCM was initially established by Presidential Decree on 10 December 2003 as an independent
and autonomous statutory body. The HRC functioned under regulations promulgated under powers
vested with the President of the Republic of Maldives in Section 42(e) of the Constitution of the
Republic of Maldives (to determine the powers, duties and responsibilities of the HRCM).

On 18 August 2005, the present Human Rights Commission Act was ratified, which was amended in
2006 and passed as Law No.1/2006 (hereinafter referred to as “the Act”) by the People‟s Majlis
(ratified by the President on 17 August 2006).

The HRCM has jurisdiction throughout the Maldives. Section 33 of the HRCM Act limits the HRCM‟s
jurisdiction as follows:
          The HRCM may investigate events that occurred before the enactment of the Act only if the
           event occurred after 1st January 2000,
          For complaints filed regarding events which occurred after the enactment of the Act, the time
           period between the events complained of and filing of the complaint should not exceed one
           year as per the Gregorian calendar.

2. Independence

Organizational independence

Sections 3, 15, 17, 27 and 28 of the Act contain safeguards for the independence of the HRCM as
follows:

    Section 3
    The Commission is an independent legal entity with a separate seal, possessing power to sue and
    suit against and to make undertakings in its own capacity.

    Section 17
    (a) The People‟s Majlis shall determine the remuneration and other financial benefits offered to the
    President, Vice- President and members of the Commission.
    (b) Remuneration and other financial benefits offered to the President, Vice- President or
    Members of the Commission shall not be reduced during their tenures.
    (c) The Commission shall determine the remuneration and other financial benefit

    Section 27a
    No criminal or civil suit shall be filed against the President or Vice- President or a member of the
    Commission in relation to committing or omitting an act in good faith whilst undertaking
    responsibilities of the commission or exercising the powers of the Commission or the powers
    conferred to the Commission by a law.



                                 Human Rights Commission of the Maldives                              2
                                                March 2010
    Section 28
    A member shall not involve to any extent, in a matter concerning their self-interest, personal
    involvement, or financial or any other personal gain, when such a matter is being investigated or
    the outcome of the matter is being decided by the Commission. Furthermore, although a member
    does not possess prior knowledge of such self-interest, personal involvement, or financial or any
    other personal gain in relation to the matter investigated by the Commission, when the member
    becomes aware of the said connections and when the Chairperson has been informed, the
    member shall refrain from inquiring into the matter or in deciding its outcome.

However, section 27b states: “The Commission can only be questioned or a suit can be filed against
the Commission in court regarding a component in a report published by the Commission following an
inquiry, should sufficient evidence be available to prove the component is false.”

Accountability

In accordance with section 32 of the Act, the HRCM is to prepare and submit an annual report before
28 February of each year to the President of the Republic and the People‟s Majlis. The report is to
contain the following; (1) complaints filed at the HRC; (2) cases decided by the HRC and the decisions
of the HRC; (3) cases in ongoing inquiries by the HRC; (4) recommendations made to the government
authorities on areas identified during the report‟s time frame, which need to be improved; and (5)
recommendations adopted and abandoned by the Government authorities.

The HRCM should openly publish the annual report within 14 days of submitting the report to the
President and the People‟s Majlis. (sec 32 (c)).

Section 32(d) of the HRCM Act also authorizes the HRCM to submit a special report to the President
and the People‟s Majlis, should a special circumstance arise deemed relevant by the HRC.

Financial independence

Section 30 deals with financial matters and specifies that the state treasury shall provide the HRCM
with the funds from the annual budget approved by Parliament, necessary to fully execute its
responsibilities. The section also specifies that the HRCM shall not utilize the financial assistance
provided by persons or an organization or a foreign government, for purposes except achieving the
HRCM‟s objectives. Finally, a financial statement comprising the HRCM‟s income, expenditure, assets
and liabilities, audited and prepared in consultation with the Auditor General and in accordance with
the regulations formulated by the HRCM, is to be submitted to the President of the Republic and the
People‟s Majlis along with the annual report of the HRC.

3. Composition, appointments processes, tenure

    3.1 Composition

Section 4a of the Act states that the Commission shall consist of 5 members. These 5 members are
currently; Mr. Ahmed Saleem (President), Mr. Mohamed Zahid (Vice-President) and three other
members, Mr. Ahmed Abdul Kareem, Ms Mariyam Azra Ahmed and Ms Majida Majdhee (Gender
distribution is: 3 male and 2 female). The HRC appointed Mr. Ahmed Naseer Yoosuf as its Secretary
General.

    3.2 Selection and Appointment

According to section 4 of the Act, Commissioners shall be appointed “from human rights organizations
and among persons who are active in promoting human rights in social and technical fields such as
religion, law, society, economy and health.” Section 6 of the Act details the prerequisite of the
members i.e.:

                               1
              must be a Muslim ,

1
  Islam is the state religion of Maldives, and adherence to it is legally required of citizens by a revision
of the constitution in 2008: Article 9, Section D states that a non-Muslim may not become a citizen of
the Maldives.

                                  Human Rights Commission of the Maldives                                      3
                                                 March 2010
            must be a citizen of the Maldives,
            must have attained 25 years of age,
            must not have been convicted in the past 5 years of fraud or an offence punishable by a
             Hadd as per Shari‟ah, not be a person elected or appointed to hold a political office, not
             be employed in the Government or private sector, not be convicted of bribery, be a
             member of a political party nor engaged in the activities of a political party.

There are no objective measures or criteria to ensure pluralism in the legislation. In its statement of
compliance, the HRCM mentions that of the current members two are women and those members
come form different parts of the country, providing a measure of geographical diversity It is also stated
that they have a wide range of experiences in government, foreign services, UN, NGOs, education,
etc. It further indicates that the Maldives is an ethnically homogenous society; all Maldivians speak the
same language, and are Muslims.

Members of the HRCM are appointed in line with the process stipulated in section 5 of the Act. The
president proposes to the People‟s Majlis in writing when a new member is to be appointed to the
Commission. The names and profiles of at least the required number of members to be appointed are
to be provided to the People‟s Majlis. When the matter is proposed to the People‟s Majlis, an Ad hoc
Committee consisting of 7 members is to be set up to review the names and make recommendations
to the People‟s Majlis. The Ad hoc Committee interviews the candidates, reviews the outcomes of the
interviews, and submits a report of their recommendations to the People‟s Majlis. The People‟s Majlis
then makes a decision based on the report submitted, after which the Speaker of the People‟s Majlis
informs the President of the decision of the People‟s Majlis in writing.

Section 5 (d) specifies that the candidates to be appointed as members of the Commission shall be
chosen from the President‟s nominees and respondents from the general publics. The President shall
emphasise the candidates to be representative of diverse professions.

In addition, section 8 of the Act specifies that the President and Vice-President of the HRCM shall be
appointed (from among the members of the HRC) by the President of the Republic of the Maldives,
following the advice of the People‟s Majlis.

It is not clear how members on the public are nominated, and whether this is in response to a public
announcement inviting applications from the general public for membership of the Commission.

In its statement of compliance, the HRCM mentions that there is no advisory body in addition to its
membership.
 I
Further the composition 7 members‟ Ad hoc committee that is tasked to nominate members is not
reflected. There is no indication whether civil society is represented.

    3.3 Tenure

Terms of Office, Remuneration, Dismissal and Resignation

Art 7 of the Act states that members serve for 5 years and may be reappointed once for a further 5
year term.

Section 17 states that the People‟s Majlis shall determine the remuneration and other financial
benefits offered to the President, Vice- President and members of the Commission. It also states that
these shall not be reduced during their tenures. The HRCM is to determine the remuneration and
other financial benefits provided its employees.

Section 15 addresses dismissal of members. The President of the Republic may dismiss members of
the HRCM and inform them of their dismissal in writing, upon submitting the matter to the People‟s
Majlis thereby seeking a two-third majority of the People‟s Majlis. Section 15a gives the following
reasons for dismissal;
    1. being declared bankrupt by a court of law;




                                Human Rights Commission of the Maldives                                4
                                               March 2010
   2. being unable to perform the duties and responsibilities of the Commission as a member; or
        being confronted with a situation whereby conflicts arise between undertaking the
        responsibilities of the HRC as a member and self-interest or personal gain;
   3. breaching the oath;
   4. when the People‟s Majlis deems a member has caused disrepute by being convicted of an
        offence; or
   5. being negligent and reckless in performing responsibilities of the HRC as a member.
Section 15b states that the President of the Republic may, on the advice of the People‟s Majlis,
temporarily suspend the member, if the situation is deemed rectifiable.

Section 16 specifies that if the President, Vice-President or a member of the HRC wishes to resign,
he/she may offer their resignation to the President of the Republic, in writing, specifying reasons to do
so. However, the person should continue to perform the duties for 30 days from the date of submitting
resignation, or until the President accepts the resignation. It also states that when the President or
Vice-President of the HRC resigns from office, it shall not be deemed that they had resigned as a
member of the HRC.

    4. Organisational infrastructure

        4.1 Organisational infrastructure

The outline of the organisational structure provided by the HRC shows 6 Departments:
  1. Education and Media Department (headed by Commissioner Ms Mariyam Azra Ahmed);
  2. Planning, Policy and Monitoring Department (headed by the HRC Vice President Mr. Mohamed
     Zahid
  3. Management and Finance Department (headed by the HRC President Mr. Ahmed Saleem);
  4. Complaints Department (headed by Commissioner Mr. Ahmed Abdul Kareem);
  5. Legal Department (headed by Ms Majida Majdhee)
  6. The National Preventive Mechanism (headed ad interim by the Vice-president)

Section 29 states that the HRCM shall appoint a Secretary General to administer the HRCM and that
the administration of the HRCM is subject to regulations formulated by the HRCM.

        4.2 Staffing

The HRCM is responsible for hiring and dismissing employees. In accordance with section 29, the
HRCM can hire and dismiss its own staff, including the Secretary General, and has employed
(according to its statement of compliance) a mix of men and women (22 male and 21 female) from a
range of disciplines and from various parts of the country. The HRCM currently employs 43 staff
members including the executive management.

        4.3 Premises:

According to its statement of compliance: The office of the HRCM is located in the city centre of the
Capital island of Male‟. While there are currently no regional offices of the HRCM in the Atolls, the
work plan for the year 2010 also includes an activity aimed at establishing the HRCM‟s regional offices
in the 7 provinces within the next five years. As it stands, in order to increase accessibility for all
people living in the Maldives, it is possible to file complaints at the HRCM either over the phone,
through fax or through email. The HRCM‟s office building is generally accessible for persons with
disabilities. However, a person with physical disability may find it difficult to enter the main gate as it is
located just a foot above ground level.

4.4 Budget

In its statement of compliance, the HRCM mentions that its budget has risen considerably in the
Commission‟s first years, from:
         USD 83,700 in 2005,
         to USD 294,900 in 2006
         approx. USD 574,072 in 2007


                                  Human Rights Commission of the Maldives                                   5
                                                 March 2010
        USD 1,648,577 in 2008 and
        USD 1,2027 045 in 2009.

The statement of compliance further indicates: while the HRCM formulates its own budget, the
HRCM‟s budget is regulated by the Ministry of Finance and Treasury, under the newly passed Public
Finance Act. From 2006, the UNDP has provided financial support to the HRCM under a four year
project (2006-2009) through which the UNDP provided technical and financial support to the HRCM.
The amount of USD 43, 097.38 was provided by the UN in 2009 under this project.


5. Working Methods

In its statement of compliance: A three year Strategic Plan was followed from 2007 until 2009. A new
Strategic Plan for the years 2010 - 2014 is to be finalized shortly by the HRCM. The draft plan
identifies 10 main focus areas under which strategic objectives, fully encompassing the HRCM‟s main
responsibilities and functions (Statement of compliance).

Section 18 specifies that a meeting of the HRC shall be held at least once a month. Section 19
specifies that decisions require unanimity, in the absence of which the majority of the Commission is
required to make a decision. In its statement of compliance, the HRC mentions that at present it meets
weekly (all members are full time) and meetings are attended by all members, provided they Heads of
Departments meetings are held weekly and attended by all directors and the secretary general of the
HRCM. If a Director is unable to attend, senior staff from respective department attend. A monthly staff
meeting is attended by all members, the secretary general, directors and other staff of the HRCM.

The HRCM establishes thematic working groups either internally or external partners outside. For
instance, the HRCM established an internal working group to assess elections in the country in 2008,
comprised of HRCM staff from different departments. The working group convened in time for the
Presidential Elections of October 2008 and the Parliamentary Elections of 2009. Regular meetings
were held by the group with relevant stakeholders and recommendations issued in order to ensure the
elections were carried out freely and fairly. The HRCM also leads a coalition of relevant government
authorities and NGOs working for the rights of the child. The HRCM took the lead in establishing the
coalition in early 2008 and this coalition has been active ever since. Regular meetings are held within
the coalition in order to discuss and determine joint activities to be conducted with the objective of
working for preventing child abuse. Activities of the coalition are carried out throughout the year and its
activities culminate in the marking of the World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse on 19th
November each year.

While the HRCM Act requires that a HRCM meeting be held monthly, in practice the HRCM meets
weekly (all members are full time) and meetings are attended by all members, the secretary
general, and by senior staff when required. Heads of Departments meetings are held weekly and
attended by all directors and the secretary general of the HRCM. If a Director is unable to attend,
senior staff from respective department attend. A monthly staff meeting is attended by all members,
the secretary general, directors and other staff of the HRCM.

6. GENERAL MANDATE

6. Mandate to protect human rights

Section 2 of the HRCM Act states the main objectives of the HRCM:
(a) to protect, promote and sustain human rights in the Maldives in accordance with Islamic Shari‟ah
and the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives;
(b) To protect, promote and sustain human rights in the Maldives in accordance with regional and
international conventions and declarations which the Maldives is a party to;
Section 20 (a-m) specifies the (responsibilities) mandate of the HRCM.

According to its statement of compliance the HRCM Act defines human rights as the Human Rights
HRCM Act defined human rights as „the fundamental rights stipulated in the constitution of the
Republic of Maldives and the rights not contradictory to the basic tenets of Islam, stipulated in


                                 Human Rights Commission of the Maldives                                 6
                                                March 2010
international conventions and declarations, which the Maldives is a party to‟. The HRCM has a broad
mandate, covering all the rights in the Constitution as well as those rights in the international human
rights instruments ratified by the Maldives.

6.1 Advisory functions

Functions regarding national legislation and advisory functions

The HRCM has this function under: Section 20 (f) Advice the government in the formulation of laws,
regulations and administrative codes concerning the promotion of a high regard for human rights and
the protection and sustenance of such rights; Identify violations of human rights in laws, regulations,
and administrative codes in the Maldives and to bring such violations to the government‟s attention.

6.2 Encouraging ratification and implementation of international standards

Under section 20 (h) of the HRCM Act the HRCM may advise the government and make propositions
on acceding and ratifying regional and international treaties and conventions regarding human rights;
assist and participate in the formulation of new conventions relating to human rights; Under Section 20
(i) participate abs assist in the formulation of international conventions on human rights.

According to the statement of compliance, the HRCM has held meetings with relevant government
authorities and submitted recommendations to the Government for the Maldives to become party to
the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families.
In addition, the HRCM has advised the Government to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons
with Disabilities and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced
Disappearance.

6.4 Monitoring functions

Under section 21 the HRCM can inspect any premises where persons are detained under a judicial
decision or a court order,…the Commission, during their inspections as per subsection (c), shall
inquire whether infringements of human rights of the detainees have occurred, and review the well-
being of the detainees and make recommendations to the relevant government authorities should they
deem the amenities offered to them or the facilities of detention need improvement.

According to the statement of compliance the HRCM conducts its monitoring function in four main
ways.

    1. The first involves following up on the recommendations issued by the HRCM either in survey
       or research reports by conducting regular follow up meetings with relevant authorities to
       advocate for the timely implementation of these recommendations.
    2. The second involves monitoring the implementation of human rights conventions the country
       is a party to. Focal ministries are requested to fill in a form developed by the HRCM and send
       them in before regular meetings are held to discuss implementation efforts.
    3. The third involves a pilot monitoring mechanism set up by the HRCM in 2009 to monitor the
       current human rights situations in the country. During the pilot stage, four focus areas (Abuse
       and Exploitation, Adequate Housing, Employment and Substance abuse) were selected.
       Cases of human rights violations in these sectors that the HRCM staff was made aware of
       through various channels and which were not reported to the HRCM directly were taken up
       and monitored by the HRCM. Appropriate action was taken by the HRCM on a case by case
       basis.
    4. The final method of monitoring conducted by the HRCM involves visits to places of deprivation
       of liberty. The HRCM regularly conducts visits to such places and reports based on the visits
       are submitted to the relevant government authorities and the Majlis and publicized widely. The
       recommendations issued in the report are followed up regularly through meetings and through
       follow up visits made to the same locations.

With the designation of the HRCM as the NPM, preventive visits are now being conducted, in that
context.



                                Human Rights Commission of the Maldives                               7
                                               March 2010
6.5 Investigation

Under Section 20 (a) and (b) the Commission is mandated to handle and investigate complaints
alleging human rights violations; (c) Inquire into and investigate complaints alleging infringement of
human rights caused by administrative codes observed in the Maldives, and take appropriate
measures as per this Act. Section 21 further re-iterates this power.
6.6 Reporting

The HRCM has the power “to publish its findings openly”. As noted above, and required by the HRCM
Act, the HRCM sends an annual report to the President and the Majlis (s. 32). The report includes
details of complaints filed at the HRCM, cases decided by the HRCM and the decisions of the HRCM,
cases in ongoing inquiries by the HRCM, recommendations made to the government authorities on
areas identified during the report‟s time frame which need to be improved, and recommendations
adopted and abandoned by the Government authorities. The Annual Report is also distributed
nationwide.

The HRCM is also empowered to carry out research on human rights as well as to publicize
propositions and recommendations of the HRCM through the media on the protection of human rights.
(s.20 (k) and (l). In this regard, the HRCM undertook a baseline public opinion survey on human rights
knowledge and attitudes in 2007 and published the results in a report The Rights Side of Life. The
findings of the survey report serves as a basis on which all of HRCM‟s activities are formulated.
Additional reports developed by the HRCM include: A Rapid Assessment of the Housing Situation
Report in 2008 and a Rapid Assessment of the Employment Situation in the Maldives and a Report on
Causes for Increase in Incidents of Crime in 2009.

7. Mandate to promote human rights

Under section 20 (e)To undertake whatever is necessary to engender a culture of human rights in the
Maldives, and to protect, sustain and promote human rights in the country.

7.1 By raising awareness on human rights norms and issues

The following sections stipulate the responsibilities of the commission:

Section 20 (e): „to promote a high regard for human rights, and protect and sustain human rights in the
Maldives; to increase awareness on human rights and promote a high regard for human rights
amongst the citizens of the Maldives and foreign nationals in the Maldives;
Section 21(h) Promote awareness on human rights by conducting seminars, workshops and other
programs and carry out research and publish the findings openly.

Section 21 (i) Disseminate general information on human rights to the public, and make relevant
publications.

According to its statement of compliance, the HRCM maintains a regularly updated website and
publishes a quarterly newsletter titled „Haqqu‟ which is distributed throughout the country. As part of its
education and awareness raising campaigns such as that of the voter education campaign for the
parliamentary elections in May 2009 and the sensitization campaign to mark the World Day for
Prevention of Child Abuse 2008/2009 the HRCM has produced posters, leaflets and video and audio
spots. In 2009, the HRCM also launched 11 video and audio spots, based on the UDHR as part of its
education campaign. As the Maldives is a relatively homogeneous society, the HRCM has not yet
needed to produce its resources in language other than Dhivehi (the national language) and English.
The HRCM conducts regular awareness raising workshops throughout the country. NGOs were the
focus of such workshops in 2007 when the HRCM conducted workshops for 200 NGOs.

7.2 Through programmes of research and training

Please refer to section 21 (h), above. The HRCM, through close cooperation with the Ministry of
Education, and in particular its Education Development Center, is currently undertaking a major
project to incorporate human rights into the national curriculum which is currently under review. In
2008 the HRCM began conducting human rights training workshops targeting senior government


                                 Human Rights Commission of the Maldives                                 8
                                                March 2010
officials in atolls throughout the country. Community based organizations such as Island Development
Committees and Women‟s Development Committees participate in these workshops as well. This
project will come to an end at the end of 2009 when workshops have been conducted in all atolls. The
2010 annual work plan includes an activity to conduct awareness programs aimed at schools and
teachers. Over the last couple of years, the HRCM has held several human rights seminars for
Parliamentarians, Deputy Ministers and Permanent Secretaries.

7.3 Addressing public opinion.

Under section 20 (l) the Commission can publicise propositions and recommendations of the
Commission through the media on the protection of human rights. It is also stipulated that the HRCM
can undertake additional tasks from those mentioned above to protect human rights.

According to the statement of compliance the HRCM holds quarterly press conferences and makes it
available to the media as necessary. The objectives of these press briefings are to inform public about
HRCM activities, concerning HR issues and working with the media to promote human rights. As
noted above, in 2005 HRCM carried out a baseline human rights survey entitled The Rights Side of
Life, in order to determine the level of human rights awareness among the general public.

This survey played a major role in assessing the human rights situation of the country as well as
gauging people‟s perceptions about human rights and the HRCM itself. The HRCM is specifically
mandated to increase awareness on human rights and promote respect for human rights amongst the
citizens of the Maldives and foreign nationals in the Maldives as well as creating a culture of human
rights. It also has to publicize propositions and recommendations of the HRCM through the media on
the protection of human rights. In its Strategic Plan the HRCM has several activities.

8. Quasi judicial functions

The HRCM has broad powers to take up human rights issues and to investigate human rights
violations,
either on complaint by individuals or organizations, referral from the authorities or on its own initiative
(s.20 (a) to (d).

The powers of the HRC are specified in section 21 of the Act:

The Commission possesses the following powers in undertaking its responsibilities;

Section 21 (a) and (b) power to investigate infringements of human rights check and prevent such an
infringement…inquire into complaints on infringement of human rights filed by individuals, government
and private organisations or members of the Commission, and take appropriate measures, (f). Inquire
into complaints on infringement of human rights filed against Government authorities or private
organisations and inform the alleged parties of such complaints, and recommend appropriate
measures to be taken.(g) Should a Judge or Chief Justice or Attorney General or claimant or
defendant deem a human rights infringement has occurred or have reason to believe such an
infringement is foreseeable in an ongoing trial, and should the Judge or Chief Justice or Attorney
General or the claimant or defendant file a complaint at the Commission, the Commission shall inquire
into the matter and submit a report to the Chief Justice and the Judge presiding the trial.

Section 22 gives the HRCM the mandate to inquire into and investigate complaints on infringement of
human rights, or foreseeable infringements, of a person or persons filed at the HRCM by a person, a
group, or a representative acting on their behalf. Based on the HRCM is empowered to:
    1. summon witnesses to the HRCM and procure their statements;
    2. summon persons related to an ongoing investigation to the HRCM and procure their
        statements;
    3. procure and examine relevant documents, when necessary, in an ongoing investigation;
    4. request specific information from a party in writing;
    5. instruct a person being questioned by the Commission in an ongoing inquiry not to leave the
        Maldives except with the permission of the HRCM;
    6. conduct investigations in public or in closed sessions;
    7. conduct investigations by a single member or a committee comprising members of the HRCM;


                                 Human Rights Commission of the Maldives                                  9
                                                March 2010
       8. procure evidence regarding an ongoing inquiry; and
       9. accept legal counsel.
  It also specifies that should a government authority fail within the given period of time to provide
  information or submit a report requested by the Commission regarding a complaint filed at the
  Commission, the Commission shall inquire into the matter in its own capacity.

  Section 23 gives the HRCM powers to assist the Court in an ongoing trial; “(a) Should the Commission
  receive information in relation to an infringement of human rights of a person in an ongoing trial, the
  Commission, with the permission of the presiding Judge of the trial, may submit the information to the
  court. (b) unless the Judge permits the information to be shared as per subsection (a), the
  Commission shall not interfere with the proceedings of the trial in any manner.”

      Section 24 of the Act specifies the actions to be taken by the HRCM upon closing an inquiry;
         If it deems that an infringement of human rights has taken place or negligence has occurred
          in taking appropriate measure to check and prevent such an infringement, and if it believes a
          peaceful reconciliation can be achieved, the HRCM is to, with the consent of both parties
          involved, seek an amicable solution;
         refer a matter to the court should the matter be of irreconcilable nature or if the HRCM fails to
          resolve it amicably;
         provide the inquiry report to the complainant and provide a copy of the report to the
          respondent if the HRC decides that the respondent is responsible for the matter;
         Provide the inquiry report to the relevant government authorities and make recommendations
          to the authorities on the appropriate measures to be taken to check and prevent such matters.

      Section 25 of the Act provides the respondent with the right to be heard or to seek legal counsel to
      submit their account of the matter; failing this the HRC‟s decision will be considered void. In the
      practice, there seems to have been little use of this power.

      Section 26 of the Act describes the duty to obey HRC orders. “It is a duty of Maldivian citizens and
      persons within the jurisdiction of the Maldives as per the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives,
      to obey orders to summon to the Commission, or provide information or submit a document to the
      Commission or act or refrain from committing an act required by the Commission, in relation to the
      powers conferred through Commission‟s responsibilities.” It also specifies that a person failing to
      do so or committing an act causing disrepute to the HRC shall remain under house arrest for 3
      months. If such a person is a government employee, the person shall be dismissed from
      employment.

      According to its statement of compliance:

      The HRC regularly conducts inspections of places where people are detained, including police
      detention centres, prisons and mental health institutions. It has resolved to undertake regular visits
      to all the Atolls of the country for monitoring and awareness-raising purposes. Complaints to the
      Commission are handled by the Complaints Department. As noted above, complaints may be filed
      through phone, fax or email. Once a complaint is file, the director of the complaints director
      decides on the admissibility, assigns the case to a complaints officer who conducts necessary
      investigation as allowed under the HRCM Act. Once the investigation is complete, the case is sent
      to a meeting of Commission members for the final decision to be made. The complainant is then
      informed of the decision or outcome of the case in writing, as required under the HRCM Act.

      A total of 705 complaints were submitted to and processed by the Commission in 2008, out of
      which 167 were related to employment, 85 cases relating to prison, 72 cases of housing and 75
      complaints relating to torture. From the 705 complaints receives only 421 cases were processed
      and 284 were under review.

9. RELATIONSHIP WITH RELEVANT HUMAN RIGHTS STAKEHOLDRS AND OTHER BODIES.

  9.1 Relationships with Civil Society

  One of the three main objectives of the HRCM is to assist and support non-governmental
  organizations involved in the protection of human right (s.2(c)) of the Act. According to its statement of


                                   Human Rights Commission of the Maldives                               10
                                                  March 2010
compliance, the HRCM has been encouraging the establishment of human rights NGOs and
cooperates with several. For example, in 2007, the HRCM conducted HR awareness programs for
NGOs in each atoll. Two hundred NGOs participated in the program. Community based organizations
such as Island Development Committees and Women‟s Development Committees have also
participated in the HRCM‟s HR training workshops targeting the senior administrative officials,
conducted in 2008 and 2009. The HRCM works with civil society organizations on specific issues as
well. As noted above, in 2008, the HRCM took a leading role in the establishment of a coalition of
relevant government agencies and civil society organizations working in the field of child protection to
conduct a campaign for the prevention of child abuse. The HRCM has recently taken the lead in
establishing a network of collaboration and cooperation among NGOs working in the field of human
rights throughout the country. The HRCM undertakes joint projects with NGOs as well. HRCM staffs
have undertaken HR awareness sessions, training of trainers‟ workshops and issue based awareness
programs in individual islands and atolls in collaboration with local NGOs in 2008 and 2009. The
HRCM also assisted in the formulation of the NGO report to be submitted for the Universal Periodic
Review (UPR).

9.2 Relationship with other bodies

In addition to the close relationship between the HRCM and the judiciary contemplated throughout the
HRCM Act, Article 23 in particular provides for the HRCM, with the consent of court, to submit reports
to the presiding judge in human rights related cases. Although the HRCM has a workable relationship
with the judiciary, once hosting a human rights seminar for judges, the HRCM has faced numerous
obstacles in developing this relationship in a meaningful and sustainable manner. For instance, judges
have a very narrow reading of the provision for amicus curea in the HRCM Act. Coming from a
Shari‟ah background, the judges argue that the concept of amicus curea is foreign to Islamic Shari‟ah
and as such, in the Maldives would be an intrusion on the independence of the judiciary. The failure to
recognize the HRCM as a partner, rather than a competitor, in the administration of justice has been a
major barrier to advancing this relationship with the judiciary.(statement of compliance).

The HRCM has made several suggestions to the Majlis Secretariat that a memorandum of
understanding be concluded between the HRCM and the Majlis to formalize a relationship, and,
therefore, serve as a basis for closer and more substantive co-operation in the future. It was also
suggested that the Majlis establishes a Human Rights Committee, or failing which, for an existing
committee to be entrusted with human rights mandate. In various meetings over the years, the HRCM
has continued to put forward the idea of closer co-operation with the Majlis, including ideas to debate
at the Majlis the HRCM‟s human rights reports and recommendations. The HRCM maintains a
consultative relationship with the Sub-Committee on Home Affairs of the Majlis.


10. Cooperation with the United Nations and other organizations

There is no specific provision in the law on this issue.

However, according to the statement of compliance, the HRCM interprets its powers so as to enable it
to both contribute to State party reports as well as to submit parallel reports to treaty bodies. Its
current Strategic Plan has the following activities:
    o Provide advice to the government on its international human rights obligations, including the
        desirability of joining international human rights mechanisms and removing existing
        reservations, on its reporting obligations to relevant UN treaty bodies.
    o Advise the Government on and, where necessary, train Government officials, in the
        preparation of its reports; where appropriate, prepares parallel reports to United Nations treaty
        bodies.

In 2007, the HRCM attended the meeting of the Committee on the Rights of the Child when the State
Report of the Maldives was under consideration. In 2008, the HRCM submitted two shadow reports to
the state reports on the two optional protocols to the CRC and the HRCM attended the 50th session of
the Committee on the Rights of the Child, during which they were considered. The HRCM has met
with UN Special Rapporteurs that have conducted visits to the Maldives including Special Rapporteur
on adequate housing (February 2009), Special Rapporteur on independence of judges and lawyers
(March 2007) and the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of expression (March).2009).The HRCM is


                                 Human Rights Commission of the Maldives                              11
                                                March 2010
currently working on its report to be submitted for the Universal Periodic Review in 2010. HRCM
implemented a 3 year UN project from 2007 – 2009. The project was formulated to provide the
necessary technical and financial support to carry out some of the key activities identified under the
Strategic Plan of the HRCM and to help develop the capacity of HRCM. The UNICEF country team is
also a member of the HRCM led coalition working on the campaign for the prevention of child abuse.
HRCM has been granted membership of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions
(APF) and has attended annual meetings of the APF since 2004, first as an observer and latterly as a
member.

The Secretariat noted that a Capacity Assessment of the HRCM was undertaken in October 2009 as
part of the “Regional Initiative in Support of the Capacity Development of National Human Rights
Institutions in Asia‐ Pacific”, a joint initiative of APF, OHCHR and UNDP. The report of this
Assessment includes an analysis of functional and development capacity gaps of the HRCM and
proposes a number of capacity development strategies and actions aimed at enhancing the
operational effectiveness of the HRCM. The Secretariat has included this report, which has been
endorsed by the HRCM, among the files of the SCA.


                                  SUMMARY OF ANNUAL REPORT

No annual report has been provided for the year 2009, but an executive summary of the 2008 annual
report has been provided. The HRCM asked to submit the official annual report of 2008 at a later date
since it was undergoing translation. The Secretariat notes that it never received it.

Some of the activities in the summary report 2008 include:

A review on the Convention on the Rights of All Persons with Disabilities was undertaken and
recommendations were put forward to the government on measures for the speedy ratification of this
convention. The Convention against Corruption was reviewed to identify the measures that need to be
undertaken by the Anti-Corruption Commission and Maldives Chamber of Commerce and the
Commission advocated for and succeeded in bringing about amendments in certain rules and
administrative procedures for consistency with human rights standards. This includes stricter
sentences for sexual offences and setting a specified period for issuing of court reports.

On June 2008 a form was sent to all the focal point ministries to acquire information on the
implementation status of the respective instruments. The commission disapprovingly notes that it has
not received any information from the focal point ministries.

The Commission also highlights shadow reports that it has presented and its views and concerns. The
reports highlight the views and concerns of the commission with regard to the implementation of these
protocols in the Maldives. The Commission notes activities of collaboration with NGOs.
T
he report indicates that research was conducted on the Housing situation and Employment situation in
the Maldives, the causes of increase in the incidence of crime in the capital city Male‟, and furthermore,
work was initiated on a Baseline Assessment relating to the Rights of the Most Disadvantaged Groups.

In 2008 visits were made to 8 places where persons deprived of liberty were kept. They include the
Drug Rehabilitation Center, Male‟ Jail, Male‟ Custodial, the jail in HA. Hathiffushi, Home for People
with Special Needs, the Education and Training Centre for Children and Kudakudinge Hiyaa (the state
home for children). Reports based on the condition of the human rights in these places were submitted
to the concerning authorities.



                                  SPECIFIC MANDATE (OPTIONAL)

National Preventive Mechanism under OPCAT

According to the statement of compliance:



                                Human Rights Commission of the Maldives                                12
                                               March 2010
Following the ratification of OPCAT by the Maldives in February 2006, a workshop was held jointly by
the Government of the Maldives and the Geneva based Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT)
to discuss the establishment of a Maldivian NPM in 2007. As a result of the dialogue initiated at this
workshop, the government, APT and HRCM itself came to believe that considering adequate powers
required for an effective NPM was already encapsulated in the HRCM Act, HRCM could act as the
country‟s NPM as required under OPCAT.

Subsequently, the Maldivian government took the decision to designate HRCM as the country‟s NPM
and this was informed to the Ministry of Home Affairs in writing in December 2007. The APT noted
certain amendments to the HRCM Act were required for it to fulfill the mandate of NPM as fully as
possible and HRCM is currently advocating for and working on bringing about these amendments.

The HRCM Act empowers the NPM to visit and inspect „any premises where persons are detained
under a judicial decision or court order‟ (s.21 (c) of the Act) It is this clause that the APT has
recommended be changed in order to cover visits to any place under the State‟s jurisdiction where
persons are detained for any reason..

While there are no stated criteria relating to the experience and expertise required to carry out NPM
work developed at national level, the HRCM follows the OPCAT criteria and APT‟s guidelines. While
there are four NPM staff employed, three of them are women.

Under the contract and MoU signed with the APT, the APT has facilitated two comprehensive training
programs for the NPM staff in 2009. A separate and adequate budget has been provided by the
Government to be utilized for the functions of the NPM. The HRCM plans on hiring outside experts
with professional expertise (such as doctors) who will accompany current staff on their visits and assist
in the formulation of reports beginning from 2010.

The Strategic Plan for the NPM includes conducting visits to all existing places of deprivation of liberty
in the Maldives, including all jails and police custodies as well as the children‟s home, psychiatric
institute, and the detention centre for children with problem behavior in Maldives. The NPM‟s visits are
scheduled so that there is enough time to effectively monitor the situations at places of deprivation
with regards to safeguards against ill treatment.

Working methods of the NPM have been developed and reviewed by APT professionals during the
second training workshop held in 2009, with a view to effective identification of good practice and gaps
in protection. The NPM is currently preparing to establish a constructive dialogue with the
SPT ,(statement of compliance)



Recommendations /concluding observations of international human rights mechanisms on the
     2
NHRI

      o   TREATY BODIES

CRC -2007

19. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Continue its efforts to ensure that the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives is a fully
independent monitoring mechanism in accordance with the Paris Principles (General
Assembly resolution 48/134, annex) for the promotion and monitoring of the implementation of
the Convention as well as to receive, investigate and address complaints from individuals,
including children;
 (b) Ensure that the Human Rights Commission is provided with adequate human and financial
resources and that its personnel is provided with regular human rights training in order to
carry out the tasks of the Commission’s mandate;
(c) Ensure that the Human Rights Commission, particularly its individual
complaint mechanism is easily accessible to children;

2
    This section has been developed by the Secretariat.

                                 Human Rights Commission of the Maldives                               13
                                                March 2010
(d) Continue to seek advice and assistance, among others, from the Office of the
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in order to ensure
greater compliance of the Commission with the Paris Principles and that the Commission seek
accreditation through the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights
Institutions.


Excerpts from the Report of the SPT visit to the Maldives. (For more details refer to
CAT/OP/MDV/126 February 2009)

If the National Human Rights Commission is to maintain the character of a national preventive
mechanism, the State of the Maldives must provide it with sufficient human and material resources to
meet its objectives. This should not happen as an additional charge to its existing activities: the
preventive entity should have its own agenda, separated from the activities the HRCM usually carries
out as part of its general mandate. In this regard, it must include an autonomous programme of visits
to all places of detention and custody of persons (prisons, police stations, psychiatric hospitals,
centres for minors, immigrant detention centres, etc.).

As a result of the discussions with the Commission representatives, the SPT is concerned that the
HRCM may not have appropriately qualified people to undertake the variety of jobs related to the NPM
work and that the HRCM might face the problem of inadequate financial resources. Current budgeting
procedures were such that they might not guarantee the required financial autonomy; the SPT was
informed that the practice of processing the Commission‟s budget proposals was being developed.
The SPT requests information on the budgetary and human resources made available to the
HRCM to effectively carry out its functions as NPM, including a breakdown of the budgetary
resources allocated for it to carry out the work as NPM.

70 In light of this first meeting with the national preventive mechanism, the SPT appreciates that the
State of the Maldives has initiated the process of establishing the national preventive mechanism and
calls upon the State to continue with the process of consolidating and institutionalizing it. For these
purposes, it reaffirms the following guidelines addressed to the State in order to guarantee the
optimum development of this mechanism, as well as directed at the national mechanism so that a
comprehensive and complementary plan may be put in place allowing the NPM to accomplish its
functions for the prevention of torture

271.    The SPT requests the authorities to clarify whether the Human Rights Commission Act has
entered into force, and if not, to provide information on the planned time-table for its entry into force.

272.     The SPT request the authorities to provide information on the exact scope of the visiting
mandate of the HRCM and specify whether it covers also police holding facilities. The SPT also
requests information on the number of visits carried out in the course of the year 2008 and planned for
the year 2009, the establishments visited, and possible proposals made by the Commission to amend
existing laws or regulations regarding safeguards against ill-treatment.


    o   SPECIAL PROCEDURES MANDATE HOLDERS

SR freedom of religion (2007- A/HRC/4/21/Add.3)

(Legislation excluding non-Muslims from public positions)
44.     There are also a number of laws limiting eligibility for public office to Muslims. The Human
Rights Commission Act, which was adopted by the People‟s Majlis on 8 August 2006 and
subsequently ratified by the President, stipulates that only Muslims qualify as members of the national
human rights institution. This provision was retained in the legislation, despite opposition from
members of the Human Rights Commission and the international community.

56.     Whilst welcoming the fact that national unity and harmony are highly prized in the
Maldives, she notes that the concept of national unity appears to have become inextricably
linked to the concept of religious unity, and even religious homogeny, in the minds of the
population. She notes that religion has been used as a tool to discredit political opponents


                                 Human Rights Commission of the Maldives                                14
                                                March 2010
and that political opponents have publicly accused each other of being either Christians or
Islamic extremists, both of which have proved to be damaging accusations in a country in
which religious unity is so highly regarded. She emphasizes that political actors across the
board must refrain from using religion as a tool to discredit opponents. She considers that the
Government must take the lead in raising awareness about the issue of freedom of religion or
belief, and human rights in general, and she notes the potential role of the Human Rights
Commission in this regard. She stresses that efforts to improve respect for freedom of religion
or belief can only be effective if carried out in full consultation with the population as a whole,
and as such she encourages the Government to translate her report, and to disseminate it
throughout the country.

58.      The Special Rapporteur welcomes the Government’s decisive action in response to the
public statement issued by the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, which purported to ban the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). However, she regrets that the Supreme
Council continues to hold the view that article 18 of the UDHR contradicts the Constitution of
the Maldives and the Islamic faith. She encourages the Human Rights Commission to continue
its efforts to translate and disseminate international human rights standards, and calls upon
the Government to lend the Human Rights Commission its full support in this endeavour.

67.      She is also concerned by legislation limiting eligibility for certain public posts to
Muslims, including the Human Rights Commission Act, and by the Citizenship Law, which
stipulates that only Muslims can apply for Maldivian citizenship. She encourages legislators to
consider introducing amendments to these pieces of legislation, to bring them into compliance
with the treaty obligations, particularly under article 26 of the ICCPR. She notes that according
to article 4, paragraph 2, of the 1981 Declaration, all States must make all efforts to enact or
rescind legislation where necessary to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of religion or
belief.




                              Human Rights Commission of the Maldives                            15
                                             March 2010

								
To top