Tag archive

US

UN Expresses Worry Over Increased Polarisation In Maldives; Here’s What Others Said In Past

in News/Politics by

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern on the increasing polarisation in the Maldives, which has made dialogue among the Government and political parties increasingly difficult. This is the second time during the year when UN chief expressed concern over the increasingly autocratic regime under President Abdulla Yameen.

ban


Ban Ki-moon in a statement released on Saturday said:

The Secretary-General strongly encourages all concerned to work toward an inclusive dialogue aimed at finding mutually acceptable solutions based on compromise, the primacy of the national interest and the preservation of democratic principles and institutions.

Earlier in May, Ban had also expressed the need to establish political dialogue among all stakeholders and urged the Maldivian government to grant clemency to former president Mohamed Nasheed who was locked up in Maafushi jail that time.

Besides the apex human rights body, other human rights watchdog had been expressing concern over the deteriorating political situation in the country. Here’s what all has been said so far:


On Muzzling Political Voice


In September, CHRI said that the nations is sliding into a dictatorial system once again and the situation will soon push the island nation into the brink of and anarchy.

Suspend, exclude and halt the current government.

Following CHRI’s report Commonwealth had put the Maldives on agenda and threatened suspension by March next year. However, President and his men decided to leave the Commonwealth on October 13.

In August, United States’ lawmakers slammed government by saying that the legitimate political space is “narrowing” in the country. The US blamed government’s intolerance for putting many opposition politicians behind bars adding that they are being sent to jail after flawed judicial processes.

’s Special Convoy to the , also warned government of international consequences and said that the country facing “severe deficit”.

zeid-raad-al-hussein-1


The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein at the 32nd Human Rights Council session in Geneva in July had expressed concern about the “shrinking democratic space” in the country and said the use of terrorism related charges “troubled” him.

In July, European Union opposed to capital punishment in “all cases and without exception” and urged government to continue to apply the “’de facto moratorium’” on executions as a first step towards its abolition.


Death Penalty


Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein also expressed worry over implementation of death penalty in the country. He also cited the “flagrant irregularities” in Humam’s trial, describing it as “a rushed process that appears to contravene the Maldives’ own laws and practices and international fair trial standards in a number of respects.”

U.N. logo pattern a press conference background at the United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)


Four United Nations human rights experts in July also urged the government to halt the execution of Hussain Humam Ahmed, and to re-try him in compliance with international standards.They called on the authorities to uphold the unofficial moratorium on capital punishment in force for the last six decades.

Criminal proceedings against Mr. Ahmed did not afford him guarantees of fair trial and due process,” said the independent experts on arbitrary detention, summary executions, torture and independence of the judiciary. The implementation of a death sentence following judicial procedures which do not respect the most stringent guarantees of fair trial and due process is unlawful and tantamount to an arbitrary execution.

Freedom Of Press


press 4

, the international watchdog for press freedom, had termed the ’ government’s assault on the country’s independent “utterly absurd and unacceptable”. The organization slammed President ’s regime after a court banned former journalists with the now-defunct newspaper, Haveeru, from working at any other organization, saying it could only lead to authoritarianism and the end of democracy.

Benjamin Ismaïl, head of Asia-Pacific desk at the RSF, said:

The court’s verdict not only violates the fundamental rights of all the journalists which it targets, but it also confirms, if need be, that the judiciary is serving the government’s policy to suppress critical and independent media in the country.

Maldives has been ranked 112th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2015 World Press Freedom Index, after falling 60 places since 2010.


Nasheed’s Trial & Human Right Abuses


In May, European Union adopted a resolution to adopt a resolution seeking imposition of sanctions on the country, the government has hit back calling it “inappropriate” and “irresponsible”.

Nasheed


The resolution was passed condemning the frequent “human rights abuses” committed during President Abdulla Yameen’s regime.

Around same time, an official fact-finding mission report prepared by the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) raised questions over the arrest of former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed saying that it was without legal basis and that he must be provided with a transparent appeal hearing.

Renowned human rights body Amnesty International termed the conviction of Nasheed after a deeply flawed and politically motivated trial is a “travesty of justice.”

Why Trump’s Win Could Be A Good Thing For Maldives?

in News/Politics by

trump


The shocking victory of real-estate mogul Donald Trump becoming the 45th President-elect of the United State of America is partly being attributed to that FBI Director James Comey’s announcement of a new investigation against rival Hillary Clinton two weeks before polling day. But Clinton’s campaign was disrupted the maximum by Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks which continues to publish the emails of her campaign chair John Podesta, a major Washington insider.

The whistleblowing website has published close to 56,000 emails from Podesta’s private account since October 7, sometimes more than once a day, revealing the internal communications of Clinton’s campaign staff.

And one of them is linked to the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. John Podesta also owns Washington-based lobbyist firm Podesta Group run by his brother Tony. The firm signed a lucrative deal with the Maldives last September to counsel Abdulla Yameen-led government amid threat of sanctions and was paid USD 50,000 by a company implicated in country’s biggest corruption scandal.

podesta-hillary


And whether or not Trump will act against Clinton, who, he had said during a debate would “be in jail” if he became the president, Podesta can actually be investigated over its links with a money-laundering regime in Maldives.

podestaPodesta, the “superlobbyist” has been accused for “whitewashing” Yameen and his cronies’ crimes, as alleged by opposition and received its fee from state-owned Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC).

Podesta was hired by Abdulla Yameen-led government to provide strategic counsel to the government.

The contract with the government published by Podesta Group on the US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) office’s website read, “(Podesta will) provide strategic counsel on strengthening ties (of Maldives) to the US government.”

The deal was cracked at whopping USD 300,000 for a period of six months between September 8, 2015 and March 7, 2016.

Government initially denied reports of hiring Podesta but e-mails containing details of cost negotiations with the firm — sent by Jeffrey Salim Waheed, the deputy permanent representative in New York — were leaked. The then Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon were also marked in the mails.

Adeeb, who brokered may such PR deals for his boss, was in direct communication with Foreign Ministry officials over hiring Podesta. Adeeb was also informed that Podesta wanted its fee to be paid in monthly instalments of USD 50,000.

yameen-adeeb


Even though the deal was called off in October after Adeeb’s arrest on the charges of plotting to assassinate Yameen in boat blast on September 30, Podesta received one-month fee for its services from state tourism promotion company MMPRC.

Documents filed by Podesta at the US Department of Justice disclosed that the firm was paid USD 50,000 from MMPRC.

Later, MMPRC’s former head Abdulla Ziyath was found guilty in money embezzlement USD 80 million from state coffers along with Adeeb.

Podesta, however, was not the only firm to be paid a lucrative fee for polishing the Maldives’ deteriorating image by MMPRC. Cherie Blair’s Omnia Strategy was also paid more than £200,000 for consultancy on “democratic consolidation” to Yameen by the state tourism promotion company.

The main-opposition Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) alleged that the government was spending obscene amounts of public money for image-building.

“Government officials are clearly rattled at the prospect of facing targeted sanctions. But rather than doing the right thing and freeing the political prisoners, they are spending obscene amounts of public money on foreign lobbyists, who will try to whitewash their crimes,” Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, the party’s international spokesman was quoted as saying by Maldives Independent.

In September this year, an investigative documentary by Al-Jazeera exposed embezzlement of money from state coffers to private accounts by illegally leasing islands. The documentary claimed that Yameen and his associates

The secretly filmed interviews describe how on mopeds carried millions in cash to the and his aides with some funds amounting to as large as $1.5 billion.

The Truth Of Hillary Clinton’s USD 200 Million Mansion In The Maldives

in News by

Hillary Clinton, the United States’ Democratic Party presidential candidate who is vying strongly to become the first woman president of the country in less than two weeks is eye of the storm following 2000 pages of email leaks by the WikiLeaks.

hillary

From her questionable relationship between the Clinton Foundation and its donors, Clinton’s ease with powerful interests on Wall Street, her ties to wealthy campaign contributors, the leaks have it all.

The emails stolen from Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta did not really unearth a major sandal, or a case of corruption but it surely created international furore making front page headlines.

But, this story by Nevada Country Scooper got even the Maldives by surprise as it claimed that Clinton struck a deal of “The Imperial Maldives” for USD 200 million.

nc-scooper

The story published on NC Scooper on October 20 that quoted sources from the WikiLeaks said:

This afternoon, WikiLeaks says sources in the Clinton Foundation inadvertently leaked the details of an apparently secret deal with Christie’s International Real Estate in New York. Several recorded phone conversations between Christie’s executives and Clinton board member, Frank Guistra, clearly show that a deal for “The Imperial Maldives” had been closed. “The Imperial Maldives” is a development of 185 water villas set above the turquoise waters of the North Male Atoll. According to the recordings, the agreed price was $200 million (U.S).

It further reported:

Also according to the recordings, this deal began the morning after the last debate. The morning after Trump told Clinton he would appoint a special prosecutor and put her in prison. Mr. Guistra is heard to say, “Trump can drag his sorry orange ass down to the Maldives if he wants her so bad. There’s no extradition treaty!” [laughing]

 

The Clinton camp is very tight-lipped at the moment and no comments from Clinton Foundation board members. WikiLeaks seems to suggest that the Clintons are feeling the pressure of a world-wide criminal organization becoming frayed at the seams, and are looking for a hideout until they can hatch their next diabolical plan for world domination. Or, those fuckers just need a real good vacation.

On social media many people lost their mind over the news and took Twitter to comment about it.

But were you looking closely? Did you read the story without paying attention to the last line, “WikiLeaks seems to suggest that the Clintons are feeling the pressure of a world-wide criminal organization becoming frayed at the seams, and are looking for a hideout until they can hatch their next diabolical plan for world domination. Or, those fuckers just need a real good vacation,” good enough to figure out that it was a satire, which many did not understand.

The website known for its satirical take also added a picture captioned “Bill Clinton seen walking his dogs Buster and Frank at his mansion in the Maldives,” which is a file picture from 2015.

The NC Scooper, well-known for being mistaken as a hard-hitting news platform, even takes sarcastic tone while telling about itself:

“…the Scooper did not own a printing press, nor did they have the courage to borrow one. And frankly they didn’t have the funds either. So the Scooper relied solely on shouting at people on the street to circulate the news. Later in the 1930s, the Scooper expanded its shouting service to Nevada City, often paying vagrants to assault citizens with news.”

It later clarifies in its manifesto that it is a sarcastically website but again, with a humorous undertone,”The Scooper is a satirical website is in scope and intent. Sometimes it’s funny; often it is not. We provide fake news and social criticism in a satirical setting. Our intention is not to fool or trick anyone, but obviously it happens.”

Record MVR 633 M Fine For Reef Damage Proposed For Vietnamese Shipping Company

in Mas-Huni Brief by

A Vietnamese shipping company may be fined a record MVR 633million (US$45million) for damaging a reef in the country, according to a proposal by environmental regulator.

ship


  • MV NGOC Son allegedly damaged the island’s south western reef on August 13
  • The carrier vessel belonging to Northern Shipping Joint Stock Company was carrying construction material for a water and sanitation project Fuvahmulah
  • The council said the ship caused irreversible damage around a diving spot
  • The company has been given 30-day period to contest the fine
  • According to the Environmental Protection and Preservation Act, the maximum fine that can be levied for environmental damages is MVR100million

Abdul Rasheed Nafiz, chairman of transport authority said:

The amount we have proposed is based on EPA’a estimation for maximum damage to the reef

Whistleblower Gasim’s Sentencing Postponed Amid Transparency Maldives’ Call For His Acquittal

in News/Politics by

The sentencing of Bank of Maldives former manager Gasim Abdul Kareem, who has been charged with unauthorised disclosure customer information, has been postponed amid the constant call from watchdog Transparency Maldives for his acquittal for whistle-blowing the one of the biggest corruption in the country where the money meant for state was siphoned off to private accounts.

cherie-1


The hearing was canceled as the presiding judge was on leave.

Police had arrested Gasim on the charges of allegedly disclosing the bank account details of Score of Flairs (S.O.F) Private Limited – a company involved in the country’s biggest corruption scandal with Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation to Omnia Strategy- a company founded and chaired by Cherie Blair.

Gasim, who is under house arrest since the beginning of trial, has got unprecedented support of Transparency Maldives which dub him as a whistle-blower and is carrying out a campaign in his defense.

Gasim’s lawayer Nazim Sattar had also put forward his case as an act of whistle-blowing to expose the corruption.

Nazim told FocusMaldives.com,

What he did was whistleblowing which is not a crime but the state is saying that he did a criminal offence which is punishable up to six-months

Gasim was found “unbailable” by six criminal court judges in 11 remand hearings for “potential interference with witnesses and evidence” and danger of absconding”.

Here’s everything you need to know about the case

  • Gasim was arrested on February 18 and has been incarcerated in Dhoonidhoo Detention Centre for more than three months.
  • He was under detention for more than three months.
  • According to an expose by The Daily Mail, Mohamed Allam Latheef, the owner of SOF Pvt Ltd facilitated transfer of funds from Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation to Omnia Strategy- founded and chaired by Cherie Blair.
  • An amount of £210,000 was transferred from MMPRC’s funds to HSBC account in London, apparently belonging to Omnia.
  • The amount was half of the total amount charged by Omnia strategy for providing six months consultancy service -in a yearlong contract- to the government on “democratic consolidation”.
  • Latheef acted as a middleman in ensuring that there is a smooth transaction between the two.
  • MMPRC, which allegedly misappropriated US$80 million from the state-owned tourism promotion agency also siphoned off US$70 million into SOF’s bank account.
  • Latheef is also a close associate of Adeeb and among the five suspects wanted in connection with the boat blast.
  • Interpol had issued red notice against him.
  • Gasim, who is pleading whistleblowing, has not been not been formally charged for any offence but his detention notice says he is accused under Penal Code Section 231, 232 and 233 for unlawful surveillance, acquisition and disclosure of information.
  • Penal Code Section 232 (b) provides an exception in the cases where an unauthorised acquisition of information is intended to expose wrongdoing.

“Under-Represented” Maldives Seeks UN Security Council Seat To Get “Equal Chance” At The Forum

in News/Politics by

Foreign Minister Mohamed Asim strongly voicing the concerns of the Maldives said that the country is “under-represented” and sought seat at United Nations Security Council in a bid to get “equal chance” to take decisions that impacts everyone.

asim


Addressing the 71st United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Debate, Asim made the announcement that Maldives is seeking candidacy to become a member of the UN Security Council for the term 2019-2020 for the first time since it joined UN 51 years ago urging the international community to value the island nation by “abilities, not… vulnerabilities.”

…. Value us by our abilities, not our vulnerabilities…. Evaluate our progress relatively, not against inapt benchmarks, we may be small, but we surely are; and we surely can be.

In his address, Asim sought to fill the South Asia representative spot on the 15 member Council saying,

For small states such as the Maldives, we are often under-represented because our delegations are small, and our capacities stretched. Every member of this organisation must have the opportunity to serve, must have an equal chance to be part of every body, especially the Security Council, to make the decisions that affect us all.

Watch His Full Speech:

Asim also took up the issue of climate change and said that the Maldives is ready to take action on the issue now, as the Maldives is one of the most “vulnerable” to environmental shocks and urged international community to engage in meaningful partnership to save “tomorrow”.

Asim said,

The Maldives is one of the most vulnerable to environmental shocks, and one of the most exposed to climate change impacts… We know our emissions are almost negligible. But we want you, the international community, to know that we, small as we are, are making the choice to take action, and to take action now! We want you, the international community, to continue to invest in climate action, invest in forging meaningful partnerships. Investing today is saving your tomorrow.

Taking forward the policy of ex-President Mohamed Nasheed, Asim said that climate change is an “existential threat” to the Maldives and  has the potential to erode decades of development gains. He also told the Assembly that the Maldives was among the ratifiers of the Paris Agreement.

For decades, we have been asking the world to take notice – advocating urgent action on climate change. As a lone voice in a sea of sceptics, we could not perhaps go far. But today, together with forty-three members of the Alliance of Small Island States, we can go many more miles. We, the Maldives, with thirteen other SIDS, were among the first ratifiers of the Paris Agreement.

Witness Retracts Statement In Sniper Trial, Alleges Police Duress

in News by

One of the two anonymous witnesses, who testified in the Criminal Court on Tuesday that former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb had hired a Sri Lankan sniper in a plot to assassinate President Abdulla Yameen, have now retracted from their statement alleging police duress.

adeeb-with-police


In a closed door hearing on Thursday, the witnesses said that police arrested his younger brother and intimidated him to give the statement.

Former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb conspired to assassinate President Abdulla Yameen by hiring a sniper over a “coffee table conversation”, the witnesses had testified in a criminal court on Tuesday.

According to the statement, which now the witness retracts, 24-year-old Sri Lankan sniper Lahiru Madushanka was allegedly hired to shoot President Yameen in October last year after the attempt to kill him in the speed boat blast in September failed.

Two other associates of Adeeb, Fazeel Hameed and Ishaq Hussain were also allegedly involved.

Now, the witness says he has no knowledge of any such coffee table conversation.

According to the earlier statement by the witnesses via teleconference to criminal court Judge Ali Adam in Monday’s hearing, he met Fazeel a day after the boat blast and said, “This would have been over if it was done in one go,” Maldives Independent reported.

Ishaq, who is currently absconding, had allegedly made payments. The second witness, who was a close friend of Ishaq, told that he gave US$20,000 to Fazeel and often distributed money to various people on Adeeb’s behalf.

The second witness said Ishaq told a group of five people that he gave US$20,000 to Fazeel. The witness described Ishaq as a close friend who often talked about distributing money from Adeeb to various people.

The trial in the assassination case, which was open earlier, was held in closed doors on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the judge gave Madushanka time till next hearing to find a legal counsel to represent him, the Sunday Times reported.

Madushanka is in detention for past eight months and his remand has been extended 23 times since his arrest in August 2015.

UN Young Leader Safaath Ahmed Is Winning The Internet And Here’s Why

in News by

Donning a burqa, when Safaath Ahmed Zahir- UN Young Leader for Sustainable Development Goals from the Maldives- spoke about women empowerment in New York, she won the internet.

Photo Courtesy: Twitter/ ‏@UNYouthEnvoy
Photo Courtesy: Twitter/ ‏@UNYouthEnvoy

The Queen’s Young leader said more number of women in Parliament and more women Presidents will take the world closure to global goals.

More women in Parliament, in policy-making, as Ministers, and more women Presidents- that’s my vision, Safaath said while addressing the Social Good Summit in New York.


The women’s activist and a proclaimed feminist from the small Indian Ocean archipelago, Safaath is among the 17 people appointed as the inaugural class of UN Young Leaders for Sustainable Development Goals.

Safaath, who has emerged as one of the youngest face in the Maldives, quickly got attention over her vision and best wishes started pouring in.


Safaath also spoke about the ongoing international issue of migrants and refugees along with her fellow young leaders.


The 25-year-old could not contain her excitement over meeting the celebrities, social and political leaders who were also present at the event for the good cause, including actors Mark Ruffalo and Preity Zinta.

Selected from over 18,000 nominations from 186 countries, Safaath has been recognised for her leadership and contribution to the achievement of the 17 Global Goals, also known as Sustainable Development Goals- to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the young leaders and said,

“These 17 young change-makers are a testament to the ingenuity of youth and I congratulate them for their exceptional leadership and demonstrated commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The flagship initiative of the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth comes against a backdrop of increasing efforts by the UN to engage young people in the implementation of SDGs.

Adeeb Hired Sri Lankan Sniper To Assassinate Prez Yameen Over Coffee Table Conversation, Testify Witnesses

in News/Politics by

Former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb conspired to assassinate President Abdulla Yameen by hiring a sniper over a “coffee table conversation”, two anonymous witnesses testified in a criminal court on Tuesday.

adeeb-maafushi


According to reports, a 24-year-old Sri Lankan sniper Lahiru Madushanka was allegedly hired to shoot President Yameen in October last year after the attempt to kill him in the speed boat blast in September failed.

Two other associates of Adeeb, Fazeel Hameed and Ishaq Hussain were also allegedly involved.

One of the witnesses testified via teleconference to criminal court Judge Ali Adam in Monday’s hearing that he met Fazeel a day after the boat blast and said, “This would have been over if it was done in one go,” Maldives Independent reported.

Ishaq, who is currently absconding, had allegedly made payments. The second witness, who was a close friend of Ishaq, told that he gave US$20,000 to Fazeel and often distributed money to various people on Adeeb’s behalf.

The second witness said Ishaq told a group of five people that he gave US$20,000 to Fazeel. The witness described Ishaq as a close friend who often talked about distributing money from Adeeb to various people.

However, Ishaq’s lawyer, former Attorney General Husnu Suood, questioned the testimonies of the anonymous witnesses.

“Is this all that Ishaq has been held been held in detention for eight months for?” he asked as the judge urged him to question the witness.

Meanwhile, the judge also asked Madushanka to find a legal counsel to represent him within a week could provide the unclassified documents, if the defense considers blacking out the names of the witnesses, the Sunday Times reported.

Madushanka is in detention for past eight months and his remand has been extended 23 times since his arrest in August 2015.

US Ambassador’s “Specific” Independence Day Message Amid Mayhem In Maldives Wins Hearts

in News/Politics by

It was not the Independence Day that it should have been. While the government made efforts to celebrate this day in every way possible, most of the people in Maldives chose to boycott the day over the deteriorating environment assuring basic rights to the citizens, journalists and political leaders.

atul


While many diplomats and leaders chose to wish the Maldives on this day out of their diplomatic obligations, some chose to criticism the government for their authoritarian rule, it was the sharp and specific message by Ambassador of the United States of America to Sri Lanka and Maldives, subtly referring to the people who believe in basic premise of democracy (and certainly not President Yameen & his supporters) that won everyone’s heart on social networking sites.

Here’s is what Ambassador Atul Keshap said in his message which he had posted on his official twitter handle:

His tweet soon got attention of many tweeples who within seconds started praising him and thanked him for understanding the sentiments of the Maldivians.

Meanwhile, European Union also made an effort to greet Maldivians taking care of their struggle for the basic rights in the country.

The Commonwealth, meanwhile, was criticised by the Maldives for putting out this message on Independence Day.

Go to Top