Delivered on 18 June 2018
Delivered by Mr. Jeffrey Salim Waheed, Minister|Deputy Representative of Maldives to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
Thank you Mr. Vice President,
My delegation thanks the Special Rapporteur on peaceful assembly and of association for the report submitted to the Human Rights Council.
The Maldives having introduced a democratic governance system in 2008, is still in search of a balance between democratic rights and democratic responsibilities. Citizenship in any nation is not passive. But in a democracy, each of us has a responsibility to our fellow citizens, to provide safe and stable environments built on a fundamental respect for all peoples. Articles 32 and 30 of the Maldives Constitution guarantee the rights to freedom of assembly and association respectively. The right to form societies, associations and to freely gather is further elaborated through legislation.
In keeping with our democratic responsibilities, political demonstrations without prior notice in the metropolitan area of our Capital Malé, are now required to be held at dedicated venues, as per a recent amendment brought to the respective legislation. This particular amendment was necessary given the tiny size of the Capital island, the population density (being one of the highest in the world) and growing traffic problems. In an island that is barely 2.2 square miles in size, where the majority of the roads are a maximum of 4 meters wide – protesters, public rallies, motorists and pedestrians all compete for this tiny public space at the same time.
The Government sees the amendment passed by the Parliament as an effort to ensure and promote the right to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly, as the amendment guarantees a designated place in our Capital Malé for protests, rallies and demonstrations to be held, without prior notice.
We consider the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association as universal. But they go hand in hand with the right to live peaceful lives, to have the opportunity to thrive, and to enjoy a stable society.
Thank you, Mr. Vice President.