Thank you Mr President,

The Republic of Maldives takes note of the joint statement on the Maldives, initiated by the UK, and supported by some other countries.

We acknowledge the concerns expressed under this agenda item 2. However, it is the position of the Government of Maldives that the joint statement is unwarranted, misrepresenting the reality in the Maldives and unduly attempting to affect domestic politics in the country.

Mr President,

Guaranteeing human rights requires constant vigilance and effort, with multiple challenges for a small country with limited resources like the Maldives.

Similar issues are faced by other nations as well. For instance, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association on his follow-up mission to the UK has noted “with concern that a series of separate measures by the Government, have negatively impacted the exercise of the rights to freedom of association and freedom of peaceful assembly, and in general, are resulting in the closing of space for civil society.” Most importantly, the SR noted that it is “imperative that the same standards on civil society space that the Government calls for internationally are implemented domestically.”

The Maldives expresses concern that the UK’s official statistics in June and September showed a 57% spike in reporting of hate crime following the EU membership referendum.

Mr President,

With regards to the focus of this joint statement, a young charismatic blogger, Mr Yameen Rasheed, was brutally slain before he had even reached his prime, this past April. Being a nation where willful murder is relatively uncommon, this event shocked the country’s collective social conscience. His Excellency Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, President of the Republic of Maldives, noted that, and I quote; “in his death we have lost a young energetic, voice full of potential that contributed heavily, and responsibly, to the social and political discourse of our nation. He was … everything the youth of this nation should aspire to be and more.” To date, the Maldives Police Service, with the full support of the Government have led a comprehensive investigation, arresting all those suspected of involvement in the crime.

The politicization of this young man’s tragic death, and its subsequent relation to an alleged narrowing of democratic space is of great concern. Links that do not exist are being drawn. This joint statement further misrepresents the Maldives consistent position and efforts since 2006 to cooperate fully with all special procedures. Human Rights is enshrined in our Constitution, and its ideals are pervasive throughout our institutions. The complete lack of recognition for commendable initiatives to strengthen democratic governance is worrying.

Mr President,

Given only three working days provided for any consultation or consideration of this statement, there has been only a token effort at being constructive, and it is tantamount to a small nation being targeted by a large one. Taking note of the comments, the Government of the Maldives will continue to work towards guaranteeing fundamental human rights and democratic reform.

Mr. President,

Human rights violations irrespective of where it occurs should be a concern at this Council. We only ask to be measured by the same benchmark, for a little bit more patience, encouragement and effective support from our multilateral partners.

Thank you.