Climate Governance Integrity an Article for Transparency Maldives

Since I became President, one of my key priorities for securing the future of the Maldives is combating the very real challenge of climate change and its effect on our nation. Climate change threatens our sustainable developmental aspirations, our principal economic sectors – tourism and fisheries, our fragile ecosystems and the very existence of our country itself.

While Maldives contributes to less than 0.01% to the global emission of greenhouse gases, we are at the frontline of the predicted impacts of climate change and sea level rise. Our tourist resorts, which on average are positioned approximately 1.5m above mean sea level, are already experiencing environmental damage, due to climate change-related trends and effects. In addition, initial impacts are already being felt on coastal infrastructure, fisheries, water resources, agriculture and human health.

The Maldivian economy has been impacted by natural disaster before, as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami brought on an estimated direct loss of about US$298 million and total damages amounting to over US$470 million . The largest indirect losses occurred in the tourism sector due to the sharp decline in tourist arrivals following the incident.

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NYTimes Article A Conversation With: Maldives President Mohammed Waheed Hassan

Mohammed Waheed Hassan, president of the Maldives, concluded a five-day state visit to India last week, his first since taking over in February after Mohamed Nasheed, the country’s first democratically elected leader, stepped down. Mr. Nasheed said he was forced to leave in a coup that was orchestrated by loyalists to Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the former dictator.

During his visit to India, Mr. Hassan rejected calls from Mr. Nasheed and others for early elections, saying that under the constitution, the next elections in Maldives could not be held earlier than July 2013.

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President meets the US Congressional Staff Delegation

US congressional delegation in Maldives

US congressional delegation in Maldives

President Dr Mohamed Waheed has today met with the United States Congressional Staff delegation.

During the meeting held at the President’s Office this morning, the President highlighted the close and long existing relations between the two countries. He also expressed his gratitude to the continuous support offered to the Maldives by the US in the international forums.

The President further briefed the visiting delegation on the recent events that took place in the Maldives, and gave them an update on the progress made in resolving the political challenges. President Waheed also assured that the government was fully committed to upholding the Constitution and the rule of law.

Message to the People

During this dangerous situation facing the nation it is my duty to say a few words. I support the peaceful efforts of a large number of Maldivians trying to protect the Maldives constitution and religion. At this time I call upon all the institutions especially law enforcement agencies (the military) to uphold the constitution and the laws of the country. Refrain from obeying unconstitutional and illegal instructions. During this difficult time no chance should be given to anyone trying to hurt the people of our country or damage their property, especially no room should be afforded to those who would damage news agencies and media.  I am saddened that VTV and other places in Male’ have been attacked. I call on those who are involved in this to immediately cease all such activities. As your Vice President I am prepared to do anything possible to overcome this situation.

FREEDOM FROM FEAR: ARE WE ABOUT TO LOSE IT?

I am truly shocked by the trivial manner in which some of our educated people, especially among the youth, are taking the issue of freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. The case of the Criminal Court Judge becomes important  in the first place not because he is a judge nor because he belongs to the criminal court. First and foremost he is a Maldivian citizen like all of us. The most important and most precious dividend from the democracy struggle in Maldives has been freedom from fear. It is the knowledge that no one of us will be dragged out of our beds in the middle of the night and taken to an undisclosed location. The moment we deny this freedom from one person, we deny that freedom for all.

In the aftermath of the World Wars and formation of the United Nations, the international community agreed that freedom of nations depended on the freedom of the individual. Since 1945, there has been a concerted effort by the international community to develop a comprehensive body of international human rights law. The most fundamental human right is the right to personal liberty. and one significant aspect of personal liberty is freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 in its Article 3 states that “everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person. In Article 9 it states that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile”. Similarly, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that “everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.”

Maldives signed the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its Optional Protocol on 16 December 1966. Similarly, we signed the International Covenant for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance on 20 December 2006.

Besides all the international legal obligations, the Government of Maldives is bound by the Maldives Constitution 2008 which prohibits arbitrary arrest and forced disappearance. We have just witnessed the first possible violation since the dawn of democracy in our country. I cannot understand why this is not an issue for everyone in this country.

Those of us who have struggled for freedom in this country for over 30 years, are wondering whether we have wasted our efforts. I have expressed my reservations about the way the Government has allowed the disappearance of a citizen, a Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, for the reasons I mention above. I am ashamed and totally devastated by the fact that this is happening in a government in which I am the elected the Vice President.