Update on the Current Situation in the Maldives (26/02/2018): State Of Emergency

1. Decree declaring the State of Emergency (2018/3) – 5 February 2018

a) Under Article 253 (State of Emergency) of the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives which allows the declaration of a State of Emergency, in all or part of the country, pertaining to an event of natural disaster, dangerous epidemic disease, war, threat to national security, or threatened foreign aggression, the State of Emergency, having no curfew, was declared for 15 days.

b) The State of Emergency was declared for 2 reasons:

– Under advice of the National Security Council for threat to National Security.

– Constitutional deadlock resulting in the State functioning out of the Constitutional boundaries.

c) The State of Emergency was imposed on individuals alleged to have carried out illegal activities and the places they resided in relating to the investigation of the crimes.

2. Under the State of Emergency, the following Articles of the Constitution were restricted:

1. Article 24
2. Article 29
3. Article 31
4. Article 32
5. Article 43
6. Article 44
7. Article 45
8. Article 46
9. Article 47
10. Article 49
11. Article 50
12. Article 56
13. Article 58
14. Article 65
15. Article 99
16. Article 100
17. Article 101
18. Article 113
19. Article 145 (c)
20. Article 228

a) The following legislations were also temporarily suspended:

1. Section 12 and section 14 of Act No. 13/2010 (Maldives Judges Act).

2. Act No. 12/2016 (Criminal Procedure Code).

3. 1st Amendment to the Decree declaring State of Emergency (2018/4) – 6 February 2018

a) Pursuant to the State of Emergency declared by Presidential Decree No.2018/3, an Amendment to the Decree (2018/4) was declared on 6 February 2018 and in addition to the temporary suspension of the operation of laws and the rights and freedoms restricted or limited by said Decree, the following Article and subsections of the Constitution was restricted:

Article 48(a), 48(c) and 48(d)

4. 2nd Amendment to the Decree declaring State of Emergency (2018/5) – 6 February 2018

a) In addition to the 1st Amendment to the Decree, a 2nd Amendment was made pursuant to the Constitutional, legal and regulatory issues, and the situation which arose in trying to enforce the Supreme Court Order No. 2018/SC-SJ/01.

b) The restriction imposed on Section (c) of Article 145 of the Constitution pursuant to the aforementioned Presidential Decree was lifted in this Amendment.

5. Submission of Decree with the Amendments to the Parliament – 7 February 2018

a) As obliged by Article 257 (a) of the Constitution, the President submitted the Decree declaring State of Emergency (2018/3) along with its consequent Amendments (2018/4 and 2018/5) to the Parliament on 7 February 2018.

d) Article 257 (a) of the Constitution states that,

“The declaration of a state of emergency shall be submitted to the People’s Majlis within forty eight hours. If the People’s Majlis is not in session at the time of the declaration, it shall be re-called within fourteen days, inclusive of holidays, and the declaration of a state of emergency submitted to the People’s Majlis for approval.”

6. Submission of request for the extension of Decree to the Parliament – 18 February 2018

a) The President submitted a request to the Parliament to obtain the approval of the People’s Majlis for the extension of the State of Emergency pursuant to Article 257 (c) of the Constitution.

Article 257 (c) of the Constitution states that,

“Where the President deems it necessary to extend the length of the state of emergency, he shall submit the extension to the People’s Majlis prior to the expiry of the state of emergency, and obtain the approval of the People’s Majlis for such extension.”

b) The President submitted this request to the Parliament on the basis that;

– The threat to national security has not diminished and the Constitutional crisis has not been resolved,

– A continued period of Emergency was advised by the National Security Council.

7. Special Session of Parliament – 19 February 2018

a) On 19 February 2018, the Parliament sat in a Special Session to table the issue of the State of Emergency mandated in Article 257 (a) of the Constitution.

Article 257 (a) of the Constitution states that,

“The declaration of a State of Emergency shall be submitted to the People’s Majlis within forty eight hours. If the People’s Majlis is not in session at the time of the declaration, it shall be re-called within fourteen days, inclusive of holidays, and the declaration of a State of Emergency submitted to the People’s Majlis for approval.”

8. Approval of Decree declaring State of Emergency by Parliament – 20 February 2018

a) By virtue of Article 257 (b) and (c), on 20 February 2018, the Parliament with 38 votes, among 41 Parliament Members in attendance, voted to give approval to the Presidential Decree of 5 February 2018 and its consequent Amendments to extend the State of Emergency and provide relief to some of the rights restricted under it on the basis that the State of Emergency will be imposed on individuals alleged to have carried out illegal activities and the places they resided in relating to the investigation of the crimes relating to 1st February 2018 as per the Decree.

– Article 257 (b) of the constitution states that,

“The People’s Majlis may at any time:

1. approve the declaration in whole or in part;
2. extend the operation of the declaration for periods not exceeding thirty days at a time; or
3. revoke the declaration.”

– Article 257 (c) of the Constitution states that,

“Where the President deems it necessary to extend the length of the state of emergency, he shall submit the extension to the People’s Majlis prior to the expiry of the state of emergency, and obtain the approval of the People’s Majlis for such extension.”

b) The Presidential Decree and its Amendments declaring the State of Emergency were extended by an additional 30 days by the Parliament.

c) The Parliament had decided on 20 February 2018, that in addition to approving and extending the State of Emergency, they would also lift restrictions on the following 4 Articles of the Constitution.
– Article 100
– Article 101
– Article 113
– Article 228

d) The Parliament also decided that the State of Emergency would be applicable on individuals alleged to have carried out illegal activities and the places they resided in relating to the investigation of the crimes relating to 1st February as per the Decree.

e) During the debate some Members of Parliament raised questions regarding the quorum necessary to take such a decision.

f) Article 87 (b) of the Constitution states that, any issue requiring the compliance of citizens requires a simple majority of the entire membership of Parliament.

g) The Parliamentary Rules of Procedure, states the circumstances that Article 87 (b) is in reference to, and the declaration of the State of Emergency is not included as a matter which requires compliance by citizens as per Section 38 of the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure.

Section 38 of the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure states that;

“As, it is mentioned in section 87(b) of the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives, voting on any matter requiring compliance by citizens shall only be undertaken when more than half of the total membership of the Parliament are present at the sitting at which the matter is vested upon. For the purpose of these Parliamentary Rules of Procedure, matters requiring compliance by citizens would be referred to the following:

i) Voting on a Bill (Statute) that obliges the citizens to act upon in a particular manner.
ii) Voting on a Bill (Statute) that imposes the citizens to act upon in a particular manner or not.
iii) Voting on a Bill (Statute) that requires citizens to spend any money.

iv) Voting on a Bill (Statute) that imposes taxes on citizens.
v) Voting on a Bill (Statute) that holds a citizen liable depending on the commission of an act or not.
vi) Voting on a Bill (Statute) regarding personal liability of citizens.”

h) Hence, the session of Parliament approving and extending the State of Emergency proceeded under the understanding that the quorum needed to pass the Presidential Decree and their consequent Amendments were guided by Article 86 of the Constitution, which stipulates that only 25% of the total membership would constitute quorum; and

i) The Parliament decided to seek Advisory Opinion of the Supreme Court, on the matter of voting Quorum (Article 87 (b)) of the Constitution vis-a-vis Section 38 of the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure and as per the provisions provided to them under Article 95 of the Constitution mandating them to do so.

e) Article 95 of the Constitution states that,

“The People’s Majlis may by resolution refer to the Supreme Court for hearing and consideration important questions of law concerning any matter, including the interpretation of the Constitution and the Constitutional validity of any statute. The Supreme Court shall answer the questions so referred and shall provide the answers to the People’s Majlis, giving reasons for its answers. The opinion shall be pronounced in like manner as in the case of a judgement on appeal to the Supreme Court.”

9. Submission of case by Attorney General to the Supreme Court – 21 February 2018

On 20 February 2018, pursuant to the Parliament’s decision to seek Advisory Opinion of the Supreme Court, the Attorney General (representing the Parliament) submitted its case to the Supreme Court on 21 February 2018.

10. Issuance of Temporary Order by Supreme Court – 21 February 2018

a) On 21 February 2018, the Supreme Court issued a temporary Order in reference to Article 141, Article 144(b) and Article 145(c) of the

Constitution of the Republic of Maldives, ordering the Parliament and the relevant State authorities to act upon the Parliament’s resolutions approving and extending the Presidential Decree (Decree No: 2018/3), inclusive of the Amendments, by 30 days implementing a State of Emergency in the Maldives.

– Article 144(b), of the Constitution states that, when deciding a constitutional matter within its jurisdiction, a court:

“may in connection with a declaration issue any order that is just and equitable, including:

i) An order providing just compensation for any damage sustained by any person or group of persons due to any statute, regulation or action that is inconsistent with the Constitution; or

ii) An order suspending the declaration of invalidity (of a statute, regulation or action due to inconsistency with the Constitution) for any period and on any conditions, to allow the competent authority to correct the defect:”

f) Article 145(c), of the Constitution states that,

“The Supreme Court shall be the final authority on the interpretation of the Constitution, the law, or any other matter dealt with by a court of law.”

Statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: The Government of Maldives sends response to the Council of the European Union’s Conclusions on Maldives

Ministry of Foreign Affairs has responded to the conclusions issued by the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union, regarding the Maldives.

The statement reads;

“The Government of Maldives notes the conclusions issued by the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union today”.

“As reiterated in a number of public statements and conveyed to the Ambassador of the European Union to the Maldives, the Government of Maldives remains firmly committed to upholding the Constitution and the rule of law. The State of Emergency declared on 5 February 2018 was extended for further thirty days by the Parliament due to the threats posed to national security following the Supreme Court Order No. 2018/SC-SJ/01, issued on 1 February 2018, following which the State found itself facing a Constitutional deadlock. It should be noted that the Supreme Court Order of 1 February 2018 was nullified, in part, by the Supreme Court by its Court Order no 2018/SC-SJ/03, issued on 6 February 2018. Other parts of it were suspended by its Court Order No 2018/SC-VA-J/01 issued on 18 February 2018. Therefore, there is now no legal mandate to implement the Supreme Court Order of 1 February 2018”.

“In its decision to extend the State of Emergency on 20 February 2018, the Parliament lifted some of the restrictions imposed on the Constitutional Articles under the State of Emergency and declared the State of Emergency to be applied only to individuals alleged to have carried out illegal activities in connection to the Supreme Court Verdict of 1 February 2018. The measures taken by the Government was to ensure national security and Constitutional order, to uphold the rule of law and to safeguard the peace and stability of the nation. The Government will ensure that the State of Emergency is lifted as soon as the threats posed to national security are addressed satisfactorily”.

“The Government reiterates its unwavering commitment to ensuring the safety and security of foreign nationals residing in the country, as well as tourists visiting the Maldives on vacation”.

“The Government is committed to resolving the current situation and has invited all Political Parties for dialogue. The Government of Maldives appreciates the European Union for standing with the Maldives during this difficult period and calls to help facilitate the ongoing efforts to resolve the current Constitutional Crisis, and to return to normalcy. The Government of Maldives will continue to work with the European Union and its member countries and appreciates the continued support and cooperation that the European Union is continuing to extend in strengthening the electoral, governance and democratic structures and framework”.

“The Government has welcomed the initiative of the Election’s Commission to begin preparations for this year’s Presidential election, and is engaged to ensure a fair and stable environment for the conduct of those elections. The Maldives looks forward to having a free, fair and credible Presidential election in September of this year, and requests the support and guidance of all relevant stakeholders”.

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, on 5 February 2018, declared a State of Emergency by Presidential Decree No. 2018/3, under Article 253 of the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives.

As per the Presidential Decree, the State of Emergency was enforced in order to protect the peace and wellbeing of all citizens, and the country, and to facilitate investigations following the events that unfolded in relation to the Supreme Court Order No. SC-SJ/01/2018, issued on 1 February 2018, which resulted in the disruption of the functions of the executive power and the State institutions vested with specific mandates under the Constitution, the infringement of national security and public interest, and if implemented, would potentially lead to an undermining of the supremacy of the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives.

Despite the declaration of the state of emergency, there will be no enforcement of a curfew; and general movements, services and businesses will not be affected.

Link to Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ statement

Update on the Current Situation in the Maldives (26/02/2018): Ministers of Education and Gender Attended the Opening of the UN Human Rights Council

Minister Aishath Shiham, heading the Maldives delegation to the 37th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), attended the opening Session today, accompanied by Ambassador Hala Hameed and Minister Zenysha Zaki. These Ministers for Education and for Gender and Family respectively, will be attending the High Level Segment of the HRC session, meeting other high-level dignitaries and taking part in numerous events relating to the promotion and protection of human rights.

Minister Shiham will deliver a statement on behalf of the Maldives at the HRC at 1:50PM (Maldives Time) tomorrow, 27 February 2018. She is expected to highlight the gains the Maldives has made in delivering economic, social and cultural rights to Maldivian citizens. The Maldives has been and continues to be an active advocate of human rights in the international community, continually speaking up on issues like the rights of small states and vulnerable populations.

The Maldives will be active in negotiations on resolutions that deal with the human rights situations in Syria and Palestine, as well as on the rights of children, persons with disabilities and the environment, among others.

The Maldives is being represented by two Ministers in Geneva at a difficult time in Maldives political history. In the midst of a Constitutional crisis, the Maldives has had to take difficult steps to safeguard the Constitution and ensure that civil and political rights are preserved for present and future generations. The Government of the Maldives has welcomed the announcement by the Elections Commission of the Maldives to hold Presidential elections in September this year, and has committed to ensuring a fair and safe environment for the conduct of these elections. Further, the Government expresses the hope that all relevant stakeholders will lend their support and cooperation to ensuring an election that is free, fair and credible, and refrain from statements and actions that can further escalate the situation.

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, on 5 February 2018, declared a State of Emergency by Presidential Decree No. 2018/3, under Article 253 of the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives.

As per the Presidential Decree, the State of Emergency was enforced in order to protect the peace and wellbeing of all citizens, and the country, and to facilitate investigations following the events that unfolded in relation to the Supreme Court Order No. SC-SJ/01/2018, issued on 1 February 2018, which resulted in the disruption of the functions of the executive power and the State institutions vested with specific mandates under the Constitution, the infringement of national security and public interest, and if implemented, would potentially lead to an undermining of the supremacy of the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives.

Despite the declaration of the state of emergency, there will be no enforcement of a curfew; and general movements, services and businesses will not be affected.

Update on the Current Situation in the Maldives (26/02/2018): Advisory Opinion Issued to the Parliament by the Supreme Court Today

Advisory Opinion Issued to the Parliament by the Supreme Court Today

The Supreme Court today issued an advisory opinion to the Parliament upon their request. The Parliament asked the Supreme Court to issue the opinion in relation to questions arising as to what quorum was necessary when it convened at its Second Special Session on 20 February 2018, to approve and extend the declaration of a State of Emergency issued on 5 February 2018 and its subsequent amendments. The Parliament is empowered to seek such advisory opinions by Article 95 of the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives.

The Supreme Court decided that the Parliamentary quorum needed at the sitting in question was 25% of the total membership of Parliament, as per Article 86 of the Constitution. Though Article 87(b) creates an exception to this rule for matters requiring compliance by citizens, the Supreme Court decided that Article 87(b) did not apply.

The Supreme Court decided the question raised, in light of Section 38 of the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure, which elaborates on Article 87 (b) and defines matters requiring compliance by the citizens as follows:

(a) Voting on a Bill (Statute) that obliges the citizens to obey in a certain manner;
(b) Voting on a Bill (Statute) that imposes the citizens to act upon in a particular manner or not;
(c) Voting on a Bill (Statute) that requires citizens to spend any money;
(d) Voting on a Bill (Statute) that imposes taxes on citizens;
(e) Voting on a Bill (Statute) that holds a citizen liable depending on the commission of an act or not; or
(f) Voting on a Bill (Statute) regarding personal liability of citizens.

The Supreme Court reaffirmed that Article 87(b) of the Constitution was not applicable, and that it is not constitutionally necessary for more than half of the total membership of the Parliament to be present at the sitting. As the Quorum stated in Article 86 of the Constitution was met during the Special Session of the Parliament, the Decision made on the Special Session held on 20th February 2018 at the Parliament, assenting the Decree declaring State of Emergency and extending the Decree by 30 days was valid.

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, on 5 February 2018, declared a State of Emergency by Presidential Decree No. 2018/3, under Article 253 of the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives.

As per the Presidential Decree, the State of Emergency was enforced in order to protect the peace and wellbeing of all citizens, and the country, and to facilitate investigations following the events that unfolded in relation to the Supreme Court Order No. SC-SJ/01/2018, issued on 1 February 2018, which resulted in the disruption of the functions of the executive power and the State institutions vested with specific mandates under the Constitution, the infringement of national security and public interest, and if implemented, would potentially lead to an undermining of the supremacy of the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives.

Despite the declaration of the state of emergency, there will be no enforcement of a curfew; and general movements, services and businesses will not be affected.

Government welcomes Elections Commission’s Commencement of work for Presidential Elections

February 22, 2018

In a statement issued this evening, the Government of Maldives warmly welcomed the announcement of the Elections Commission’s decision to begin preparations for the Presidential Elections to be held this year. The Government took note of its announcement to hold the first round of Presidential elections during early September and encouraged all relevant stakeholders to offer the Commission their full, unreserved support for the conduct of their work.

It is noted in the statement that free, fair and credible elections are the foundation of our democracy and that it is essential for continuity of our nation’s growth, stability and prosperity.

The Government of Maldives extends its invitation to all international stakeholders to observe the electoral process; and at the same time urges the international community to provide support and assistance in bringing back normalcy in the Maldives, and requests the international community to refrain from any actions that could hinder resolving the situation the country is facing.

In the statement, the Maldivian Government reiterated its commitment to provide a free and stable environment to carry out campaigns which will lead up to this year’s Presidential Elections and reaffirmed hopes that all relevant stakeholders extends their support to this endeavour.

It is underscored in the statement that all elections after the ratification of the Constitution were accepted to be fair and free by all parties, and that the Government recommends all political parties and politicians alike to work towards making the upcoming elections free and fair, rather than engage in a battle to topple the Government and to destabilize the nation.