EU urges Maldives to release emergency detainees

European Union on Friday has urged the Maldivian government to release all detainees apprehended under the state of emergency - which ended on Thursday, March 22.

The statement was made through a Twitter handle as it had urged the Maldives state to "release all political prisoners, including those detained under Emergency regulations" and also added the government should "stop interfering in the work of the Majlis and the judiciary."

In a thread the unofficial handle "EU to the Maldives" it had said the island nation's first step immediately after lifting the emergency should be "restoring all constitutionally guaranteed rights, including respect for the rule of law, and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of expression and the right to fair trial."

Earlier expressing its grave concern over the worsening political crisis in the Maldives, the European Parliament through a resolution on Thursday (March 15) asked the EU council to impose targeted sanctions against key officials of the Maldives government and supporters in the local business community.

In a 11-point resolution introduced and passed unanimously on Thursday, the EU Parliament called on the EU "to make full use of all instruments at its disposal to promote respect for human rights and democratic principles in the Maldives, including, possibly, the suspension of EU financial assistance to the country pending the resumption of the rule of law and abidance by democratic principles."

The resolution also called on the EU council to introduce targeted measures and sanctions against those undermining human rights and to freeze the assets abroad of certain members of the Maldivian Government and their leading supporters in the Maldivian business community, whilst imposing travel bans on them.

It further called on the Maldives government to engage with the leaders of the opposition in a genuine dialogue that paves the way for credible, transparent and inclusive presidential elections scheduled for later this year and welcomes the Council’s offer to support UN facilitation of such a dialogue.

Noting that the Maldives remain at the centre of a geopolitical showdown between India and China, the EU parliament had also urged the governments of India and China to show restraint and work with EU countries to help deliver political and democratic stability in the Maldives.

While the European Union had urged Maldives government to release the detainees arrested under the emergency, the government had remanded key opposition leaders until the conclusion of their trials - who are mainly tried for the direct involvement in attempting to overthrow current government.

Former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, along with Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and top-court judge Ali Hameed are tried with attempting to overthrow government and influencing government entities to coerce favorable outcomes.

Judicial Administrator Hassan Saeed is also under trial for similar charges while he is also alleged to have accepted bribery.

The arrested political leaders include four lawmakers out of which three defected from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM; they include Ahmed Faris Maumoon - Dhiggaru MP, Abdulla Sinan - south-Machchangolhi and Ilham Ahmed - Dhan'gethi MP as well as Abdulla Riyaz, who apart from being a lawmaker also holds responsibility as deputy of Jumhoory Party.

Others in authority detention until their cases are finished include Ibrahim Siyad, son of business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim, former commissioner of police Ahmed Areef and former president Gayoom's son-in-law Ahmed Nadheem.