High Court rejects appeal filed regarding ex-tourism minister's travel ban

Maldives’ High Court has rejected the appeal filed by the state regarding the lifting of the travel ban imposed on former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed. The appeal was rejected by the Registrar of the court on the grounds that the appeal was filed after the period for the submission appeal had expired when the appeal was submitted.

Ali Waheed departed to the United Kingdom for medical purposes after the Criminal Court lifted a travel ban issued against him. The court lifted the ban based on documents submitted at the court regarding his current medical condition. The Criminal Court’s order said Dr. Yusuf Shan had confirmed his health conditions, and that the state had not challenged the request to lift the travel ban. The order further said a guarantor had been produced to ensure Ali Waheed’s return. The order was issued by Judge Hasssan Saeed, and he is currently being probed by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

However, the Prosecutor General rejected the Criminal Court’s reasoning and said the order had not been issued according to procedure in allowing the former tourism minister to travel abroad. The case was thus appealed at the High Court on February 14th, but by then, 48 hours had passed since the expiration of the appeal period.

Questions have been raised regarding the date on which the initial Criminal Court order revoking the travel ban was issued. The Criminal Court document which was first issued had stated that the travel ban was lifted on the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office, which was incorrect. The revised document issued after that was dated February 10th. However, Ali left the country on 9th February.

Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem said a hearing was held, and the order was issued on February 9th, although the order was received by the Prosecutor General’s Office on 11th February. While the court order was dated 10th February, Ali had already left the country the day before, said the PG. The date stamped on the document regarding Ali Waheed's guarantor is February 9th.

Seven charges were raised against the former minister by the Prosector General’s Office regarding acts of sexual harassment that are said to have been committed by the minister during his time in office. The charges raised against Ali Waheed include inflicting sexual injury under Article 16 of Sexual Offences Act, attempted rape under Article 15 of the same act, indecent exposure under Section 132 of the Penal Code, sexual assault under Article 18 of the Sexual Offences Act, attempt to cause sexual assault under Article 19 of the Sexual Offences Act, and two counts of unlawful sexual conduct under section 412 and 81 of the Penal Code. The travel ban was issued against him in July 2020.