Maldives controversy: Women appointed to senior posts

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Over the last two days, Maldivian civil society has been in uproar over Parliament’s refusal to ratify the President’s appointment of women to the posts of President and Vice-President of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives.

Report in Haveeru Online, August 31, 2010, translated for us from Dhivehi:

MPs have expressed concern over the fact that no man was nominated by the President to the two senior most positions in the Human Rights Commission of Maldives.  Many MPs spoke about the importance of appointed men to these posts.  Most criticised the President’s decision to appoint the President and the Vice-President to HRCM before the Parliament completed giving their consent to the full quota of 5 members. (Translator’s note: Previously Parliament approved 3 members and rejected all the other names. So the President had to submit more names again for the parliament to give their consent to the remaining two positions)

Republican Party leader Gasim Ibrahim claimed that he would not give consent to the names for the President and Vice-President because President decided on them before the Parliament approved the last two members. Other MPs spoke about their concern that the two names were women (irrespective of the fact that the parliamentary committee which analysed the suitability of the ladies to these positions decided that they were indeed suitable for the positions) and one questioned whether it wasn’t against ‘human rights’ to have two women at the top position. The two ladies whose name President Nasheed sent to the parliament for their consent to the two top position have both served as members of the Human Rights Commission in the past.

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Maldives’ civil society is young and vocal, as is typical in countries where a democratic transition has taken place.

Their reaction, today, took the form of a joint press statement signed by Maldivian Democracy Network, Maldives NGO Federation, Maldivian Network on Violence Against Women, Transparency Maldives, Democracy House, Madulu, Strength of Society, Huvadhoo Aid, Maldives Youth Action Network.

Press Release: Appointment of President and Vice-President to the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, 2nd September 2010.

Report in Haveeru Online.

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JJ Robinson, Parliament’s paralysing of HRCM is “unforgivable”: Saleem, Minivan News, September 2, 2010.

“Parliament’s failure to approve a President and Vice President of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) before going into recess has left the country without a functional human rights body, according to former HRCM President Ahmed Saleem.

““Because of the irresponsible behaviour of the Majlis, the three member commission sworn in on August 17 is now defunct,” Saleem claimed.

“The required quota of commission members is five.

““Two new members are still to be sworn in and there is no President or Vice President to preside over the meetings, which must be held at least once a month according to HRCM’s regulations,” Saleem explained.

““What the Majlis has done to HRCM is unforgivable, and it’s all because HRCM and human rights are not as important to the Majlis as taking their leave,” he said.

““The Majlis is destroying this country and leaving the government incapable of doing anything.”

“Saleem’s concerns about HRCM were echoed by a coalition of local human rights NGOs, including the Maldivian Democracy Network, Maldives NGO Federation,Transparency Maldives and Democracy House.”

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