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Judiciary Hijacked: Lawyers and former senior Judges voice concern on current political influence on the judiciary

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A group of lawyers and former senior judges has held a press conference to voice their concerns on the political influence on the judiciary by the current administration. The press conference was joined by former High Court Chief Judge Shujau Usman, former Criminal Court Judge Hassan Najeeb, Uz Moosa Fathuhee and several other notable lawyers. Several allegations were made against the President’s Office Chief of Staff Ali Zahir, who was accused of offering inducements and influencing the judiciary under orders from incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

Speaking at the press conference, the former Chief Judge of the High Court of Maldives, Shujau Usman stated that the current level of political influence on the judiciary is unprecedented and that the level of influence on the judiciary is unmatched even when compared to when the judiciary was under the Ministry of Justice under former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s 30 yearlong administration.

He also asserted that while President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih pledged to reform the judiciary and to amend the current composition of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and his administration has since day one, attempted to instill political influence on the judiciary. He stated that it is evident by the fact that the Judicial Administration Department was promptly brought under the control of the JSC.

He also noted that he had granted bail to MP Qasim Ibrahim and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom after discussion with the High Court judges, but former President Yameen Abdul Gayoom was not granted bail by the very same High Court Judges who cited that “the Maldivian jurisprudence does not have the concept of bail”.

Former Judge Shujau Usman revealed that he resigned due to mounting political pressure from key members of the current administration and the lack of freedom to function freely and fairly within the judiciary.

“I am convinced that there is immense political influence within the judiciary” ~ former Chief Judge of High Court Shujau Usman.

Former High Court Chief Judge Shujau Usman also addressed the recently leaked audio tapes of the Judges from the Criminal Court of Maldives. He stated that he had worked with Ali Adam since the early 1990’s. Judge Shujau Usman affirmed that he has known Judge Ali Adam for more than 22 years and that the voice heard in the audio is undeniably Judge Ali Adam’s. He also stated that he has known Judge Mohamed Sameer since they were classmates at the age of 13-14 years, and that it was definitely Judge Moahmed Sameer’s voice heard in the third leaked audio.

The leaked audio’s referred to by Judge Shujau Usman involves three of the five judges who presided over former President Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s case in the Criminal Court. They stated that they were “held hostage” and offered inducements by the President’s Office Chief of Staff Ali Zahir and President’s Legal Counsel   Ahmed Abdulla Afeef to pass a guilty verdict against the former President Yameen Abdul Gayoom. Judge Ali Adam was heard saying in the audio that he and the rest of the judges were not even aware of what was written on the verdict and that it was all done by Judge Ali Rasheed who was promptly promoted to the Supreme Court of Maldives.

Former High Court Chief Judge Shujau Usman also made the startling revelation that the President’s Office Chief of Staff Ali Zahir had called him multiple times, urging him to pass verdicts according to President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s instructions. The former Judge also stated that he once threw his phone out in anger after receiving multiple calls from President’s Office Chief of Staff Ali Zahir.

Former Criminal Court Judge Hassan Najeeb also spoke at the press conference. He stated that he had seen up close of what transpired behind the scenes at the Criminal Court regarding former President Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s case.

“The verdict passed on former Presidnet Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom is unjust. This is a former President who has completed a five year term. If he cannot get justice, then the public has no chance either.” ~ Former Criminal Court Judge Hassan Najeeb.

He stated that while Judge Ahmed Hailam was initially presiding over former President Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s case, Judge Ahmed Hailam came into his cabin and talked regarding several matters. Judge Hassan Najeeb stated that he told Judge Ahmed Hailam that he had heard ruling party activist Husnu Al-Suood would be appointed to the Supreme Court.

Judge Hassan Najeeb revealed that Judge Ahmed Hailam then called President’s Office Chief of Staff Ali Zahir, referring to the latter by his nickname “Alipi”.

Judge Ahmed Hailam then allegedly asked “what is this? Is Husnu Al-Suood going to get appointed to the Supreme Court?”, to which President’s Office Chief of Staff Ali Zahir replied “ Don’t worry, you are guaranteed a seat on the Supreme Court bench as per our agreement”.

Former Criminal Court Judge Hassan Najeeb noted that such blatant inducements are symptoms of the current political influence on the judiciary, declaring that the current ruling coalition has the “judiciary hijacked”.

He also recounted on how his then junior Judge Ali Rasheed had once told him that “he shakes with anger when he sees the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge and the Dharumavantha Hospital”, and that he “Hates the infrastructural developments brought about during President Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s regime citing grounds of alleged corruption”.

Judge Hassan Najeeb then posed question on how such a biased individual can pass a free and fair verdict against the former President.

The press conference also saw the lawyers raising concern over the current situation faced by the judiciary. They stated that lawyers belonging to the law firms of JSC President MP Hisaan Hussein, PG Hussain Shameem and AG Ibrahim Riffath are threatening their clients by stating that “it’s our government, it’s our courts “and that the client will not win the case unless they represent the client at the courts.

They also stated that they are ready to give their testimony at a court of law to back up the statements they made at the press conference.

While the current administration or the Judicial Service Commission has not retorted to any of the allegations made at the press conference, public outrage has poured out against the current administration. Many are calling or the immediate resignation of the Adhaalath backed President’s Office Chief of Staff Ali Zahir and allegedly compromised judges and the members of the JSC.

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Professor Ugail has said that the Hiyaa Flats must be given at affordable rates.

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Professor Ugail has expressed discontent with that raise in the prices of the Hiyaa Flats which was constructed under the presidency of Former President Yaameen Abdul Gayyoom.

In a recent tweet, professor Ugail has said that the Maldivian citizens shouldn’t be caught in between a competitive rally between the former and current governments. He has further said that the flats must be given out at the rates which were set during the Hiyaa Flat project planning. The flats should be given to the citizens with the required facilities, with safety in place and affordable rates.

 

Starting July 14th, the keys of the 7000 Hiyaa Flats are being handed out. To this point, 5519 people have signed the agreement to take ownership of the flats. The current government has decided that the monthly rate of the flats would be 7500 Maldivian rufiyaa. An additional 1000 rufiyaa will be taken as a management fee as well. This is 3000 rufiyaa more than what was decided during Former President Yaameen Abdul Qayoom’s term.

Hiyaa Flat Union has requested the government and HDC to lower the monthly rates of the flat. However, they have been repeatedly let down by saying that the rates cannot be decreased.

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“284 thousand foreigners have jobs in Maldives” – Economic minister.

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Economic minister Fayaz Ismail has stated that there are 284 thousand foreigners in Maldivian jobs.

Speaking at the Parliament regarding the number of foreigners in the Maldives, Fayaz Ismail noted that, from the statistics collected by the economic ministry there are 281000 foreigners live in the Maldives, of which 63754 hail from Bangladesh.

Minister Fayaz noted that including last year and this year, a total of 3000 foreigners have left their jobs and gone back to their country and that from 2019-2021 the government had released 11113 permits to bring Bangladesh workers to the Maldives. A number of Parliament members had shared their concerns regarding the increase in Bangladesh workers in the Maldives.

In the three years of this government, there have been countless jobs given to Indians. Minister Fayaz had not publicized the number of jobs that the government has given to Indians in the past three years.

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Discussions about advertising Maldivian guest houses in India by an Indian ambassador.

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Indians appointed ambassador for Maldives Sanjay Sudhir and Guest House Association of Maldives (GAM) discussed about advertising Maldivian guest houses in India to bring in more tourists.

Vice president of GAM Abdul Sameeu stated that in the discussions held in the Indian embassy in the Maldives, the ambassador had stated that they will give their support in advertising Maldivian guest houses to tourists in order to help GAM in their efforts. They had further stated that they will meet with Indian agents and guest house owners and discuss about this and help with the branding of GAM, as well as giving training to Maldivian guest houses room boys to managerial positions from Indian Institutes.

Abdul Sameeu further stated that there were discussions to get the support of the Indian high commission to collaborate on fairs and expos held there. Under GAM’s branding, there will be expos, fairs, award ceremonies, magazines, and a website. Abdul Sameeu informed that the Indian ambassador had stated that the Indian high commission will be giving their support for these endeavors.

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