Thank you Mr Chairman,
The Republic of Maldives would like to express its appreciation to the Special Rapporteur Mr Maina Kiai for his report on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. The Maldives was at the forefront of the effort to create this mandate through the Human Rights Council in Geneva in 2010, and is honoured by the work of the Special Rapporteur in justifying this effort.
In addition to supporting this mandate, the Maldives remains steadfast in its commitment to supporting the right to assembly, association, and even protest. Protected by our Constitution, supported by law, and given our democratic transition, it has become common for political parties to exercise their right to protest, and therefore it has been the Government’s responsibility to ensure peaceful assembly is protected. To this effect, the Government has taken a dual approach of supporting both governmental and non-governmental mechanisms for dialogue amongst parties, as well as strengthening oversight over our security forces. With regards to external oversight, the Government has supported strengthening independent authorities such as the Police Integrity Commission and the Human Rights Commission. Further, the Government has also emphasized stronger internal oversight mechanisms. This includes providing enhanced access to media, placing identifiable badges on all police officers, including those in riot gear, and ensuring strict adherence to operational protocols.
In his report, the Special Rapporteur made reference to political parties enjoying a level playing field with regards to funding as well as the exercising of other rights. While the legislation in Maldives does provide a level playing field with regards to State provided resources, outside of this, we currently have no domestic campaign finance restrictions or oversight. Is it possible for political parties to equally exercise their right to expression and assembly without these safeguards?
I thank you Mr Chairman