Statement by Mr. Ahmed Sareer, Vice-Chairman of the Maldives Delegation, at UNGA Third Committee on Agenda Item 70; “Promotion and protection of Human Rights: (b) Human Rights Questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, (c) Human rights situation and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives and (e) Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities”, 30 October 2007.
Let me join the previous speakers in congratulating you and the members of the Bureau on your election to steer the work of the Committee. My delegation is fully confident that under your able leadership the work of the Committee will come to a successful conclusion.
The Government of Maldives welcomes constructive suggestions and recommendations given by Special Rapporteur for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Dr. Leandro Despouy pursuant to his visit to the Maldives in February 2007. The visit and recommendations come at a time when Maldives is taking significant strides towards strengthening its legal and judicial sector as part of the Government’s Reform Agenda. The Reform Agenda is bringing in wide-ranging change to the constitutional, democratic, legal and human rights framework of the country. The establishment of an efficient, independent and fair judicial system on par with international norms and standards is a vital part of the Reform Agenda. These include specific areas such as criminal procedure, police powers, use of evidence in court and juvenile justice. The Government would like to note that significant steps taken towards reform of the judiciary include the drafting and submission to parliament of the Penal Code, a Sentencing Bill, a Criminal Procedure Code and a Police Bill. The draft bills take into consideration the spirit and provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to which Maldives acceded to last year. Further, a Judicial Service Commission has been established by Executive Decree. The Government is also undertaking initiatives for capacity building and training of judges and lawyers. Maldives has also recently appointed the first ever women judges in the country. Removing the gender bar in the appointment of judges to the bench was one of the recommendations made by Dr. Despouy. The Maldives is committed to implementing the recommendations made by Dr. Despouy in order to strengthen and make independent the judiciary and legislature of the Maldives.
In this process the Government of Maldives wishes to highlight that it is committed to the international legal regime and is working with the international human rights mechanism including the UN Special Procedures.
The Maldives has recently signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Although our obligations under the other major human rights instruments are closely synonymous with the Convention’s provisions, Government’s decision to sign the treaty has added a new dimension to human rights protection in the Maldives. The Government realizes that signing international treaties should be backed by effective implementation. Hence, the Government of Maldives is already in the process of finalizing a National Policy on Disability, the provisions of which reflect the obligations laid down by the Disabilities Convention.
Further, the Government of Maldives is also working with the National Human Rights Advisor who was deputed to the Maldives by the OHCHR on the Government’s request.
The Government of Maldives would like to reiterate its continued commitment to the reform process. Due consideration is being given to the recommendations and support offered by the Special Rapporteur for strengthening the independence of judges and lawyers in the Maldives.
My Delegation appreciates the bold step taken by the United Nations Security Council for convening in April this year the first ever debate on climate change, based on the premise that global warming poses a threat to human security. Similarly, the Maldives is grateful to the UN Secretary-General for convening a high level segment on climate change at the beginning of the UNGA this year. My Foreign Minister has also called on the Human Rights Council to convene at the earliest, a debate on human rights and climate change.
The Maldives believes that global warming also has clear human rights implications including with respect to the right to self determination, the right to take part in cultural life, the right to use and enjoy property, the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to water, the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, the right to development and even the right to life itself.
With these views in mind, my Delegation is looking at ways, as we approach the Bali meeting in December, to raise the issue of human dimension of the environmental degradation. To address these issues, the Maldives will be hosting next month, a Small Island States conference on “The Human Dimension of Climate Change”.
Before I conclude, may I reiterate my Delegation’s firm commitment to work closely with the UN bodies towards strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights in the Maldives.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.