LAWASIA on fact finding mission in Maldives, detained and deported

Members of LAWASIA who had arrived in the Maldives for an independent fact finding mission on the state of the judiciary and rule of law in the country, had been detained and thereafter deported at the Velana International Airport in Maldives.

LAWASIA is the law association for Asia and the Pacific and its Council comprises of the peak national bar associations and law societies in the United Nations ESCAP Region.

LAWASIA, President Christopher Leong issuing a statement to the media, stated that though the Government of Maldives had issued a statement on February 7 stating that “Maldives would like to invite its development partners and representatives from international organisations and associations to visit the Maldives to assess the situation in the Maldives and witness the safety and security of Male, for their own citizens as well as to engage with the Government and key stakeholders in the country,” when LAWASIA had contacted them for a visa, there had not been a positive response from government authorities. Their team had secured several appointments with stakeholders for their fact finding mission which was to be held from February 24 - 28.

“Four members of the fact-finding team arrived at the Velana International Airport in Maldives in the evening of February 25, 2018. Each had declared the purpose of the visit upon arrival. Instead of providing guidance and facilitating the mission with a visa as would have been consistent with the open invitation issued by the Government of Maldives to international organisations, the Maldivian authorities had instead, refused entry to the members of the team, detained and kept them at a closed detention facility under guard and surveillance and subsequently, deported them. Although the actions taken by the authorities were inconsistent with their public statements of invitation, the immediate officials who attended to us were courteous,” stated the release from LAWASIA.

By such action, the Government of Maldives deprived itself of the benefit of an independent and impartial assessment by a fact-finding team not sponsored by any individual, parties or organisations in the Maldives, they further stated.

The organization however has noted that they would continue with their mission and carry out its mandate.

“In this regard, it remains the hope of LAWASIA that the Government of the Maldives and key stakeholders in the country, would take meaningful steps to assist and participate with this task,”said LAWASIA. 

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