Opposition criticizes parliamentary committee statement on Judge Hailam

Hinnavaru MP Jeehan Mahmood (C) chairs over a meeting of the Human Rights and Gender Committee. (Sun Photo/Ahmed Awshan Ilyas)

The opposition has criticized the press statement issued by the Parliament’s Human Rights and Gender Committee regarding Criminal Court Chief Judge Ahmed Hailam.

The committee, on Saturday evening, condemned Hailam for sharing the cartoon which depicted national hero, Martyr Hussain Ali Adam dragging Abdulla Luthfee and other November 3, 1988 convicts along with President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Speaker of Parliament, President Mohamed Nasheed and other political figures by a chain around their necks.

Hailam had shared the cartoon over the messaging app, Viber, to a group created for the staff of the Criminal Court to send greetings on occasion of Victory Day, November 3.

Hailam later released a statement in which he apologized for sharing the cartoon. He said that he hadn’t been aware that the President and Speaker had also been depicted on the cartoon, and had shared it because it depicted Abdulla Luthfee – the mastermind behind the coup attempt of November 3, 1988.

The committee said the cartoon depicted cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, which violated the inherent dignity that every human being is entitled to under Article 2(c) of Anti-Torture Act, the Maldivian Constitution, and the UN Convention against Torture and Cruel Inhumane Degrading Treatment and Punishment which Maldives is party to.

In response to the statement, former Vice President and former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s attorney, Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed tweeted on Saturday that parliamentary committees weren’t the personal property of either Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) or the Speaker himself.

“The attempts at interference and further condemnation instead of proper investigation into suspicions is further evidence of the level of influence over President Yameen’s trial. The Parliament and the institutions are being exploited for retaliation upon assumption of power,” said Jameel.

Meanwhile, People’s National Congress (PNC) deputy leader, Maduvvari MP Adam Shareef Umar pointed out that it wasn’t common practice for parliamentary committees to release press statements.

“…Will be interesting when multiple committees make controversial statements and the Speaker differs, then the parliament acts just like a bull in a kitchen shop,” he added.

Fellow PNC deputy leader, Maavashu MP Mohamed Saeed said that the parliamentary committees had all the markings of a family reign.

“The parliamentary committees, too, have been imprinted with the ‘seal’ of a family reign. Further condemnation of the Judge instead of proper investigation into suspicions and this attempt to tamper with the whole system is further evidence of the level of influence over President Yameen’s trial,” he said.

Hailam had been presiding over Yameen’s money laundering trial, and had been mere hours from delivering the verdict when he was placed under suspension by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) over the cartoon on November 5.

Senior officials from PPM and PNC, as well as members of Yameen’s legal team shared their concerns over Yameen’s trial and the lack of confidence in the local judiciary in delivering a fair sentence to international stakeholders in a recent visit to neighboring Sri Lanka.