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Ibrahim Mohamed Solih interacts with supporters during a gathering in Malé, Maldives, September 24, 2018. © 2018 Eranga Jayawardena/AP Photo

(New York) – The Maldives’ new government should make human rights protections a top priority, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih made public today. Solih, who was elected president on September 23, 2018, has an important opportunity to reverse past abuses and create a rights-respecting government that abides by the rule of law.

“President Solih has already taken some crucial steps toward addressing serious human rights challenges in the Maldives,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “The new government should reverse past abusive policies and demonstrate a genuine commitment to protect the fundamental rights of all Maldivians.”

The Maldives endured decades of dictatorship until the constitutional reforms of 2008. However, former President Abdulla Yameen, who was elected in 2013, stalled progress on rights. The Yameen government was responsible for serious abuses including arbitrary arrests of political opponents and critics and a crackdown on free speech. It is crucial for the new Maldives government to repeal abusive laws and undertake lasting reforms to restore democratic institutions and uphold international human rights standards.

Human Rights Watch urged the Maldives government to address its human rights commitments in six key areas:

  • Repeal laws that unjustly restrict free expression and peaceful assembly;
  • Abolish the death penalty;
  • Reform the judiciary and police to ensure independence and neutrality;
  • Protect vulnerable communities;
  • Investigate serious violations of human rights under the previous government and bring those responsible to justice; and
  • Strengthen the Maldives Human Rights Commission.

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