The Maldivian Government has acknowledged concerns regarding its decision to impose temporary restrictions on public gatherings, while the country remains under a state of public health emergency as many have voiced concerns about the restrictions both locally and globally.
In a statement, the Government said that some parties have expressed the view that the requirement to obtain prior permission from the Maldives Police Service in order to gather for peaceful protest and the Government’s designation of special protest areas are unconstitutional restrictions on freedom of assembly.
It reiterated its commitment to upholding the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution, and notes that the regulations on peaceful assembly are in line with current domestic and international legislation.
The Government also noted that, while restrictions placed on movements due to Covid-19 have been partially eased, the Health Protection Agency has called on members of the public to observe social distancing, and limit gatherings to less than 30 people, in order to contain the spread of the virus.
The Government said that despite many challenges, national authorities, with the unwavering support of the public have been largely successful in containing the spread of Covid-19 and keeping case numbers within the capacity of our healthcare system.
In order to maintain these gains, the Government reminded all those engaging in peaceful protest to abide by HPA guidelines as they exercise their fundamental rights.
The government also acknowledged and welcomes the serious concerns expressed by several expatriate workers who have long endured unjust treatment and been victimized by festering issues that successive administrations have failed to resolve.
It said that significant reform is required to redress these grievances, and is working with all stakeholders to resolve these issues amicably and systematically.
Incidents over the last few days, where individuals have resorted to violence have been deeply alarming, and will not be further tolerated.
The government said that it respected and welcomed the role of civil society organizations, who provide vibrant engagement on the most pressing issues in our community.
CSOs are requested to abide by national regulations, as we all continue to work together on much-needed reforms.
While welcoming statements of concern, the Government noted the progress made in the past year - decriminalization of defamation, the lifting of restrictions on foreign journalists, ratification of long-delayed international human rights conventions, and the initiation of an extensive legislative reform agenda.
The Government reaffirmed its commitment to democratic reform, good governance and human rights, and continues to work with national and international partners to resolve the many systematic challenges the Maldives faces with sincerity.