Democracy and rights
The 2008 Constitution guarantees the Maldives democracy and a range of fundamental freedoms and rights – as long as they do not conflict with Islam. But despite democratization, the Maldives, which is abbreviated as MDV by Abbreviationfinder, are suffering from major democratic shortcomings. Legal security is low and corruption is common.
Since democratization there is free party formation and multi-party is held regularly. However, during President Abdullah Yamin’s reign between 2013 and 2018, the country reverted to authoritarian rule with severe restrictions on political opposition and independent media. Opposition leaders, such as the democracy activist, MDP leader and president Mohamed Nashid, were imprisoned or forced into exile. MDP’s election victories in 2018 and 2019 raised hopes of improved conditions for the country’s opposition.
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Freedom of assembly and assembly was severely limited before 2008 and under the Yamin government.
Corruption occurs within the state administration, for example in the courts, but is also suspected to be at the highest political level. In November 2019, President Yamin was sentenced to five years in prison for money laundering. In 2019, Transparency International ranked Maldives in 130 of 180 countries in its index of corruption in the world (see full list here). It was six investments worse than the year before.
Freedom of expression and media
Freedom of the press and opinion is guaranteed in the 2008 constitution, but journalists have since then been subjected to threats, attacks, abductions and even murders. Before 2008, when Nashid and the MDP came to power, it was not uncommon for abusive media to be shut down by the authorities and for journalists to be imprisoned. After 2012, when Nashid resigned as president, the media climate again hardened. Improvements could only be noted in the fall of 2018 when MDP regained government power.
Reporters Without Borders (RUG) ranked Maldives as the 79th out of 180 countries in its 2020 Media Freedom Index (see full list here). This was a clear improvement, with 19 investments, compared to 2019. During the Yamin government, the Maldives fell steadily in the index, from 103 in 2013 to 120 in 2018.
Since MDP candidate Ibrahim Muhamed Solih was elected President in the fall of 2018, the Prosecutors Act of 2016 used by the Yamin Government to harass and fine independent media was abolished.
Judicial system and legal security
With the new constitution, the courts were given an independent position, but legal certainty is still low. Many judges lack adequate education and experience, and political pressure and corruption exist in the judiciary. The Yamin government used the justice system to silence political opponents, human rights defenders and journalists.
Civil law is subordinate to Muslim Sharia law on family law issues. The country has been criticized for publicly whipping women accused of adultery.
Human rights organizations have accused the police of torture and torture and of arresting people on arbitrary grounds. The police have also been criticized for using excessive force in connection with arrests and demonstrations. The impunity for police officers is reported to be widespread.
The death penalty is contained in the legislation, but executions have not been enforced in the last ten years. In 2018, there were almost 20 convicted prisoners in the country, according to Amnesty International.
Regime critics are elected president
Democratic activist and regime critic Muhammed Nashid of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) wins the presidential election.