On 7 February, Marietje Schaake submitted the following questions to High Representative Mogherini on the situation in the Maldives:
On 5 February 2018, President Yameen of the Maldives has declared a State of Emergency. The government refuses to implement the ruling of the Supreme Court ordering the release of nine imprisoned opposition politicians, prompting a wave of protests in the capital Malé.
The political crisis in the Maldives continues to deepen as former president and vocal critic of the current president Gayoom was arrested, as well as two of the country’s four Supreme Court judges. The government uses the law and criminal cases to silence critics and to imprison members of the opposition. The arrested face politically motivated and flawed trials and the separation of powers is threatened.
In light of the recent developments, can the VP/HR clarify:
1. Whether she will condemn the measures taken by president Yameen and call on the Maldivian authorities to restore the rule of law and to ensure that free and fair trial standards are met?
2. Whether she is considering the possibility of suspending EU financial assistance to the Maldives and to impose sanctions against President Yameen and the regime leaders, subject to the resumption of the rule of law and democratic principles in the country?
Answer given by Vice-President Mogherini on behalf of the Commission
The European Union (EU) is following closely the situation in the Maldives. The Spokesperson issued two statements on 2 February(1) and on 6 February(2) 2018. The Head of EU Delegation accredited to the Maldives and based in Colombo conducted an official demarche to the Maldivian authorities (19-21 February 2018), mandated by Member States with specific Terms of Reference, to carry EU concerns and messages.
Upon the proposal of the High Representative/Vice-President (HR/VP), the Council adopted Conclusions on 26 February 2018(3) calling the competent Maldivian institutions to immediately lift the State of Emergency and restore all constitutionally guaranteed rights.
The Council called upon Maldivian authorities to respect the rule of law, and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of expression and the right to fair trial. The Council condemned politically motivated arrests and called for the immediate release of all political prisoners.
The Council also condemned any interference with the work of the Supreme Court of the Maldives and actions taken against the judiciary and the judges. In its conclusions, the Council underlined that the current situation is not in accordance with the principles of democratic rule and separation of powers, and that if the situation does not improve, the Council may therefore consider targeted measures. In its conclusions, the Council also expressed concerns about the possible impact of the current situation also on the security of foreign residents and visitors, including tourists.
The HR/VP will continue to follow the situation in coordination with the Council.
The Maldives graduated to Upper Middle Income Country status, therefore there is no Multi Annual Indicative Programme/bilateral envelope for Maldives for 2014-2020. EU development cooperation is currently limited to two projects in the field of climate change adaptation and mitigation, and a support to local authorities and civil society organisations, implemented by Transparency International. Considering the nature of the projects, the EU does not intend to interrupt activities.