MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Thursday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report titled "‘An All-Out Assault on Democracy': Crushing Dissent in the Maldives," which argued that the government of incumbent President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom widely uses various decrees to silence criticism and imprison dissenters. In particular, the report detailed the use of counterterrorism law against the opposition, anti-defamation legislation against the media and restrictions on the right to assembly to curb any expression of protest.
"The Maldives government has cracked down on any and all dissent, from activists and journalists to Supreme Court judges. Immediate steps are needed to restore political freedoms and democratic rule to ensure free and fair elections in September," HRW Asia Director Brad Adams said, as quoted in the report’s summary.
The watchdog warned the government that its alleged crackdown on democracy would not be left without consequences, noting that the results of elections conducted in such an atmosphere would inevitably raise legitimacy concerns among members of the international community.
"President Yameen should not believe that he can crush dissent and manipulate the elections without international censure. His government needs to act quickly if the Maldives’ donors are going to take the elections seriously," Adams added.
The HRW report is not the first time when concerns over the transparency of the Maldivian election have been raised. Earlier in the week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested that Yameen first ensure the full restoration of democracy as well as judiciary independence before seeking re-election. In July, the EU Council was also concerned about the political situation in the country, adopting a framework for targeted sanctions against Maldivian entities and persons, who responsible for violating democratic procedures and human rights.