Maldives reviewed under the UPR: No freedom of religion despite considerable progress in other areas
Thursday, 11 November 2010 18:37


On 3 November 2010 the Maldives, currently a member of the UN Human Rights Council, was reviewed by the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The State was represented by a delegation ‘small as the Maldives themselves’, as introduced by head of delegation Mr Ahmed Shaheed, Minister of Foreign Affairs. The delegation furthermore included Ahmed Ali Sawad, Attorney-General, who answered some of the more legal questions, as well as the first female President of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, and members of the permanent mission of the Maldives to Geneva. However, the latter did not take the floor during the interactive dialogue.


States commended the honest reporting and the successful peaceful transition of the Maldives to a multi-party democracy in 2008. The Maldives frankly admitted that they still have a long way to go in many areas but drew attention to their quick progress and efforts made in recent years, particularly in reforming the judiciary. Criticism revolved mainly around the lack of a right to freedom of religion in domestic legislation. Practising religions other than Islam is prohibited and only Muslims can acquire citizenship or run for public office. Another prominent issue was climate change and its adverse effects on human rights, with States commending the Maldives’ role in spearheading the Human Rights Council’s initiatives in this regard. Asked about possible further actions on this, the Maldives said they might propose the creation of a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Climate Change.


Further concerns raised by States and specific recommendations included:

  • Withdrawal of reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • The need to tackle widespread violence and discrimination against women by a swift implementation of the bill on domestic violence which is currently going through Parliament, and by creating other protection mechanisms, as well as by making efforts to challenge traditional stereotypes
  • Better protection of children’s rights to ensure that they don’t fall victim to violence, abuse or forced labour. Furthermore, children born out of wedlock should be granted equal rights
  • Legislation criminalising homosexuality should be repealed
  • The death penalty should be abolished
  • Corporal punishment, particularly the practice of flogging, should be abolished
  • The rights of Migrant Workers should be strengthened, inter alia by ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers

The dialogue was of a constructive nature and the Maldives proved their readiness to accept criticism. However, they didn’t share the concerns about freedom of religion and the rights of LGBTI people. At the adoption of the report in the Working Group, the Maldives deferred stating its position on all of the 126 recommendations made until the next session of the Human Rights Council. In the meantime, the UPR Standing Committee of the Maldives, comprised of government officials and civil society, will consider the recommendations.

© by The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) 2018