Beneath the sandy veneer of the Maldives lurks trouble for at least thirty percent of the country’s lawyers who just recently had their licenses unilaterally revoked for vocalizing dissent to encroaching authoritarianism.
Sensing grave injustice to barristers inhabiting the Southeast Asian Archipelago, the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) recently condemned the suspensions to stand in solidarity with the 56 lawyers who are now out of a job because they filed a petition critical of the country’s justice system.
“According to reliable information, none of the 56 lawyers have been allowed to exercise the right to defend themselves or be heard before a disciplinary proceeding. As well, we understand that all 56 lawyers have been penalized before an investigation was conducted regarding the allegations.”
The country had its democratically-elected government ousted in 2012 and its former Prime Minister is now living in exile in Britain after escaping “politically motivated” terrorism charges.
Among its many demands to the Maldivian government, Canada’s largest regulator of lawyers, LSO, (formerly known as the Law Society of Upper Canada) is urging the country to reverse its suspensions and to create an independent bar association. (You can read the LSO’s long list of demands to the Maldivian government by clicking here)
The United Nations is also concerned, and the unilateral move to suspend one third of the country’s approximate 150 lawyers was called “dubious” by UN Special rapporteur Diego Garcia Sayan.
Despite depictions of political upheaval and the silencing of free speech in headlines around the world, there is reason to suspect the south asian nation is still safe and enjoyable to travel to during wintertime. Recent statistics suggest visitors from the U.K. increased 18 per cent over the past year.
In comparison to many other nations in South Asia, the Maldives ranks quite high in the human development index and its citizens a fair bit of money in comparison to other people in the region.