I am truly shocked by the trivial manner in which some of our educated people, especially among the youth, are taking the issue of freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. The case of the Criminal Court Judge becomes important  in the first place not because he is a judge nor because he belongs to the criminal court. First and foremost he is a Maldivian citizen like all of us. The most important and most precious dividend from the democracy struggle in Maldives has been freedom from fear. It is the knowledge that no one of us will be dragged out of our beds in the middle of the night and taken to an undisclosed location. The moment we deny this freedom from one person, we deny that freedom for all.

In the aftermath of the World Wars and formation of the United Nations, the international community agreed that freedom of nations depended on the freedom of the individual. Since 1945, there has been a concerted effort by the international community to develop a comprehensive body of international human rights law. The most fundamental human right is the right to personal liberty. and one significant aspect of personal liberty is freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 in its Article 3 states that “everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person. In Article 9 it states that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile”. Similarly, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that “everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.”

Maldives signed the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its Optional Protocol on 16 December 1966. Similarly, we signed the International Covenant for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance on 20 December 2006.

Besides all the international legal obligations, the Government of Maldives is bound by the Maldives Constitution 2008 which prohibits arbitrary arrest and forced disappearance. We have just witnessed the first possible violation since the dawn of democracy in our country. I cannot understand why this is not an issue for everyone in this country.

Those of us who have struggled for freedom in this country for over 30 years, are wondering whether we have wasted our efforts. I have expressed my reservations about the way the Government has allowed the disappearance of a citizen, a Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, for the reasons I mention above. I am ashamed and totally devastated by the fact that this is happening in a government in which I am the elected the Vice President.

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