The Chief of Rule of Law, Equality and Non-Discrimination Branch of the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Ms. Mona Rishmawi, today paid a courtesy call on the Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Abdulla Shahid.
Ms. Mona Rishmawi was accompanied to the meeting by the new UN Senior Human Rights Advisor in the Maldives, Ms. Susanne Pederson, Human Rights Officer at OHCHR, Mr. Raghu Menon and the National Human Rights Officer, Ms. Fathimath Ibrahim Didi.
During the meeting which was held in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today, Minister Shahid briefed the UN delegation on the recent advancements the Maldives had achieved since the Government of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih came into power in November 2018. Minister Shahid emphasised that the commitment of the Government to uphold, promote and protect human rights has never been stronger, and referred to a number of initiatives taken by the Government during the past year.
Minister Shahid explained that the Maldives had reiterated its Standing Invitation to UN Special Procedures Mandate Holders to visit the country, and had the pleasure of hosting two Special Rapporteurs in June 2019 and in November 2019 respectively. He also mentioned that the Maldives had agreed to the individual complaints’ procedure under Article 22 of the Convention Against Torture, and is presently in the process of compiling the national report for the upcoming Universal Period Review of the Maldives scheduled to be held in May 2020 during the Human Rights Council session.
Focusing on domestic advancements, Minister Shahid briefed the delegation that the Maldives had ratified the Child Rights Protection Act, the Juvenile Justice Act and had adopted amendments to the Decentralisation Act, allocating a third of the seats to female candidates. He, however, mentioned that a number of areas need urgent intervention, including building capacity and human resources, and assisting the Maldives with its international human rights obligations and reporting mechanisms. The Government of Maldives stands ready to seek collaborations with the United Nations and other international partners, in the promotion and protection of human rights.
As part of this process, and on the request of Minister Shahid which was made to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2019, the OHCHR had deployed Ms. Susanne Pederson as a Senior Human Rights Advisor to be based within the UN Country Team in the Maldives. Minister Shahid welcomed Ms. Pederson to the Maldives and expressed his confidence in her ability to assist the Maldives in the promotion and protection of human rights. Ms. Pederson would provide technical expertise in ensuring the fulfillment of human rights obligations of the Maldives. She would also be engaging closely with the Government to strengthen Maldives’ adherence to international human rights mechanisms as well as contribute towards further strengthening the legal framework of the country.
Ms. Pedersen has extensive human rights field experience in the region, having worked in Nepal, Sri Lanka and Fiji. She also has experience working on issues affecting small island states. The Government of Maldives is confident that Ms. Pederson’s contributions would prove to be invaluable.
Ms. Mona Rishmawi last visited the Maldives in March 2019. She commended the efforts undertaken by the Government, and mentioned that the Maldives stood out as an example in the international community. During her visit this month, she met a number of key interlocutors and also conducted a visit to Maafushi Prison.
His Excellency Dr. Asim Ahmed, Ambassador-at-large, Mr. Javed Faizal, Additional Secretary, and Mr. Ahmed Salman Zaki, Assistant Director also participated in the meeting.