Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 5th March 2007.

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Photo of Mike Hancock Mike Hancock Liberal Democrat, Portsmouth South

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of efforts of the Government of the Maldives to reach internationally accepted standards on (a) the democratic process, (b) a fair legal system and (c) a free and diverse media; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Ian McCartney Ian McCartney Minister of State (Trade & Investment), Department of Trade and Industry, Minister of State (Trade & Investment), Foreign & Commonwealth Office

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answers that my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Trade (Mr. McCartney) and I gave to Mr. Clifton-Brown on 27 February 2007, Hansard, columns 1198-99W.

We welcome the statements by the Government of the Maldives that they are committed to a process of reform leading to multi-party democracy. While some progress has been made, there are still significant obstacles. The Government have been encouraging a process of all-party talks to accelerate the reform process.

We remain concerned, however, about the Government of the Maldives' approach towards people, including journalists, members of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party and others, who are active in promoting democratic change in the Maldives. The use of the judicial process in a seemingly politically motivated way is one of those concerns.

At the invitation of the Government of the Maldives, the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Mr. Leandro Despouy, recently visited the Maldives to assist the Government in their implementation of judicial reforms. He has made a number of preliminary observations and will report his findings and recommendations for strengthening the Maldivian judiciary and assuring its independence to the UN Human Rights Council.

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