EU, British Ambassador voice concern over mass suspension of lawyers

Lawyers gathered in front of the Supreme Court to submit a petition raising concerns over the Maldivian judiciary.

Lawyers gathered in front of the Supreme Court to submit a petition raising concerns over the Maldivian judiciary.

The European Union and British Ambassador to the Maldives on Monday criticized the mass suspension of over 50 lawyers in the archipelago over an “unlawful” petition they submitted to the Supreme Court.

In a tweet posted late on Monday night, the Delegation of the European Union to the Maldives declared, “Suspending 54 lawyers isn’t the right way to address issue of ‘obstructing independence of the justice system’”, with the hashtag #EU4HumanRights.

The British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Ambassador to the Maldives, James Dauris, also voiced concern over the unprecedented development, describing the suspension as “another sorry step.”

“Debate is healthy in every society,” he said in a tweet posted Monday.

The Department of Judicial Administration (DJA) suspended 54 lawyers late Sunday, declaring that the petition they had submitted to the top court was an “unlawful” document. The department stated that the lawyers were in violation of the Judicature Act, lawyers’ pledge, regulations to prevent contempt of court, and the regulations of the Supreme Court, thus resulting in their indefinite suspension.

However, the suspended lawyers proclaimed that their petition highlighted concerns regarding the judicial system of the Maldives and requested the Supreme Court to address the issues and bring solutions. Asserting that they had acted in defence of the judiciary and the rights of legal representatives and judges, the lawyers stated that they remain unflappable in the face of the suspension, and warned of more petitions to come.

The suspended lawyers include several prominent names in the legal sector of the Maldives, some of whom are advocating on behalf of opposition politicians.

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