UK mulls travel ban on top Maldives officials

Hugo Swire, the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (L) shakes the hand of president Yameen during a visit to the Maldives in January. PHOTO/PRESIDENT'S OFFICE

Hugo Swire, the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (L) shakes the hand of president Yameen during a visit to the Maldives in January. PHOTO/PRESIDENT’S OFFICE

The United Kingdom is considering barring top Maldives government officials and members of the judiciary from entering the UK amid concerns over the deteriorating situation in the island nation.

Responding to a question in the House of Commons on Wednesday, the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Hugo Swire said the UK government is extremely concerned as the situation in the Maldives continues to deteriorate.

“We strongly encourage the Government of the Maldives to engage constructively with both the United Nations and the Commonwealth envoys and to implement all of the recent recommendations of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group,” Swire who remains a strong critic of president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s government said.

The CMAG – a rotating body of foreign ministers from member states – had delayed action against the Maldives earlier this month, despite limited progress on a six-point reform agenda it had proposed in February.

The group, however, had called for “clear, measurable progress” by September.

Swire also insisted that the Maldives government must deliver concrete progress by CMAG’s September meeting.

“We are also considering bilateral action, including exclusion orders against senior members of the Government and the judiciary,” the state minister warned.

An exclusion order prohibits a person and their family’s admission to the UK.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed, who was handed a 13-year jail term last March on a terror charge, leads the international push for sanctions.

Nasheed was allowed to travel to Britain for surgery in January and granted political asylum in May.

Nasheed’s legal counsel had said they have shared a confidential list of potential targets with the US and UK governments.

President Yameen has repeatedly lambasted international criticism as an attack on the Maldives’ sovereignty.

The CMAG’s demands also include calls for steps to prevent use of anti-terror laws to stifle dissent, swift action on recommendations for judicial reform and freedom and space for civil society.

Maldives has also been sprung into international limelight after a push to enforce the death penalty.

The archipelago’s top court had recently upheld two death sentences which could pave the way for the first execution in more than half a century.

 

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