by Moosa Latheef
A tweet with reference to the judicial system may be made. Statements may be made in the defense of the rights of the most criticized of persons. All of a sudden, the persons sharing the same political view may be left behind. This is the reality evident from the life of Husnu Suood, one of the most experienced lawyers in the Maldives. However without knowing the reasons behind his actions, the reality of the picture cannot be seen.
In my time as a journalist, I encountered the time when Suood had “disappeared”. Those were the days when there had been an outburst and raging on of a political fire between the MDP Government and the DRP as the Opposition Government due to the need to create a permanent Supreme Court after the expiration of the two year term of the transitional Supreme Court. At that time, he was the Attorney General in President Nasheed’s Government. There was chaos created by the whispers that the court was going to be closed and that the key to the Supreme Court was under the supervision of the police.
All of a sudden, Suood gave his resignation.
It didn’t occur to anyone that he would leave President Nasheed in such a delicate state. Along with the news that Suood had resigned, a lot of work had to be done to find him or to contact him. By the time word was received back from him after having exhausted so many options and having contacted different people, he stated that the Government had deviated from the standards acceptable to him. The aim to bring about substantial reforms to the judicial system had been his aim back then and is one which he has even now. However, allowing the police to guard the Supreme Court and refusing entry to the court in addition to the letter sent to President Nasheed by the seven Justices of the transitional Supreme Court were not acceptable to him.
The letter sent by the Supreme Court stated that despite the expiration of the term of the transitional Supreme Court, the court could not be dissolved and that the term of the Justices would persevere. Suood stated that the Government had a fear that Supreme Court might reach a verdict deciding that the Parliament will not be able to appoint new Justices. He believed that the word of a person in the post of the Attorney General in such a time would not hold any significance.
Gave an opinion way before the expiration of the term
Despite not having given details of the state of affairs back then, Suood faces no obstacles in speaking out today. According to what he stated, he delivered his opinion to President Nasheed at around five months prior the expiration of the term of the transitional Supreme Court on 7 August 2010. His intention is for the formulation of a Supreme Court which is just and rich in public confidence.
“Since it cannot be achieved in the last minute, I raised my opinion either in the month of February or March,” he stated.
The purpose of it according to what Suood stated was to discuss amongst all and to search for most competent Justices. However, the work which was envisaged didn’t go accordingly. On 7 August 2016, the DRP Opposition in control of the Parliament and the Government both shared the thought to “drag” the Supreme Court to their sides. It ended with the distribution [of the seats] amongst themselves.
“Even though he believed in democratic principles, President Nasheed did not act entirely in accordance with them,” Suood stated with reference to the policies in place to appoint permanent Justices to the Supreme Court.
He cannot accept these. Therefore, he resigned from the MDP Government having had good reasons for his resignation.
Standing with politicians who he once criticized
“Everyone deserves justice,” is Suood’s rationale.
This intention and objective of his remained unshaken. It is not easy for him to witness the Justices abuse their power arbitrarily whilst disregarding the rights of the person who is taken to court. This is the reason why sometimes his tweets are “fuming”. He has more than 30,000 followers on Twitter. He is one of the most renowned persons on Twitter in the Maldives. Therefore, he is able to spread his words to the intellects of many people.
Upon seeing Suood advocate as a lawyer for a former Parliament Member, Ahmed Nazim and Defense Minister, Mohamed Nazim, some people believed that “he was allowing himself to be sold for money”. Suood’s political thinking and the side to which the other two persons were connected were very different. Both the Nazims’ were key members and played a strong role in President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom’s Government whom Suood was of extremely critical. Also at that time, they were strong opponents of MDP in the political arena.
Nevertheless, Suood attended court on their behalf as their lawyer as according to him, everyone is entitled to their rights and therefore, he did not believe that anyone could be arrested in an arbitrary manner and be imprisoned.
“I always advocate for rights. It is not easy to watch people be arrested arbitrarily,” he stated.
He realized that many lawyers were hesitant to act as lawyers for former member, Nazim. Nevertheless, Suood is not hesistant to advocate for the protection of the rights of individuals at court.
“I believe that everyone is entitled to a fair hearing,” Suood stated.
In the defense of both Nazims’, he has spoken both in and outside of court. Even though he takes up cases of certain people, he is well aware that he may not win in court.
“I also inform them of this. They believe this too,” Suood stated.
Currently, he is defending one of the political leaders with whom he shares a vast difference in political thought. However, the reason he is defending former President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom is because he believed that rights are being misplaced at the judicial stage. In addition to this, there were substantial legal and judicial implications from the outcome of the verdict of the lower court to hand over the running of PPM to President Abdulla Yameen.
The outcome of the lower court’s verdict caused Suood’s emotions to overflow even before he was appointed as Maumoon’s lawyer. In his first tweet in English pertaining to the verdict, he wrote, “PPM suffers a judicial coup.” He also stated that it is the party members who should choose the person to run the party.
“If we take today’s court ruling as valid, court can appoint Yameen to run Maldives beyond 2018, without need for an election in 2018.”
– Husnu Al Suood
(@hsuood) October 16, 2016
On his second tweet made on the same day, he identified a larger problem. This is that if we were to take the court’s ruling as valid, the court can also declare that Yameen can run the country without the votes of the people.
As per Suood’s statement, the court cannot give the powers to run the party to someone who is not entitled to exercise such powers pursuant to the Constitution of PPM.
“There are things which the court can do. For example, they can order the party’s President, Maumoon to hold a council meeting within 24 of 48 hours. Or to hold a party congress,” Suood stated.
“However, this power has been given to a person other than the person appointed as president by the members of the party. This is something which the court cannot do.”
He took another example in relation to this verdict. This is that a claim maybe submitted by two members of the Parliament against the President of the Parliament if Parliament meetings are not being held.
“I wonder whether the court would deliver a verdict if such a claim is filed. Would they hold someone who is not part of the Parliament as its President?,” Suood pondered.
There is no question now with respect to Suood’s intention in his work to protect the rights of certain politicians. His objective is to protect their rights. His objective is to bravely fight for fair hearings.
He is not hesitant to let his voice be heard. In court, it shall be until the Justices stop him. If outside of court, in an environment where there are no Justices to stop him, via mediums such as Twitter.