Online consultation with senior legal professionals in the Maldives successfully completed

The Foundation, in collaboration with the Bar Council of the Maldives, convened a two-day consultation with senior legal professionals working on criminal matters

The Max Planck Foundation hosted an online consultation on the topic Access to Justice for Accused Persons and Persons in Detention on 18 and 19 May 2022 respectively. The consultation was attended by senior defence attorneys from the Maldives, prosecutors from the Prosecutor General’s Office, legal consultants to the Attorney General’s Office, international experts and other practicing Maldivian lawyers. During the consultation, participants examined the rights applicable at each stage of a criminal trial and discussed means to ensure compliance with domestic and international law standards protecting these rights.

The consultation began by examining the pre-trial rights applicable to persons accused of crimes. Expert remarks were made by Mr Hamza Latheef, a private defence attorney in the Maldives, Mr Ahmed Shifau, a legal consultant offering legal aid services to the Attorney General’s Office, and Mr Ahmed Naushad from the Prosecutor General’s Office. This session emphasised the implementation gap that appears to exist despite the Maldives’ progressive legal framework.

Following this, Mr Maumoon Hameed, President of the Bar Council of the Maldives, speaking in private capacity as a defence attorney, Ms Aishath Mohamed from the Prosecutor General’s Office and Dr Andreas Minkoff, a German defence attorney, discussed the various protections of individuals during a trial. In particular, the need for transparency in terms of procedure, evidence and public monitoring was emphasised.

The second day of the consultation explored issues relating to sentencing and conditions in detention. Expert remarks were made by Mr Ahmed Naufal from the Prosecutor General’s Office, Mr Ibrahim Shameel, a private defence attorney, and Mr Christoph Capelle from the Prisons and Penal Reform Team of UNODC. During these discussions the need to operationalise laws relating to non-custodial sentences was highlighted. Further, opportunities for coordination to ensure the improvement of conditions in detention centres were examined.

The consultation was conceived with two objectives in mind. The first was to provide legal professionals from each of the various institutions working to advance the rights of accused persons and persons in detention with an opportunity to share their experiences and best practices with one another. Second, the Foundation aimed to gather information about challenges and needs within the criminal justice system to inform workshops that the Foundation will host in the Maldives later this year.

This online consultation formed part of the project ‘Stabilising the Rule of Law by Supporting the Reform Agenda of the Republic of Maldives’ funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.