Male, February 23 (Maldives Independent): The State of Emergency (SOE) in the Maldives is “unconstitutional”, lawyers have said, as the Prosecutor General Aishath Bisham faced a challenge from the government.
More than 30 lawyers at the Prosecutor General’s office backed Aishath Bisham for saying parliament’s vote on the State of Emergency was unconstitutional, local media reported.
Bisham wrote to police hours after parliament approved President Abdulla Yameen’s request to extend the State of Emergency by 30 days.
Several prosecutors from her office told the Maldives Independent they signed a petition of support after speculation she was being leaned on to change her stance.
Lawmakers from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) have criticized Bisham over her opinion.
PPM Vice President Abdul Raheem Abdulla MP told reporters on Thursday evening that only the Supreme Court had the authority to declare whether the State of Emergency was constitutional or not.
“We believe that the decision of the parliament [to approve the state of emergency] is constitutional. This is supported by the stay order of the Supreme Court,” he said, referring to the stay order issued telling institutions to follow the state of emergency while the court decides on its legality.
Mariyam Shunana, who is state counsel at the attorney general’s office, called upon Yameen to lift the state of emergency.
“I have expressed my concern earlier and waited for SoE to be lifted. However it’s been extended,” she told the Maldives Independent. “We are talking about basic fundamental rights like right to a fair trial being suspended for more than 30 days. That is why I have requested president to lift the SoE. This is not a political view and it is just a legal opinion,” she said.
Local media reported that a senior figure from the attorney general’s office, Shafeea Riza, had resigned. She was unavailable for comment.
Former journalist Lubna Hawwa urged the legal community to defend the rule of law in the Maldives.
“In 2007, hundreds of lawyers in Pakistan marched against Musharraf, when he attacked the judiciary by suspending Chief Justice & declared martial law,” she tweeted.
(The featured image at the top shows the Maldivian Prosecutor General Aishath Bisham)