President Nasheed has met with senior representatives of the world's main international human rights NGOs to discuss human rights in the Maldives, the Maldives' work in the UN Human Rights Council, and the upcoming SAARC Summit. The NGOs at the meeting were Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Cairo Institute, Association for the Prevention of Torture, and the Asia Forum on Human Rights.
The NGO leaders congratulated the Maldives on its leadership at the Human Rights Council on issues ranging from human rights and the environment to Emergency Sessions on Libya and Syria. They also congratulated the President Nasheed on his speech to the UN on Peaceful Protest and the Muslim Awakening.
Beginning with the domestic situation, President Nasheed informed the NGOs that the Maldives' democratic transition is still very much a work in progress. Much remains to be done, especially in terms of strengthening the country's democratic institutions and embedding human rights principles in society. He welcomed the scrutiny of international NGOs as such pressure helps focus minds in the Maldives.
Internationally, President Nasheed said that the Maldives does what it can, despite its limited geopolitical reach.
During the discussion which followed, the Maldives was urged to use its Chairmanship of SAARC to begin a South Asian dialogue on human rights. South Asia is the last major region of the world which does not possess a regional human rights mechanism. The Maldives was also asked to work with newly-emerging democracies in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, to share its experiences. Other issues discussed included the Maldives' National Torture Prevention Mechanism and how it is functioning in practice; and the human rights situation in Sri Lanka.
On the last point, the President called on the international community to engage constructively with Sri Lanka through dialogue and cooperation. He noted that while it is important to secure accountability for violations committed during the closing stages of the war, it is also vital that the country looks forward and focuses on rehabilitation, reconstruction, reform and reconciliation.
Following his trip to the countries, England, Canada and Switzerland President Mohamed Nasheed has returned to Male’ today, after concluding his official visit.