LONDON, 2 August 2019 –The International Legal Team instructed by Mr. Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Ghafoor, issued the following statement in response to reports that the former Vice-President is being held in the Port of Tuticorin in the State of Tamil-Nadu. The International Legal Team confirms that the former Vice-President is being questioned today by Officials from the Central Government and the State Government of Tamil-Nadu amid reports that Law Enforcement Officials from the Republic of Maldives are heading to Chennai to take custody of the former Vice-President.
It is repeated that theformer Vice-President of the Republic of Maldives, Mr. Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Ghafoor, has sought the protection of India and has initiated the process of claiming asylum, the Indian authorities are therefore under an obligation to consider his request and to ensure that he is not arbitrarily handed over to the authorities of the Republic of Maldives where he is at risk of ill-treatment.
The former Vice-President was previously detained for a period of three years after having been convicted of charges over which he denies any involvement and charges for which the Supreme Court has overturned all convictions as being politically motivated.
It is important to emphasise that he was acquitted by the Supreme Court yet held under house arrest and used as a political pawn by the State Security Forces to implicate members of the previous administration.
It is of note that the state authorities in Maldives forced the former Vice-President to sign an agreement by which he would provide implicate members of the previous administration in criminal conduct and that the provision of necessary medical care was withheld until he signed the Agreement.
The International Legal Team has received the Agreement and confirm its contents.
Such coercive actions by the organs of the State are unlawful and constitute further evidence as to the nature of the allegations against the former Vice-President.
We would therefore remind the Indian Government of its obligations under international law, in that it is required to respect the principle of ‘non-refoulement’, and thus, it is unlawful to return a person to the place where their life or freedom would be threatened. All persons have the Right to Liberty, and, Security of Person, and further, all persons who seek asylum ought to be able to expect to be protected by the host nation upon being identified as such. It matters not that the former Vice-President may have entered the country illegally, once a claim of asylum is made, the appropriate authorities are required to consider it.
India as a nation can rightly be proud of its history in protecting those fleeing to safety and it would therefore be unconscionable to tarnish that reputation now.
To return the former Vice-President to the Republic of Maldives, where there is credible evidence that he will be mistreated, is not only unlawful, but, sets a very dangerous precedent for any other individual that seeks to flee to safety.
It has been reported that law enforcement officials from the Republic of Maldives are expected to arrive in Chennai imminently. We would remind the Governments of both India and Maldives that there is an established legal process that must be followed and anything short of that will constitute rendition which is unlawful in both States.
Accordingly, there is a very real and demonstrable risk that his fundamental rights and freedoms will be violated, Adeeb is at risk of becoming a victim of a politically motivated justice system.
Head of the International Legal Team, Toby Cadman stated:
Following reports that representatives of the Maldives Police Service are en route to India to take custody of the former Vice President, Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Ghafoor, and return him to the Maldives where he is likely to be detained without charge, we remind both the Governments of India and Maldives that such a process would be unlawful and a direct circumvention of the Rule of Law, something that would seriously damage the reputation of both States and fundamentally undermine the legal process that they both purport to uphold.
We therefore call upon the Government of India to consider the application in an appropriate manner and offer Adeeb protection whilst his claim is under review.
We repeat our call to the UN Office of the High Commission for Refugees to act with diligence in considering his application and we call upon the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights to ensure that his rights are protected.