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Press briefing note on Maldives, Kenya and Myanmar

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location: Geneva
Date: 2 February 2018
Theme: Maldives, Kenya and Myanmar

(1) Maldives

We urge the Government of the Maldives to fully respect yesterday’s decision by the Supreme Court to overturn the conviction and order a retrial of former President Mohamed Nasheed and to release eight other political prisoners who have been detained in the Maldives, as well as the Court’s reinstatement of 12 suspended opposition Members of Parliament.

As you know, we have been expressing concerns about the situation in the Maldives for several years, so we are closely watching how the situation develops in the aftermath of yesterday’s decisions by the Supreme Court, and in particular the reactions of the Government, military and police. We understand the situation is extremely tense.

We are concerned by what appears to be an initial heavy-handed reaction by security forces in the capital Malé against people celebrating the Court’s decision, and urge them to show understanding and restraint, and to act in full accordance with international laws and standards governing the policing of protests and other forms of public assembly. We also urge all those celebrating, or protesting, to do so in a peaceful fashion.

(2) Kenya

We are concerned that three TV stations remain suspended for the third day today in Kenya after the Government accused them of “complicity” for airing footage of opposition leader Raila Odinga’s “inauguration ceremony”.

We understand that this is in spite of an interim order by a Kenyan High Court, instructing the Government to allow the TV stations to resume transmission. We call on the Government to respect and implement the judicial decision. We are also concerned at the Government’s attempts to interfere with the rights to freedom of expression by reportedly warning that participation in the “inauguration ceremony” would lead to revocation of licences. Media organisations that disregarded this advice were shut down.

We urge the Government and the opposition in Kenya to work towards resolving the current situation through dialogue, with full respect for the rule of law and the rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly and political participation.

(3) Myanmar

We deeply regret the continuing detention of two Reuters journalists in Myanmar, following yesterday’s decision by a court in Mingaladon to refuse bail, and we repeat our calls for their immediate release and for the charges against them to be dropped.

On 12 December last year, Reuters journalists Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone were arrested in extremely murky circumstances after being invited to meet police officers in a restaurant in Yangon.

Along with the Secretary-General, the Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression and on Myanmar – and many others – we are alarmed at the serious erosion of freedom of expression in Myanmar.

The United Nations is in contact with both Reuters and the Myanmar authorities over the case of the two men.