International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Maldives’ Transition to Democracy Appears Increasingly Precarious

The Maldives, a country of 1,200 islands in the Pacific Ocean, recently started the process of democratization. The first democratically elected president in the history of the island, the popular Mohamed Nasheed, unseated the longtime dictator in 2008. However he was recently ousted in what he now calls a coup, and power was assumed by the half-brother of the former dictator. Now, Nasheed has been sentenced to jail for 13 years on terrorism charges, which the international community are calling politically motivated.

Foreign state governments and human rights organizations have taken notice of the increasingly precarious transitional government. The new regime is becoming increasingly autocratic, unpredictable, and unstable. They use intimidation tactics like false imprisonment against opponents and have restricted civil liberties. Nighttime rallies and protests have started in opposition to the government.

The transition to democracy can be shaky in a formerly dictatorial state, and it is by no means assured that the country will not backslide to autocracy. Fledgeling democracies can be unstable and may resort to restriction of freedoms and civil liberties in an ostensible effort to protect democracy, but may actually harm it. Court systems are often impartial, especially when the outgoing regime is still strong, as it clearly was in the Maldives.

Also, as a fun fact, Amal Clooney is one of the recently announced defense lawyers for Nasheer in his appeal of the terrorism charges.

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