Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Geneva, Switzerland
Address: Chemin des Fins 2, Case Postale 102, 1211 Geneva 19 - Telephone: 022 799 9100 - Fax: 022 799 9178

9th Session of the Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review

Statement by Australia

Statement on the Maldives
by H.E. Peter Woolcott, Permanent Representative
3 November 2010

Australia warmly welcomes the distinguished delegation from the Maldives, and greatly appreciates His Excellency Dr Ahmed Shaheed’s frankness and openness in engaging in the Universal Periodic Review process. We also welcome Maldives’ recent appointment to the Human Rights Council for the term 2010-2013.

It is clear that the past five years have seen great change and progress in democratisation in the Maldives. Australia welcomes the guarantees of fundamental rights and freedoms contained in the Maldives’ new Constitution, including the independence of statutory bodies; the rights of persons with disabilities, and media freedom. We encourage Maldives to maintain the momentum towards full institutionalisation of these reforms in a timely, effective and transparent manner. We also encourage close dialogue among political parties in Maldives to ensure peaceful consolidation of the country’s democracy.

We commend the efforts the Maldivian Government has made in the Human Rights Council to draw attention to the implications of climate change. We are also pleased to be working with the Maldives to address trafficking in persons.

Notwithstanding significant human rights improvements in Maldives over recent years, a number of issues remain. We are pleased to hear the steps the Maldivian Government is taking to improve the rights of migrant workers; protect the rights of children; and increase the rights of women, including equality of access to education and employment. We encourage the Maldives to continue to build on these measures.

We recognise the efforts undertaken by the Maldives to combat extremism. However, Australia would like to urge the Maldives to establish freedom of religion as a fundamental right of a new and vibrant democracy.

Australia recommends that Maldives:

1. Prioritise legislation on women’s rights, sexual harassment, domestic violence, and the protection of children against abuse.

2. Introduce policies aimed at ending discrimination against individuals on the basis of their gender identity or sexual orientation, and repeal legislation criminalising homosexuality.

3. Remove legislation which discriminates against individuals on the basis of their religion or belief.