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Maldives’ ex-president Yameen walks free after Aarah conviction overturned

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Former Maldivian leader Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom walked free on Thursday, after the High Court overturned a conviction against him for money laundering and bribery.

Yameen was sentenced to 11 years in prison on December 25, 2022, on charges of bribery and money laundering in connection to the sale of V. Aarah. The High Court delivered its verdict on Thursday, after a months-long pause in the appeal proceedings.

But instead of a full exoneration, the court overturned the two convictions and ordered a retrial in the case.

Earlier on Thursday, the High Court overturned the three-year prison sentence issues against Yameen’s co-defendant in the case, former Felidhoo MP Yoosuf Naeem, who was convicted of bribing the former president.

Delivering the judgement, Judge Hassan Shafeeu – who chaired the three-member bench – said that the Criminal Court committed major wrongs in the trial. He said the verdict was issued “outside the bounds of the law.”

The other two judges concurred.

The High Court’s judgement comes four months after it concluded appeal hearings in the case. The sentencing hearing was scheduled on Wednesday night, after Speaker Mohamed Aslam – a top politician from the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – threatened to lodge a case with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) over the prolonged appeal process.

This marks the second time for a court to overturn a conviction against Yameen. In 2021, the Supreme Court overturned a five-year sentence issued against him for money laundering in connection to the sale of GA. Vodamulla – another island which was leased for resort development during his administration.

The conviction in the Aarah case had disqualified Yameen from contesting the 2023 presidential elections. Though he initially asked the then-opposition PPM-PNC (Progressive Party of Maldives-People’s National Congress) coalition to boycott the election, he later endorsed President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu, who won the vote taken by the coalition’s joint senate to produce a backup candidate.

Yameen was transferred home on October 1, 2023 – a day after President Muizzu won the presidential election.

But less than a week after President Muizzu took office in November, Yameen left the ruling PPM-PNC and initiated efforts to form a new party, the People’s National Front (PNF).

He has also grown increasingly vocal in his criticism of President Muizzu’s administration, has repeatedly alleged that President Muizzu and other members of the PPM-PNC leadership had never wanted him freed.

Source(s); sun.mv

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Maldives announces efforts to secure seat in UNSC

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President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu has announced Maldives’ efforts to secure a seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the Economic and Social Council, emphasising that Small Island Developing States (SIDs), despite their small size, have the power to shape their futures and drive change. He made the remarks speaking at the opening ceremony of the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4).

Welcomed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Prime Minister Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne, President Muizzu highlighted the need for SIDS to evaluate their achievements since the first roadmap was developed at the 1994 SIDS Summit in Barbados. This year marks the 30th anniversary of that landmark event.

In his address, President Muizzu pointed out the persistent challenges faced by SIDS, including poverty, increasing natural disasters, and environmental degradation. He also noted the growing debts, inequality, and injustice that undermine the hopes and confidence of the international community. “Our vulnerabilities should not be our downfall. They should be our armour. Our rallying call”, declared President Muizzu.

He called for the international community’s cooperation in providing guidance and support to SIDS, stressing the need for these nations to take a leading role in various activities. Key areas of focus should include increasing investments, strengthening institutional governance, and enhancing integrity and accountability in governments.

President underscored that SIDS can only become a powerful force in the international community if everyone stand together and lead by example in development and progress. He expressed confidence that through collective effort, SIDS can achieve their goals and objectives.

The SIDS4 Seminar, themed “Charting the Course Towards Resilient Prosperity,” brings together leaders and stakeholders from various sectors to discuss sustainable, prosperous, and vibrant futures for small island developing countries.

Source(s): PsmNews

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Government stresses importance of digital health in island nations

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Minister of Health Dr. Abdulla Khaleel has underscored the paramount importance of digital health for small island nations like the Maldives during one of the forums at the 36th Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting (36CHMM).

The Commonwealth, an international association of 56 member states, promotes cooperation and supports economic, social, and human rights development within member countries.

The 36CHMM is convened under the theme “Actionable Solutions to Building Resilience in Healthcare Systems within the Commonwealth, with an Emphasis on Small and Vulnerable States.” This theme further aims to address the healthcare challenges faced by vulnerable countries.

Representing the Maldives, Minister Khaleel emphasised the necessity of easy access to healthcare facilities in island countries and the efficient use of digital health systems, highlighting how the rapid transfer of patient information between health centers can expedite healthcare services.

Moreover, Minister Khaleel also detailed the Maldives’ ongoing efforts to achieve a comprehensive digital health system, aiming to enhance ease and convenience in the healthcare sector. The Maldives has submitted six proposals at the 36CHMM, focusing on policies that promote general health and ongoing initiatives to facilitate these goals. The minister noted that increasing early health screenings and the provision of health information could significantly reduce state expenditures on disease prevention.

Further discussions initiated by Minister Khaleel addressed making healthcare facilities safe from environmental hazards and improving the quality and retention of healthcare workers through increased community participation. These measures aim to substantially enhance overall general health.

The forum also discussed the impact of global environmental changes on health, stressing the need for renewable energy sources. Minister Khaleel urged stronger nations to support small, vulnerable countries, suggesting that the allocation of climate funds should consider the Multi Dimensional Vulnerability Index, rather than relying solely on Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Accompanying Minister Khaleel were Minister of State for Health Khadeeja Abdul Samad Abdulla and two officials from the Ministry of Health and the Health Protection Agency (HPA). Minister Khaleel traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, for the 36CHMM and the World Health Assembly, which began on May 23.

Notably, the 77th World Health Assembly is slated to take place on May 28.

Source(s): PsmNews

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President calls world leaders to unite to end Gaza genocide

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President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu has voiced out the urgent need for international action to address the escalating conflict in the Middle East.

Beginning his national address at the opening of the Plenary session, President Muizzu drew attention to Israel’s continued defiance of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) order to halt its attacks on the Palestinian people in Rafah. He called on world leaders attending the conference to unite in their demand for an immediate cessation of hostilities.

“As we speak, Israel is defying the ICJ’s order to immediately halt its attack on the Palestinian people in Rafah,” President Muizzu stated. “We, the world leaders at this Conference, must unite in calling on Israel to stop the war. Stop the apartheid. And stop the genocide immediately.”

Highlighting the shared vulnerabilities of Small Island Developing States to climate change, President Muizzu expressed empathy with Palestine, noting that both feel marginalized by the international system. He stressed the necessity for Israeli leaders to face justice and be held accountable for their actions.

President Muizzu’s remarks underscored the gravity of the situation in Rafah and the broader implications for international peace and security. His call to action resonated with the conference’s theme of resilience and collaboration, urging global leaders to stand together against injustice and violence.

The SIDS4 conference, which brings together leaders and stakeholders from Small Island Developing States, serves as a crucial platform for addressing not only regional issues but also pressing global challenges. President Muizzu’s impassioned plea highlighted the interconnectedness of global peace efforts and the need for a unified response to crises affecting any part of the world.

The conference, themed “Charting the Course Towards Resilient Prosperity,” aims to foster sustainable development and resilience among small island nations. However, President Muizzu’s remarks poignantly reminded attendees that achieving these goals requires a collective stand against all forms of oppression and violence, wherever they occur.

Source(s): PsmNews

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