AG didn’t share information about Chagos matter: Parliament

Parliament of Maldives | Photo: Majlis

Malé, Maldives – Parliament of Maldives has denied that Attorney General’s Office had shared information about the Chagos case with the Parliament.

The statement released by the parliament today read that, even though Attorney General Ibrahim Riffath had said at the press conference held at the President’s Office on the night of November 8, 2020 stating that the information regarding the complaint filed by Mauritius on August 23, 2019 with the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea regarding the disputed territorial waters between Maldives and Chagos had been shared with the parliament but it had not been shared.

The parliament also added that they did not receive the letter sent from President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to the Prime Minister of Mauritius on the Chagos issue nor any information on governments change in their stand on the resolution calling for the extradition of Chagos to Mauritius at the UN General Assembly.

Parliament also said it had sent two letters to the Attorney General’s Office in February this year requesting it to meet with the Attorney General and relevant officials of the office to clarify the matter, following media reports on the case and a letter from a private individual.

It was also stated that following the two letters, the Attorney General’s Office also sent two letters to the parliamentary committee containing information about the case, however the Attorney General’s Office then requested that all documents included with the letter be kept confidential. No further information has been shared with the parliament since those letters.

The parliament has also urged the authorities not to spread information that misleads the procedures for submitting matters to the parliament and obtaining approval.

Speaking at a press conference at the President’s Office last night regarding the Chagos matter, AG Riffath, who is representing Maldives at the international tribunal, said Mauritius and Maldives have a dispute over 4,687 square kilometers of territory.

Special Chamber of International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) took up the dispute between Mauritius and the Maldives over a 37,000-sq-mile (95,000 sq km) expanse of the Indian Ocean recently with both sides are claiming the fish-rich waters as their own economic zones. 

AG Riffath had told the nine-judge UN panel the case brought by Mauritius exists “primarily to advance its dispute with the United Kingdom”. 

Maldives government however sprang a surprise late last month by declaring that it supported Mauritius in its efforts to decolonize the Chagos Islands from the UK. Until this declaration, the Maldives had always backed the UK’s continuing control of the islands.

However, the revelation has raised concerns among the people with government receiving heavy criticism from all ends including former President Mohamed Nasheed, former President and opposition coalition leader former President Yameen Abdul Gayoom and three former attorney generals.

Maldives had previously voted against the resolution in the 2019 vote at the UN along with the United States, Hungary, Israel and Australia voted against the resolution, while 56 countries abstained from the vote. 116 nations were in favor of the motion, which sets a six-month deadline for Britain to withdraw from the Chagos island chain and for the islands to be reunified with neighboring Mauritius.