Mauritius will loose ITLOS case: AG Riffath

Attorney General Ibrahim Riffath | Photo: AGO

Malé, Maldives – Attorney General of Maldives, Ibrahim Riffath has stated that Mauritius will not win the dispute concerning delimitation of the maritime boundary between Mauritius and Maldives in the Indian Ocean case going on at Special Chamber of International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).

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.

AG told that the reason for this is that Mauritius was declaring the baselines based on a reef which is visible during low tide and that it is not a rule that can be considered in the light of international maritime conventions.

He also added that Mauritius cannot win the continental shelf issue submitted by Maldives in 2010.

Mauritius is also aware that the country has passed the deadline to make a claim on the continental shelf and has not provided sufficient scientific evidence or additional information, he said.

Mauritius wants to submit a joint continental shelf claim with Maldives, but is unhappy that Maldives does not agree to that, and that the issue in ITLOS is that Maldives is not doing what the Mauritians want, Riffath said.

In the first place, this was done to protect the highest interests of the country.

Attorney General of Maldives, Ibrahim Riffath

AG told that in view of these factors, Mauritius’ case does not appear to be successful, and also assured that the country would not succeed in international courts, especially in the continental shelf dispute.

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.