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Maldives quits Commonwealth over reports of human rights abuses

Maldives Foreign Minister, Mohamed Asim, announced his government will withdraw from the Commonwealth, after criticism over the country’s human rights record.
“The decision to leave the Commonwealth was difficult, but inevitable,” he said, as the foreign ministry release a statement announcing the move. 
The move followed a warning given by the Commonwealth of possible suspension if adequate progress on democracy was not fulfilled. Concerns include the detention of political leaders, reinstatement of capital punishment and strict defamation laws.
Mr Asim commented that the Commonwealth has not recognized the state’s progress and seeks to become involved in domestic political discourse – contrary to UN principles.
Pakistan, Fiji, Nigeria and Zimbabwe have previously been suspended from the Commonwealth due to government oppression and violence.
David White, the chief of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), said the decision to leave marked “a sad day”.
“We did call for them to be suspended, but that was in order to call for more support for the Commonwealth to push for political reform.”
A spokeswoman for the CHRI’s Delhi office criticised the move by the Maldives,  saying the government was sending a message that is was “no longer committed to democracy and rule of law”.
“It’s a huge setback to civil society and the democracy movement,” she said. “The national institutions are really failing, the entire democratic structure that the country committed to in 2008 is under threat.”

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