Washington -- The Institute on Religion and Public Policy strongly condemns the new constitution ratified by the Maldives' legislature yesterday. The constitution fails to provide basic guarantees of rights and freedoms in the country for non-Muslims and also violates internationally accepted human rights standards and norms.
Article 9, Section D states that "a non-Muslim may not become a citizen of the Maldives." By denying citizenship to some people on the basis of their religion, the country is violating religious minorities' freedom of worship.
"This denial of citizenship to non-Muslims is an extraordinarily harsh measure which places the Maldives among the worst countries in the world in regards to the legal foundation for freedom of religion and belief," said Institute President Joseph K. Grieboski.
In addition to denying non-Muslims citizenship, the new constitution establishes several other precepts which threaten the freedom of religion. The new constitution favors Sunni Islam over other forms of Islam, establishes certain aspects of Sharia law in the Maldives and limits the freedom of expression and thought to "manners" which are "not contrary to a tenet of Islam."
The Institute's Expert Committee on Legislation and Implementation is currently crafting a comprehensive analysis of the new constitution for expected release in September.