Former Maldivian Vice President Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Ghafoor’s legal team made a renewed pitch to the Indian government to grant him political asylum.
In a statement, Adeeb’s legal representatives Guernica said – “It is repeated that the former Vice-President of the Republic of Maldives, Mr Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Ghafoor, has sought the protection of India and has initiated the process of claiming asylum, the Indian authorities are therefore under an obligation to consider his request and to ensure that he is not arbitrarily handed over to the authorities of the Republic of Maldives where he is at risk of ill treatment.”
India, in a dilemma, did not take Adeeb into custody since he arrived in a cargo ship disguised as a crew member on 01 August.
Tamil Nadu DGP JK Tripathy told The Lede that Adeeb was “still in the waters, on the barge and he is not in our custody.”
An Intelligence Bureau official told The Lede on condition of anonymity that since Adeeb had entered illegally and he was a “VIP from a friendly country,” the Indian authorities are not sure as to how exactly to proceed.
He also said that Adeeb had enough food and water in the ship. He added that the barge carrying Adeeb was about 500 metres off the Tuticorin old port.
Reporters were not allowed access into the old port in Tuticorin and security was tightened as Adeeb continues to remain there.
Sources said that the Maldivian authorities were on their way to Tuticorin as this report was published.
A statement from his international legal team Guernica said – “We would therefore remind the Indian Government of its obligations under international law, in that it is required to respect the principle of ‘non-refoulement’, and thus, it is unlawful to return a person to the place where their life or freedom would be threatened.
All persons have the Right to Liberty, and, Security of Person, and further, all persons who seek asylum ought to be able to expect to be protected by the host nation upon being identified as such. It matters not that the former Vice-President may have entered the country illegally, once a claim of asylum is made, the appropriate authorities are required to consider it.
India as a nation can rightly be proud of its history in protecting those fleeing to safety and it would therefore be unconscionable to tarnish that reputation now. To return the former Vice-President to the Republic of Maldives, where there is credible evidence that he will be mistreated, is not only unlawful, but, sets a very dangerous precedent for any other individual that seeks to flee to safety.
It has been reported that law enforcement officials from the Republic of Maldives are expected to arrive in Chennai imminently. We would remind the Governments of both India and Maldives that there is an established legal process that must be followed and anything short of that will constitute rendition which is unlawful in both States.”
Sources in Adeeb’s legal team confirmed that there has been no response from the United Nations so far to his appeal for political asylum.
“We therefore call upon the Government of India to consider the application in an appropriate
manner and offer Adeeb protection whilst his claim is under review. We repeat our call to the UN Office of the High Commission for Refugees to act with diligence in considering his application and we call upon the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights to ensure that his rights are protected,” read the statement.
It is unclear as to whether India will hand over Adeeb to the Maldivian authorities or take up the process of political asylum.