Cablegate: Maldives: Proposals for Human Rights And
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 COLOMBO 000856
DEPARTMENT FOR SA, SA/INS, DRL/PHD FOR K. CUMBERLAND
E.O. 12958: DECL: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KDEM SOCI EAID ELAB MV
SUBJECT: Maldives: Proposals for Human Rights and
Refs: (A) Colombo 842
- (B) State 88764
- (C) State 65803
1. (U) This message is Sensitive But Unclassified --
Please handle accordingly.
2. (U) Per Ref B, Mission submits two small-grant
project proposals for DRL Human Rights and Democracy
funding for the Maldives. Detailed below, the first
project involves the Maldivian Human Rights Commission
(Para 3) and requests $30,000. The second project, in
support of the development of Maldivian labor laws (Para
4), requests $17,980. The combined funding request for
these two proposals is $47,980. Project descriptions
are keyed to information requested in Para 6 of Ref B.
3. (SBU) Project One: Developing the Capacity of the
Maldivian Human Rights Commission:
PROJECT NARRATIVE: The Maldives is a moderate Islamic
nation. A strong supporter of the global war on
terrorism, the Maldivian government is in the process of
pursuing political reforms to strengthen democratic
freedoms and make the government more accountable. (For
further information on the Maldivian political situation
and the local reform agenda see Ref A review of SA A/S
Rocca's recent visit to Maldives.) One of the first and
most visible illustrations of these reforms was the
December 2003 establishment by Maldivian President
Maumoon Abdul Gayoom of the Maldivian Human Rights
Commission (HRC). To date, the Commission has been well
received by Maldivian politicians, government officials,
civil society, and international organizations. At
present, a draft bill to formalize the HRC and cement
its autonomy from the government is being reviewed by
the Maldivian Majlis (Parliament).
The Maldivian HRC is in its nascent stage and would
welcome guidance from recognized human rights
professionals. In discussions with Embassy officials,
members of the Commission have requested USG support in
the areas of training and capacity building. Given the
Commission's limited finances for travel and limited
ability to develop its own international programming,
Mission proposes a project for three U.S.-based human
rights experts to visit the Maldives for consultations
with Maldivian HRC members. If accepted, DRL funding
for this project would finance three trips, one for each
of three U.S. participants, of approximately 10 days
each. Visits would occur at three month intervals over
a period of six months.
Specifically, during their time in the Maldives, the
U.S. experts would work with their Maldivian
counterparts to help them develop a greater
understanding for human rights decision-making,
including how to deal with complaints involving the law
enforcement and judicial systems. U.S. experts would
also help build the members' capacity in developing an
action plan and long-term goals for the Commission. The
U.S. visitors would also aid the Commission staff in
building effective methods for educating the public on
Mission believes this is the best option for responding
to the immediate needs of the Commission, as outlined by
the following considerations:
-- Embassy Colombo's Mission Performance Plan (MPP)
specifically calls for USG efforts to help increase
respect for human rights, including through support of
the Maldivian HRC.
-- At present, Mission's Public Affairs Office is
programming a limited number of Commission members for
International Visitor Programs (IVP) in the U.S. This
project proposal regarding the HRC would take direct
advantage of the contacts developed by the IVPs during
their U.S. visits, as well as provide additional
exposure and resources for the majority of Commissioners
not awarded an IVP trip. (FYI -- The Embassy public
affairs office will soon conclude a "rule of law"
project with the External Resources Division of the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The project has paid for
legislation drafting seminars, study tours for judges,
and acquisitions for law libraries.)
-- USAID does not have a presence in Maldives, thereby
severely limiting other avenues of possible USG aid.
-- As Maldives is a small country with a population of
280,000, it may be difficult to attract and retain the
interest of large human rights organizations working in
the areas of assistance and training.
-- Mission has spoken with the HRC, which indicated it
would warmly support this proposal.
SHORT- AND LONG- TERM GOALS: The short term goal is to
bring the staff at the HRC into immediate contact with
established experts in the human rights field, as the
Commissioners have limited ability, funds, and contacts
to undertake their own international programming.
Complementing that, over the long term, the HRC will
build capacity, attain acceptance both locally and among
international human rights organizations. Commissioners
will also become acquainted with worldwide networks of
human rights professionals.
EXPECTED IMPACT: Through interaction with international
human rights colleagues, the Maldivian HRC will gain an
increased capacity for dealing with human rights issues,
understand nuances in investigating human rights
complaints, and develop the ability to communicate an
understanding of these issues to the Maldivian public.
LENGTH OF PROJECT AND TIMELINE: The project is expected
to last six months, with one visit by a U.S. human
rights expert at the beginning of the program and the
second and third trips following at three month
intervals. The anticipated start of this project is
EVALUATION PLANS: Mission would monitor: the
development of outreach documents; progress in
developing an action plan for the Commission, and other
activities through the life of the project.
$30,000: Total Request
$15,000: Airfare (Roundtrip U.S.-Maldives for 3 people)
$ 6,000: Honorarium for 3 people for 10 days
$ 7,500: Per Diem for 3 people for 10 days
$ 1,500: Miscellaneous Expense/Tech support
EMBASSY PERSONNEL: Action Officer is Deputy Political
Chief Andrea Tomaszewicz. The back-up officer will be
political officer Cody Taylor. No new personnel are
anticipated mid-project. Philip Frayne, who will arrive
in August 2004 as PAO, will have sufficient and adequate
grant signing authority.
4. (SBU) Project Two: Developing Maldivian labor laws:
In addition to promoting the human rights issues in
Maldives, Post has also promoted improved labor rights,
including accession to the core ILO conventions and
passage of modern labor legislation that ensures freedom
of association, the right to form unions and the right
to bargain collectively. We have a unique opportunity
during this reform period in Maldives to make a
significant impact in a fairly short period regarding
human and labor rights issues.
PROJECT NARRATIVE: Post, in consultation with the
American Center for International Labor Solidarity
(ACILS) and the GORM, proposes that DRL support a
national seminar on a new labor bill that is under
consideration in Maldives. Maldives' small size and
dense population makes this kind of forum particularly
effective and high profile. It could prove very useful
for promoting inclusion of the kind of modern, flexible
labor rights issues in the new law that could spur
Maldives' development and bring it into compliance with
core ILO conventions.
Labor rights in Maldives are virtually non-existent.
Though there are laws about minimum age of employment
and guidelines about the formation of associations,
nothing is said about the recognition of worker's rights
or collective bargaining. In addition, Maldives has not
signed and ratified the eight core ILO conventions. As
a result of a new focus on human rights, President
Gayoom has asked the GORM Attorney General to begin
reviewing labor compliance issues.
We propose a three-day seminar, with presentations by a
labor law expert from Thailand and a series of workshops
run by representatives from other South Asian
Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries.
ACILS would serve as the primary expertise databank,
bringing regional labor law experts from Thailand and
Sri Lanka and representatives from the highly successful
Worker Employers Bilateral Council of Pakistan (WEBCOP).
The audience would be workers' representatives, employer
representatives, chambers of commerce and industries,
members of parliament and other government officials.
This kind of stakeholder forum has been used before in
Maldives and could aid in the successful implementation
of new labor legislation. Mission has spoken with
Maldivian contacts, who have indicated that they would
support this proposal.
$17,980: Total Request
$ 4,800: Accommodation for 8 participants for 4 nights
$ 3,680: Per Diem 8 participants for 5 days
$ 1,500: Reception for 35 people
$ 1,500: Conference Hall Rental (3 days)
$ 1,000: Airfare (Sri Lanka-Male-SL - 4 people)
$ 2,700: Airfare (Pakistan-Male-Pakistan - 3 people)
$ 800: Airfare (Bangkok-Male-Bangkok - 1 person)
$ 2,000: Miscellaneous Expenses/Technical Support
EMBASSY PERSONNEL: Action Officer is economic officer
Teresa Manlowe until December 2004, followed by Rick
Merrin, who will arrive in February 2005. The back-up
officer will be Economic Section Chief Dean Thompson.
Philip Frayne, who will arrive in August 2004 as PAO,
will have sufficient and adequate grant signing
SHORT-TERM GOALS: Launch debate on workers rights and
improved labor-management relations; provide
coordinated, stakeholder-approved input for new labor
legislation; stimulate networking with organizations
that could provide long-term assistance to GORM
(including WEBCOP and ACILS).
LONG-TERM GOALS: Increased level of debate about
workers rights; improved working conditions for all
sectors; improved labor-management relations; increased
capacity for nascent labor union sector; development for
a framework to begin and normalize tripartite (labor,
management, government) discussions on labor issues in
EXPECTED IMPACT: New, modern labor legislation which
protects workers rights and allows for the right of
association and collective bargaining.
LENGTH OF PROJECT: Prep time: 3 months; Seminar: 3
EVALUATION PLANS: Continued Post interaction with GORM
to monitor the passage and implementation of labor law.