Maldives 2008 Constitution

Table of Contents


16. Guarantee of Rights

  1. This Constitution guarantees to all persons, in a manner that is not contrary to any tenet of Islam, the rights and freedoms contained within this Chapter, subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by a law enacted by the People’s Majlis in a manner that is not contrary to this Constitution. Any such law enacted by the People’s Majlis can limit the rights and freedoms to any extent only if demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
  2. The limitation of a right or freedom specified in this Chapter by a law enacted by the People’s Majlis as provided for in this Constitution, and in order to protect and maintain the tenets of Islam, shall not be contrary to article (a).
  3. In deciding whether a right or freedom in this Chapter, has been limited in accordance with article (a) and (b), a court must be fully cognisant of and make reference to all the facts, including:
    1. the nature and character of the right or freedom;
    2. the purpose and importance of limiting the right or freedom;
    3. the extent and manner of limiting the right or freedom;
    4. the relationship between the limitation of the right or freedom and the importance of the right or freedom;
    5. the extent to which the objective for which the right or freedom has been limited could have been achieved by limiting the right or freedom to a lesser degree;
    6. the extent to which the right or freedom must be limited in order to protect the tenets of Islam, where the right or freedom has been limited pursuant to article (b).
  4. The onus of establishing that the limitation to any extent, of a right or freedom included in this Chapter is within the reasonable limitations prescribed in this Constitution is on the State or the person asserting the limitation of the right or freedom.

17. Non-discrimination

  1. Everyone is entitled to the rights and freedoms included in this Chapter without discrimination of any kind, including race, national origin, colour, sex, age, mental or physical disability, political or other opinion, property, birth or other status, or native island.
  2. Special assistance or protection to disadvantaged individuals or groups, or to groups requiring special social assistance, as provided in law shall not be deemed to be discrimination, as provided for in article (a).

18. Duty of the State

It is the duty of the State to follow the provisions of this Constitution, and to protect and promote the rights and freedoms provided in this Chapter.

19. Freedom from restraint

A citizen is free to engage in any conduct or activity that is not expressly prohibited by Islamic Shari’ah or by law. No control or restraint may be exercised against any person unless it is expressly authorised bylaw.

20. Equality

Every individual is equal before and under the law, and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law.

21. Right to life

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person, and the right not be deprived thereof to any extent except pursuant to a law made in accordance with Article 16 of this Constitution.

22. Protection of the environment

The State has a fundamental duty to protect and preserve the natural environment, biodiversity, resources and beauty of the country for the benefit of present and future generations. The State shall undertake and promote desirable economic and social goals through ecologically balanced sustainable development and shall take measures necessary to foster conservation, prevent pollution, the extinction of any species and ecological degradation from any such goals.

23. Economic and social rights

Every citizen the following rights pursuant to this Constitution, and the State undertakes to achieve the progressive realisation of these rights by reasonable measures within its ability and resources:

  1. adequate and nutritious food and clean water;
  2. clothing and housing;
  3. good standards of health care, physical and mental;
  4. a healthy and ecologically balanced environment;
  5. equal access to means of communication, the State media, transportation facilities, and the natural resources of the country;
  6. the establishment of a sewage system of a reasonably adequate standard on every inhabited island;
  7. the establishment of an electricity system of a reasonably adequate standard on every inhabited island that is commensurate to that island.

24. Privacy

Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his private communications. Every person must respect these rights with respect to others.

25. No slavery or forced labour

  1. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude, or be required to perform forced labour.
  2. Compulsory military service, service required in cases of emergency or calamity threatening the life or well-being of the community, or service required pursuant to a court order shall not be deemed to be contrary to article (a).

26. Right to vote and run for public office

Unless otherwise provided in this Constitution, every citizen of the Maldives eighteen years of age or older has the right:

  1. to vote in elections, and in public referendums, which shall be held by secret ballot;
  2. to run for public office;
  3. to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

27. Freedom of expression

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought and the freedom to communicate opinions and expression in a manner that is not contrary to any tenet of Islam.

28. Freedom of the media

Everyone has the right to freedom of the press, and other means of communication, including the right to espouse, disseminate and publish news, information, views and ideas. No person shall be compelled to disclose the source of any information that is espoused, disseminated or published by that person.

29. Freedom of acquiring and imparting knowledge

Everyone has the freedom to acquire and impart knowledge, information and learning.

30. Freedom to form political parties, associations and societies

  1. Every citizen has the right to establish and to participate in the activities of political parties.
  2. Everyone has the freedom to form associations and societies, including the following:
    1. the right to establish and participate in any association or society for economic, social, educational or cultural or purposes;
    2. the right to form trade unions, to participate or not participate in their activities.

31. Right to strike

Every person employed in the Maldives and all other workers have the freedom to stop work and to strike in order to protest.

32. Freedom of assembly

Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly without prior permission of the State.

33. Right to protect reputation and name

Everyone has the right to protect one’s reputation and good name.

34. Right to marry and establishment of the family

  1. Every person of marriageable age as determined by law has the right to marry, and to establish a family as specified in law. The family, being the natural and fundamental unit of society, is entitled to special protection by society and the State.
  2. Children must be afforded special protection as specified in law in the event of a marital breakdown of the parents.

35. Special protection to children, young, elderly and disadvantaged people

  1. Children and young people are entitled to special protection and special assistance from the family, the community and the State. Children and young people shall not be harmed, sexually abused, or discriminated against in any manner and shall be free from unsuited social and economic exploitation. No person shall obtain undue benefit from their labour.
  2. Elderly and disadvantaged persons are entitled to protection and special assistance from the family, the community and the State.

36. Right to education

  1. Everyone has the right to education without discrimination of any kind.
  2. Primary and secondary education shall be freely provided by the State. It is imperative on parents and the State to provide children with primary and secondary education. Opportunity for higher education shall be generally accessible to all citizens.
  3. Education shall strive to inculcate obedience to Islam, instil love for Islam, foster respect for human rights, and promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all people.

37. Right to work

  1. Every citizen has the right to engage in any employment or occupation.
  2. Everyone is entitled to just and safe conditions of work, fair wages, equal remuneration for work of equal value, and equal opportunity for promotion.
  3. Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including limits on hours of work and periodic holidays with pay.
  4. Everyone has the right to spend time at rest and leisure. In order to provide this right to each employed person, the maximum number of working hours have to be determined as well as the length of paid holidays.

38. Right of pension

Every one engaged in employment with the State shall have the right of pension as provided by law.

39. Right to participate in cultural life

  1. Everyone has the right to participate in the cultural life of the nation, and to benefit from literary and artistic endeavours.
  2. The State shall promote education, culture, literature and the arts, within the limits of its resources.

40. Right to acquire and hold property

  1. Every citizen has the right to acquire, own, inherit, transfer or otherwise transact of such property.
  2. Private property shall be inviolable, and may only be compulsorily acquired by the State for the public good, as expressly prescribed by law, and as authorised by order of the court. Fair and adequate compensation shall be paid in all cases, as determined by the court.
  3. Nothing in this Article prevents any law authorising a court to order the forfeiture(without the giving of any compensation) of illegally acquired or possessed property, or enemy property.
  4. Property of a person shall not be forfeited in substitution for any offence.

41. Freedom of movement and establishment

  1. Every citizen has the freedom to enter, remain in and leave the Maldives, and to travel within the Maldives.
  2. Every citizen has the right to move to, and take up residence on, any inhabited island of the Maldives.
  3. Every citizen shall have equal access to the receipt of rights and benefits from any island where he has established residency.

42. Fair and transparent hearings

  1. In the determination of one’s civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent court or tribunal established by law.
  2. All judicial proceedings in the Maldives shall be conducted with justice, transparency and impartiality.
  3. Trials of any matter shall be held publicly, but the presiding judge may exclude the public from all or part of a trial in accordance with democratic norms:
    1. in the interests of public morals, public order or national security;
    2. where the interest of juveniles or the victims of a crime so require; or
    3. in other special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice.
  4. All judgements or orders of a Court shall be pronounced publicly, unless the Court specifically orders otherwise for the reasons stipulated in article (c). All publicly pronounced judgements or orders shall be available to the public.

43. Fair administrative action

  1. Everyone has the right to administrative action that is lawful, procedurally fair, and expeditious.
  2. Everyone whose rights have been adversely affected by administrative action has the right to be given written reasons.
  3. Where the rights of a person, a group or community has been adversely affected by administrative action, every such person, group or every person who may be directly affected by such action has the right to submit the matter to court.

44. Personal liability

The application of the criminal law or criminal procedure, including the conduct of investigations, criminal proceedings and enforcement of sentences as provided by law, shall extend to the accused person only and shall not affect the legal rights or obligations of any other person.

45. No unlawful arrest or detention

Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained, arrested or imprisoned except as provided by law enacted by the People’s Majlis in accordance with Article 16 of this Constitution.

46. Power of arrest and detention

No person shall be arrested or detained for an offence unless the arresting officer observes the offence being committed, or has reasonable and probable grounds or evidence to believe the person has committed an offence or is about to commit an offence, or under the authority of an arrest warrant issued by the court.

47. Search and seizure

  1. No person shall be subject to search or seizure unless there is reasonable cause.
  2. Residential property shall be inviolable, and shall not be entered without the consent of the resident, except to prevent immediate and serious harm to life or property, or under the express authorisation of an order of the Court.

48. Rights on arrest or detention

Everyone has the right on arrest or detention:

  1. to be informed immediately of the reasons therefore, and in writing within at least twenty four hours;
  2. to retain and instruct legal counsel without delay and to be informed of this right, and to have access to legal counsel facilitated until the conclusion of the matter for which he is under arrest or detention;
  3. to remain silent, except to establish identity, and to be informed of this right;
  4. to be brought within twenty four hours before a Judge, who has power to determine the validity of the detention, to release the person with or without conditions, or to order the continued detention of the accused.

49. Release of accused

No person shall be detained in custody prior to sentencing, unless the danger of the accused absconding or not appearing at trial, the protection of the public, or potential interference with witnesses or evidence dictate otherwise. The release may be subject to conditions of bail or other assurances to appear as required by the court.

50. Prompt investigation and prosecution

After notice of an alleged offence has been brought to the attention of the investigating authorities, the matter shall be investigated promptly, and where warranted, the Prosecutor General shall lay charges as quickly as possible.

51. Rights of the accused

Everyone charged with an offence has the right:

  1. to be informed without delay of the specific offence in a language understood by the accused;
  2. to be tried within a reasonable time;
  3. not to be compelled to testify;
  4. to an interpreter to be provided by the State where he does not speak the language in which the proceedings are conducted, or is deaf or mute;
  5. to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence and to communicate with and instruct legal counsel of his own choosing;
  6. to be tried in person, and to defend himself through legal counsel of his own choosing;
  7. to examine the witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses;
  8. to be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

52. Confessions and illegal evidence

No confession shall be admissible in evidence unless made in court by an accused who is in a sound state of mind. No statement or evidence must be obtained from any source by compulsion or by unlawful means and such statement or evidence is inadmissible in evidence.

53. Assistance of legal counsel

  1. Everyone has the right to retain legal counsel at any instance assistance is required.
  2. In serious criminal cases, the State a lawyer for an accused person and instruct where legal shall provide who cannot afford to engage one.

54. No degrading treatment or torture

No person shall be subjected to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, or to torture.

55. No imprisonment for non-fulfilment of contractual obligation

No person shall be imprisoned on the ground of non-fulfillment of a contractual obligation.

56. Right to appeal

Everyone related to a matter has the right to appeal a conviction and sentence, or judgement or order in a criminal or civil matter.

57. Humane treatment of arrested or detained persons

Everyone deprived of liberty through arrest or detention as provided by law, pursuant to an order of the court, or being held in State care for social reasons, shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person. A person may be deprived of the rights or freedoms specified in this Chapter only to the extent required for the purpose for which he is deprived of his liberty.

58. Compensation

Everyone who has been arrested or detained without legal authority or justification has the right to be compensated.

59. Retrospective legislation

  1. No person shall be found guilty of any act or omission which did not constitute an offence under Islamic Shari’ah or law at the time committed. Nor shall a more severe penalty be imposed than the one applicable at the time the offence was committed. If the punishment for an offence has been reduced between the time of commission and the time of sentencing, the accused is entitled to the benefit of the lesser punishment.
  2. This Article shall not prejudice the trial and punishment of any person for any act which was criminal according to international law.

60. Prohibition of double jeopardy

  1. If an accused is acquitted of an offence by a court, he shall not be tried again for the same or substantially the same offence. If an accused is found guilty and punished for an offence he shall not be tried or punished again for the same or substantially the same offence.
  2. The principle stated in article (a) does not apply to appeals relating to the offence.

61. Publication of acts and regulations

  1. All statutes, regulations, government orders requiring compliance by citizens and government policies shall be published and made available to the public.
  2. No person may be subjected to any punishment except pursuant to a statute or pursuant to a regulation made under authority of a statute, which has been made available to the public and which defines the criminal offence and the punishment for commission of the offence.
  3. All information concerning government decisions and actions shall be made public, except information that is declared to be State secrets by a law enacted by the People’s Majlis.
  4. Every citizen has the right to obtain all information possessed by the Government about that person.

62. Retention of other rights

  1. The enumeration of rights and freedoms in this Chapter are guaranteed equally to female and male persons.
  2. The enumeration of rights and freedoms individually in this Chapter shall not be construed to deny or negate other rights retained by the people which are not specified in this Chapter.

63. Voidance of laws inconsistent with fundamental rights

Any law or part of any law contrary to the fundamental rights or freedoms guaranteed by this Chapter shall be void or void to the extent of such inconsistency.

64. Non-compliance with unlawful orders

No employee of the State shall impose any orders on a person except under authority of a law. Everyone has the right not to obey an unlawful order.

65. Application to court to obtain a remedy

Anyone whose rights or freedoms, as guaranteed by this Chapter, have been infringed or denied may apply to a court to obtain a just remedy.

66. Voidance of laws inconsistent with rights and freedoms

All existing statutes, regulations, decrees and notices inconsistent with the fundamental rights and freedoms provisions in this Chapter shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, become void on the commencement of this Constitution.

67. Responsibilities and duties

The exercise and enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms is inseparable from the performance of responsibilities and duties, and it is the responsibility of every citizen:

  1. to respect and protect the rights and freedoms of others;
  2. to foster tolerance, mutual respect, and friendship among all people and groups;
  3. to contribute to the well-being and advancement of the community;
  4. to promote the sovereignty, unity, security, integrity and dignity of the Maldives;
  5. to respect the Constitution and the rule of law;
  6. to promote democratic values and practices in a manner that is not inconsistent with any tenet of Islam;
  7. to preserve and protect the State religion of Islam, culture, language and heritage of the country;
  8. to preserve and protect the natural environment, biodiversity, resources and beauty of the country and to abstain from all forms of pollution and ecological degradation;
  9. to respect the national flag, state emblem and the national anthem.

Every person in the Maldives must also respect these duties.

68. Interpretation

When interpreting and applying the rights and freedoms contained within this Chapter, a court or tribunal shall promote the values that underlie an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom, and shall consider international treaties to which the Maldives is a party.

69. Non-destructive interpretation of Constitution

No provision of the Constitution shall be interpreted or translated in a manner that would grant to the State or any group or person the right to engage in any activity or perform any act aimed at the destruction of the rights and freedoms set out in this Constitution.