Public Statement - The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concerns about the attack on human rights lawyer Mahfooz Saeed in Maldives

TORONTO, Dec. 7, 2015 /CNW/ - Mahfooz Saeed is a human rights lawyer and member of the legal team for the former president of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed.

It has come to our attention that on 4 September 2015, Mahfooz Saeed was attacked and stabbed in the head by two unidentified men as he was sitting on his motorcycle. He was rushed to hospital where he underwent a three-hour surgery to remove the knife, which remained lodged in his head. The last reports on this case indicated that his condition was stable and that he was expected to recover.

Mahfooz Saeed has written blogs, which include criticisms of the Maldives judicial system, the increasing crime rate and the socioeconomic situation in the country. He has called for judicial reform. The attack on Mahfooz Saeed occurred a week after he spoke critically of the current government at a rally for the Maldivian Democratic Party and a week prior the members of the former president's legal team visiting the Maldives to meet with the former president.

The Law Society of Upper Canada urges the government of the Maldives to comply with Articles 16 and 23 of the United Nations' Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers

Article 16 states:

Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economics or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.

Moreover, Article 23 states:

Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the rights to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in a lawful organization.

The Law Society urges the government of the Maldives to:


guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mahfooz Saeed;


conduct a fair, impartial and independent investigation into the attack on Mahfooz Saeed in order to identify all those responsible, bring them to trial and apply to them civil, penal and/or administrative sanctions provided by law; and


ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments.

*The Law Society of Upper Canada is the governing body for more than 49,000 lawyers and 7,400 paralegals in the province of Ontario, Canada. The Treasurer is the head of the Law Society.

The mandate of the Law Society is to govern the legal profession in the public interest by upholding the independence, integrity and honour of the legal profession for the purpose of advancing the cause of justice and the rule of law.

SOURCE The Law Society of Upper Canada

For further information: Susan Tonkin, Communications Advisor - Media Relations, at 416-947-7605 or The Law Society of Upper Canada, Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON, M5H 2N6,


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