The European Parliament (EP) Thursday adopted a resolution calling on member states to consider imposing individual targeted sanctions over â€œthe deteriorating political and human rights situation in the Maldives and the increasingly authoritarian rule of President Abdulla Yameenâ€.
The resolution called on Maldivian authorities to reform the judiciary, release political prisoners, and to guarantee the constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly.
It urged the EU to â€œto make full use of all instruments at its disposal in order to promote respect for human rights and democratic principles in the Maldives, including by considering introducing temporary individual targeted sanctions against those undermining human rightsâ€.
Most MEPs observed that the situation has worsened since the EU parliament passed a resolution in December 2015 urging member states to freeze assets and impose travel bans against top officials.
Among issues of concern were the reintroduction of the death penalty, the murder of blogger Yameen Rasheed and the abduction of journalist Ahmed Rilwan, the growing number of Maldivians joining extremist groups, the suspension of one-third of licensed lawyers, and â€œthe forcible closure of the Maldivian Majlis to its members and the harassment, intimidation and arrest of elected members of parliamentâ€.
â€œI believe travel bans are an efficient tool at our disposal to hold the Maldives accountable,â€ suggested Ignazio Corrao, from the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group.
Europeans account for nearly half of tourist arrivals to the Maldives. With the UK, Germany, Italy and France among the top markets, more than 400,000 Europeans were recorded as of August.
â€œThe Maldivian government wants you to believe that the country is a paradise, this is simply not the case,â€ said Wajid Khan from theÂ Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.