Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Iranian Parliament bans UN rapporteur for human rights

The Iranian Parliament has banned the UN rapporteur for human rights
from visiting the country, MP Mohammad-Karim Abedi said, Iran.ru

The foreign minister of the Maldives, Ahmed Shahid, was appointed as
the special UN rapporteur for human rights on June 17.

The UN human rights council introduced the special rapporteur's
position on March 24, 2011. 22 votes were given for and 14 against the
initiative. The rapporteurs will make a report to the General

The chairman of the Iranian human rights committee said that the USA,
UK and Israel are violators of human rights themselves. Abedi made
particular mention of violations during the attack on the Gaza
Stripvin 2008-2009.

Source: http://vestnikkavkaza.net

UN appoints Special Rapporteur on Iran

Former Foreign Minister of the Maldives Dr Ahmed Shaheed has been appointed UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, a high-profile post in the UN system.

The 47 Member States of the Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed the appointment of Dr Shaheed after he was selected from a list of candidates by the President of the Council.

Special Rapporteurs are endorsed by the Council to investigate countries and themes around the world, such as freedom of expression.

Candidates are usually figures with a record of experience dealing with the international community and other nation states.

The UN called on Iran to cooperate with Dr Shaheed and permit his access to the country, as well as provide necessary information.

He will present his findings to the UN General Assembly in September 2011, and produce a full report on the situation for the UN Human Rights Council in March 2012./-

Source: http://www.iranwpd.com

Online visa system from September

Sri Lanka’s online visa system will become operational before the onset of the European winter in September, the Immigration chief said yesterday. Nearly 70 percent of the project has already been completed and now we are working on the technical modalities, Immigration and Emigration chief Chulananda Perera told the Sunday Times.

He said that starting next week an awareness programme on the issue would be held for officials in the travel trade and hotel sectors and the media. Mr. Perera said a decision has yet to be taken on the fee for the visa, but added that it would be a flat rate, , irrespective of the country.

“Free visas on arrival in Colombo will be provided only to persons from countries that provide the same facility to Sri Lankans. At present only Singapore and the Maldives provide this facility to Sri Lankans and therefore the two countries will be exempted from visa requirement,” Mr. Perera said.

The online visa machinery would be operated round the clock at an office in Colombo and it would include officials from the Emigration and Immigration Department, the Defence Ministry and other relevant departments, Mr. Perera said.

People could download their Sri Lankan visa form from their personal computers while staying at home instead of going to the embassy, Mr. Perera said.

“This is an efficient system that has already been adopted by many countries and Sri Lanka needs to move into that era. Moreover, the system offers a better security screening of certain individuals,” he said.

Source: http://www.sundaytimes.lk

Deportation of illegal Bangladeshi workers

The tiny South Asian island state of Maldives, according to a FE report, plans to deport Bangladeshis working or staying there illegally. The deportation decision has, reportedly, come following continuous entry of illegal Bangladeshi workers to that country, having a population of only 400,000. According to the Maldivian foreign minister, the number of Bangladeshis in his country is around 50,000 now and one-third of them are either working or staying there illegally. The minister has urged Dhaka to take appropriate steps to stop illegal migration to the Maldives, which, he said has become a thriving business for unscrupulous manpower recruiting agencies.

The decision of the Maldivian authorities to deport illegal Bangladeshi nationals should be considered quite embarrassing for Bangladesh. However, the incidence of deportation of illegal Bangladeshi workers from the countries of the Middle East, South East Asia and Europe is not infrequent. It does take place within or beyond the knowledge of the authorities concerned in Dhaka. But the issue of deportation is neither taken seriously nor does it give rise to any feeling of embarrassment here.

Hundreds of thousands Bangladesh nationals are working in countries across the world, with their heavy concentration in the Middle East and Southeast Asia and remitting more than $10 billion a year, a vital economic lifeline of the country. However, a good number of them are illegal workers having no valid work permits. But remittance coming from such illegal workers has been not without a cost. The illegal workers, who generally enter carrying tourist visas and overstay, are not liked by the authorities of the countries where they are employed. This has created a sort of image problem for Bangladesh in the outside world.

One may like it or not but the fact remains that because of the illegal entry or overstay of Bangladeshis, the immigration officials at many international airports do not show proper courtesy to Bangladesh passport-holders. On occasions even holders of valid visas are deliberately subjected to hassles. The issue of illegal Bangladeshi workers loudly indicates to two factors--- lack of employment opportunities at home and highhandedness of the unscrupulous manpower agents. The problem of unemployment or under-employment is an economic issue having wider implications and it cannot be resolved overnight.

Most Bangladeshi migrant workers are unskilled and the state has not been able to create the conditions for facilitating jobs even for a fraction of the unemployed unskilled or semi-skilled people. The same is true in the case of educated workforce. However, the service sector, which now contributes more than 50 per cent of the GDP, has been absorbing a substantial number of professionals, skilled and unskilled workers. Yet without ensuring adequate investment both by the private and public sectors, the problem of unemployment, which has been a proven-source of many social ills, would continue to stay.

The government, however, if it desires so, can, at least, deal with rogue manpower agents who lure unsuspecting unskilled workers and send them abroad with false visas or work permits. Such illegal workers do always remain vulnerable to police torture and many other dangers. Death stalks them while they try to enter countries in Europe or Southeast Asia illegally using sea or land routes. But the authorities here other than cancellation of a few licences have done nothing to mete out strong punishment to evil manpower agents. Exemplary punishment, it is felt, would help curb the sending of workers abroad with forged documents, to a large extent.

Source: http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Vice President Urges Not to Criminalize Drug Users

Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed has said, in the Maldives, convincing people that drug use was a social and a medical problem remains a huge task.

Noting that, although it was easy to see drug use as a criminal issue, he said “if you really want to be serious and help this people to recover and to be reintegrated in to our communities, then we have to see from a social perspective.”

He made the remarks at the opening ceremony of South Asia Regional Training on Treatment and Rehabilitation for Treatment Professionals organized jointly by Colombo Plan, US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and UNODC.

Speaking on the drug issue in the South Asia region, the Vice President emphasized that drug use was directly related social, political and economic issues in the country.

He said drug use has become an increasingly “important issue in our region and public policy has a lot to do with that – distribution of wealth, condition of poverty, degradation and social marginalization all contribute to worsening drug situation.”

“Wherever it is, people resort to drugs because they want to escape from pain, from poverty, from suffering,” he added.

In his remarks this morning, the Vice President referred to the recommendations of a groundbreaking report on global drug situation by the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

He said the report that calls for major reforms of global drug prohibition regime, also echoed the calls for strengthening of services for health and treatment of drug users, which he said was the most important recommendation of the report.

The training workshop that began today in Bandos Island Resort and Spa will be held from 13 to 22 June.

Source: http://www.presidencymaldives.gov.mv

Maldives to sign Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court

The parliament today endorsed a proposal to sign the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

In today’s parliament sitting, 61 out of the 64 members present voted in favour of the proposal while three voted against it. Only one member abstained.

Presenting the parliamentary National Security Committee’s findings, Chair Abdulla Yamin said the committee sought the suggestions of the Attorney General’s (AG) Office, Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office and Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM).

Mulaku MP Yamin stressed that most countries of the world adopted the treaty because of the fear that some trials could not be held in the country.

Yamin said the International Criminal Court (ICC) has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

“All the countries that sign the treaty believe that such cases should be looked into with an international jurisdiction. Several countries that want to look into such cases through international jurisdictions sign the treaty in the belief that the establishment of the International Criminal Court will strengthen the international justice system,” he said.

Yamin noted that joining the treaty would strengthen the Maldives’ criminal justice system and the human rights record and would facilitate in drafting new legislations regarding the treaty.

Source: http://www.haveeru.com.mv

Hilton Maldives Iru Fushi Launches New Restaurant, ‘Bamboo’

Hilton Maldives Iru Fushi Resort & Spa opens its newest restaurant this February, ‘Bamboo’. Created specifically to introduce new flavours to the five-star resort’s guests, Bamboo offers a taste of casual dining from across south and south-east Asia with a menu that features dishes as varied as Japanese sushi and Chinese dim sum to Sri Lankan and Vietnamese specialties.

“Bamboo is a beautiful little restaurant where guests can enjoy fresh cuisine from around Asia,” says Food and Beverage Manager Stephan Faessler. “We focussed on offering our interpretation of typical street food, such as sizzling hot dishes served fast and fresh from the hot wok or steamer, superbly presented sushi and sashimi as well as a quintessential collection of soups, salads, curries, noodle and rice dishes.”

Surrounded by lush tropical greenery in a snug setting by the resort’s main bar, Bamboo is open for lunch and dinner. Diners can expect to enjoy pure, full-flavored Asian delicacies served quickly in a beautiful resort environment where Thai, Singaporean and Japanese dishes sit comfortably next to Sri Lankan, Chinese and Malay specialties in sight of the Indian Ocean.

Source: http://www.breakingtravelnews.com

Planing a trip to Maldives

Q: Hi, I am planning a trip to Maldives in January but there are so many wonderful islands to choose from. What is the best island and best resort for diving in January? Is one week long enough or should we go for more? Thank you, Linsey

A: Since the islands in Maldives are scattered over a large area, and the best diving is found inside and outside the atolls' lagoons and in the channels in between, the best way to see the region is by liveaboard.

The highlight for Maldives diving is Ari Atoll where there are big schools of fish from big whale sharks to barracuda. Ari Atoll spans over 40 km in length and as it's the second largest atoll in the Maldives with 105 small islands, there are many great dive spots. A liveaboard can cover the long distances between the best dive sites.

But if you prefer to stay in a resort, Mirihi is the most popular in Ari Atoll and has good diving nearby. Other resorts on this atoll include Veligandu, Diva Maldives, Maayafushi, Constance Halaveli and Sun Island Resort.

A week trip is plenty if you stay at a resort. The resort islands in Maldives are small and there's not much to do relax by the pool, snorkel and dive.


India to give $100 mn loan to each neighbouring nations

India today said it would provide $100 million as loan for each of its neighbouring countries to help them develop infrastructure like roads and power.

After a meeting of the South Asia Free Trade Area Ministerial Council at Male (Maldives), Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said India has evolved a new ‘Buyer Credit Cover’ for the SAARC region, that is, a development loan for them.

“We would be happy to extend such development loan through our Exim bank, interest rates close to LIBOR (London Inter Bank Offer Rate),” he said.

Sharma also said that as energy needs of South Asian Association For Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region is multiplying, there is a need to build greater energy security through trans-national electricity grids.

“The SAARC region needs to concentrate on all possibilities of cross-border electricity trade. This would help in better energy load management as well as energy security in South Asia,” he said.

As regard the Free trade agreement, Sharma urged all the member countries to “bring down all the protectionist trade barriers to achieve regional economies of scale at a greater pace.” He emphasised that the countries in South Asia need to rapidly break down barriers in key sectors like textiles, pharmaceuticals, infrastructure, electronic goods, automobiles and agriculture. He asked SAARC negotiators to complete talks for opening up trade in services through a separate agreement.

“The focus should also be to bring down the tariff levels for those items which still remain within the sensitive list,” he said.

He added that foreign direct investment (FDI) and trade within the SAARC region has been much below the potential and it should be enhanced further.

Source: http://www.indianexpress.com

India's first international passenger ferry service reached Colombo

Resuming the India-Sri Lanka passenger ferry service the first ship MV Scotia Prince arrived at the Colombo Port early today (14 ) morning after a 14 hour journey from the Tuticorin port in Tamil Nadu. The distance between Port of Tuticorn and Colombo is 280 nautical miles.

Ports and Highways Deputy Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardana and other Ministry officials were at the Colombo Port to welcome the ship and its passengers to Sri Lanka.

The vessel which will travel twice weekly on Wednesdays and Fridays and has a capacity of 1,040 passengers and carry 300 tonnes of cargo.

The ferry allows baggage for up to 100 kilograms per person as well as another 100 kilograms at a lower cost compared to air travelers.

Another boat, to start operating soon, is to be run by Sri Lanka's state-owned Ceylon Shipping Corporation.

The old ferry service stopped 30 years ago linked the Indian temple town of Rameshwaram to Mannar, a part of northern Sri Lanka heavily affected by the war.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Winchester woman home from voluntary work in the Maldives

VANESSA Crookes has just returned from the Maldives where she did voluntary work for a month.

Vanessa, of Edwards Close, Kings Worthy, was placed on a tiny Indian Ocean island called Komandoo, measuring just 350m x 250m. In spite of its size Komandoo was home to almost 1,800 people.

She said: “I was placed in the local school, teaching IT and giving workshops on their newly-installed interactive whiteboard.”

Vanessa, who in Winchester works as a volunteer at the Trinity Centre and the Winchester Churches Nightshelter, added: “The Maldivians are a wonderfully gentle nation and I know my work out there was appreciated and beneficial to the teachers and their pupils".

She would like to return: “The people of Komandoo are in my heart now and I wish to continue working with them. I aim to make this a yearly project of mine.”

Her father, John Hickson, a retired naval officer in Winchester, said: “My wife, Dorothy, and I are very proud of Vanessa and all the voluntary work she does in Winchester and overseas. It comes very naturally to her to help those less fortunate than herself. Our daughter is now planning to walk up Kilimanjaro for a local charity and we will support her in this project too.”

Source: http://www.hampshirechronicle.co.uk

Discovering the magic of the Maldives

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I could tell I needed a holiday as soon as I got to the luggage carousel. My fellow passengers were pressing up to the empty conveyor and jostling for a place to stare intently at the space where their bag wasn’t.

This always annoys me but today it made me seethe. I stood well back from the throng - further back than necessary. Wasn’t it obvious that if everyone stood back we could all see which bags had arrived and have room to go and haul it free?

A single bag trundled into view, tip-toes were stood on and necks were craned. The bag disappeared behind a curtain of rubber flaps. The empty carousel came to a juddering halt. The crowd squeezed tighter.

I glared and sank into a mood of sanctimonious contempt.

This, I raged, was the same spirit of blind selfishness that allows people to drive in the middle lane oblivious to the chaos they are causing behind; to dart from the back of a long line of shoppers at a supermarket checkout and take pole position at a newly opened till convincing themselves they are not really queue jumping; it is the essence of the motorist who speeds past a jam of patiently merged traffic at motorway roadworks only to barge in at the very last moment with an airy wave of the hand and a self satisfied smirk on their lips.

Like I said, I needed a holiday.

By the time I emerged from Male Airport into the heat of the Maldives afternoon I was in a very bad temper indeed. And then it started.

The turquoise ocean virtually laps up to the steps of the arrivals concourse. A powerful speedboat was bucking and rearing at its mooring. Moments after stepping on board it roared away, tilting past a sandbank and blasting out across the crystal water towards a horizon dotted with the shimmering silhouettes of distant islands.


Porpoises leapt in shining arcs, the spray from our wake casting out against the bright sun like scattered gems.

Forty minutes later, the engines slowed and the bow dipped as we neared the tiny island of Bodu Hithi. If you are dreaming of a holiday, you are probably dreaming of the Maldives.

Palm crowned desert islands fringed with perfect white beaches set in the blue of the Indian Ocean. But they are selling far more than holidays on Bodu Hithi, they are fulfilling fantasies.

From the moment you step off the boat onto the immaculate wooden jetty you feel you have entered a tropical dream.

This two and a half square kilometres is home to 90 five star luxury villas, some built on the island itself but many perched on stilts above the water and accessed by sweeping timber walkways.

Inside, the villas are magnificent – polished wood floors, palm thatched roofs, opulent furnishings, some arranged around central bath tubs.

The air conditioned interiors open out onto private pools and tranquil decks leading out to either your own stretch of beach or a ladder directly into the sea.

Through the glittering water you glimpse fish of every size shape and colour, shoals drift in curious swirls before being startled into a darting silver haze, a small shark moves past darkly, jack fish hug the jetties seeking titbits like dogs, unicorn fish drift as a turtle gnaws the coral, a heron silently skims.

Days fall into a rhythm of indulgence and excess.

Bodu Hithi feels more like a luxury cruise liner than an island – an oasis of opulence with no other purpose than the pleasure of its guests whose faces quickly become familiar as they drift barefooted and open shirted along the sandy tracks.

Its sixth restaurant will open soon to complement the already impressive selection ranging from high quality buffet, sushi, snacks and fine dining. A range of bars provide sublime sunset vistas, the perfect places to unwind from a day of… unwinding.

Tranquil waters

The Coco Spa sits on its own stilted island offering all manner of treatments and massages. Daily yoga sessions are held on a deck looking out to the surf fringed horizon marking the edge of the atoll separating the tranquil waters from the open sea.

A small gym provides the last refuge for good intentions on this island dedicated to sloth.

The nearby Coco Club is a resort within a resort, an exclusive extension of Bodu Hithi’s luxurious offering. The club’s sumptuous villas are linked by an elliptical walkway over the water and have their own restaurant and bar.

Romance is high on the agenda – small plaques border the walkways marking honeymoons, weddings and anniversaries. Indeed many of the excursions, or ‘experiences’, are focussed on this atmosphere of love – sunset cruises quaffing champagne, a private open air cinema or they will even maroon you on your very own desert island so you can rough it with a well stocked ice box.

Priceless memories, perhaps, but it is worth checking what is included in your package as things do not come cheap in the Maldives.

For the less romantically inclined (or holiday fidgets like me) the sea is the obvious playground. You only need don a mask and snorkel and paddle out a short distance from the shore to revel in the sheer beauty of the reefs but the diving really is excellent.

The diving centre offers courses and several daily trips to take in the kaleidoscopic wonderland of the reefs.

The friendly staff create a relaxed atmosphere – it’s more like diving with your mates than a resort centre. However, the island is ill served by the separate and somewhat limited water sports centre where the service falls short of the high standard set everywhere else.

Stepping out of the five star bubble and back into the airport was a shock but Bodu Hithi had left me with a sense of calm and well-being I hadn’t felt for years.

I was soothed by a week of handholding walks and sand between my toes. My rage at the lunatic world of the luggage carousel felt distant and inexplicable. What was a I thinking? These were people intoxicated by the excitement of arrival, who could blame someone from joining the jostle to see if their bag was on the same continent?

I reflected that middle lane drivers are not doing anyone any harm, they are a reminder that we should all just slow down a little.

We should be glad if a new checkout opens while we queue in a supermarket and a fellow shopper can be served more quickly –their fortune does not make me any less fortunate.

My soothed mind turned to those drivers who barge in to a line of traffic at the last moment – I seethed with a rekindled passion. I hate them and always will. The Maldives can certainly work wonders on a weary soul, but it can’t perform miracles.

Source: http://menmedia.co.uk