Country Listing

Maldives Table of Contents


Human Rights

Maldives has a fairly good human rights record. However, individual freedoms are restricted in areas such as speech and press, religion, the right of citizens to change their government, and women's and workers' rights. Other problems include arbitrary arrest, incommunicado detention, and lack of an independent judiciary. Despite Gayoom's commitment to democratization, Western observers believe that these problems will mar the country's human rights record for the foreseeable future.

The Indian Ocean island countries face a challenging future. Despite the end of the Cold War, the region will continue to maintain a degree of strategic importance for nations such as France, South Africa, and India. However, it is unlikely that one of these nations will intervene militarily in any of region's islands. With the possible exception of Comoros, which has a history of chronic instability, it also is unlikely that any of the islands will experience significantly internal security problems inthe foreseeable future. As a result of dwindling foreign military assistance, the security forces on each of the islands undoubtedly will undergo some sort of reorganization or downsizing in the years ahead. Consequently, by the turn of the century, the military capabilities of each of the Indian Ocean islands will be far less than they are today.

*  *  *

Historically, various foreign and indigenous armed forces have played a significant role in Indian Ocean life. However, available military literature focuses mainly on Madagascar. Useful historical works for this country include The Rising of the Red Shawls: A Revolt in Madagascar, 1895-1899 by Stephen D.K. Ellis and two works of Samuel Pasfield Oliver: Examples of Military Operations in Madagascar by Foreign Powers and Native Campaigns, 1642-1881 and French Operations in Madagascar, 1883-1885. Two of the more important studies about Madagascar's role in World War II are Into Madagascar and The King's African Rifles in Madagascar, both by Kenneth Cecil Gander Dower.

Several essential works for the postindependence period include Mike Hoare's The Seychelles Affair, Anthony Mockler's The New Mercenaries: The History of the Hired Soldier from the Congo to the Seychelles, and Philip M. Allen's Security and Nationalism in the Indian Ocean: Lessons from the Latin Quarter Islands.

For material about the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean, see The Politics of Intrusion: The Super Powers and the Indian Ocean by Kim C. Beazley and Ian Clark. Other items of interest include Monoranjan Bezboruah's U.S. Strategy in the Indian Ocean: The International Response, V.K. Bhasin's Super Power Rivalry in the Indian Ocean, and The Indian Ocean: Its Political, Economic, and Military Importance edited by Alvin J. Cottrell and R.M. Burrell.

Material about the military aspects of the Indian Ocean and its islands exists in a variety of periodical sources, including the Indian Ocean Newsletter, African Defence Journal, Africa Research Bulletin, and Africa Confidential. Other useful publications are New African, Africa Events, Africa News, Focus on Africa, and The Journal of Modern African Studies. Two International Institute for Strategic Studies annuals, The Military Balance and Strategic Survey, are essential for understanding the evolution of Indian Ocean security forces. The same is true of three annuals: Africa Contemporary Record, Africa South of the Sahara, and World Armaments and Disarmament. The last is published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography).

Data as of August 1994