Monday 22nd Jul 2024
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UTF Agreement

Classification of the UTF Agreement Against Best Interests of the State: Fmr Chief Justice

The continued classification of the agreement titled, "Development, Support, and the Maintenance of the Maldives National Defence Force Harbour Sifavaru at Uthuru Thila Falhu" posed a threat to the best interests of the state, according to the former Chief Justice Dr Ahmad Abdulla Didi.
In a tweet he posted, in response to a news-article published by Dhiyares; the sister-newspaper of The Maldives Journal; regarding the Ministry of Defence's stance that declassifying any part of the Uthuru Thila Falhu (UTF) agreement posed a threat to national security.
Dr Didi wrote that the UTF agreement was an international, bilateral military agreement, and that the Maldivian Constitution did not permit keeping such agreements classified.
In his tweet, he had also stated that keeping the agreement made with India classified posed a danger to the best interests of the State.
At a hearing held at the Information Commissioner's Office, regarding a request for information lodged by Dhiyares, the Ministry of Defence had stated that no part of the UTF agreement could be disclosed, as such disclosure posed a threat to national security.
Dhiyares had requested information regarding the number of "technical" staff to be stationed at UTF; the organisations to which they were affiliated; the terms of the USD$50 million loan granted as part of the agreement; and details on the food and housing costs that may be borne by the Maldivian government as a result of the presence of such technical staff.
The Ministry of Defence had said that the decision to completely classify the UTF agreement had come from the Military Advisory Committee, and that the Ministry's Information Officer had no authority to override their decision.