UN call to end flogging in Maldives

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The UN rights chief on Monday urged an end to the "cruel and degrading" practice of flogging in the Maldives.

"The fact that people, especially women, are still flogged in the Maldives is a serious blot on the country's otherwise increasingly positive and progressive image overseas," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said during a visit to the country.

The trip marks the first ever by the UN's top rights official to the Maldives, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean with a population of about 300,000.

"I discussed with the president (Mohamed Nasheed) and his ministers, as well as with the members of the judiciary I met during this visit, how to bring a halt to a practice that has long been recognized in international law as cruel and degrading treatment that often amounts to torture," Pillay told a press conference in Male.

"At the very least, pending more permanent changes in the law, it should be possible for the government and the judiciary to engineer a practical moratorium on flogging."

Pillay also called for equal opportunities for women and an end to the exploitation of migrant workers, particularly those from Bangladesh.

© 2011 AFP

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