Geneva, Switzerland (BBN) – A United Nations human rights expert on Tuesday welcomed the approval of a new constitution in the Maldives.

Leandro Despouy, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers said it demonstrated the country’s progress towards upholding democratic principles and ensuring the independence of the judiciary.

Despouy also said in a statement that the ratification of the constitution by Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom last Thursday was in line with recommendations he made after a visit to the Indian Ocean island chain in February last year.

The new constitution, the culmination of nearly four years of work by the Special Majlis or constitutional assembly, establishes the separation of powers and recognizes the independence of the judiciary.

It contains provisions for the creation of a Supreme Court and the post of Prosecutor General, as well as for the setting up of a judicial service commission, an independent body that will decide on the appointment, dismissal and discipline for judges, according to the statement.