Attorney general appeals 15 year-old girl’s flogging sentence as authorities contemplate legal reforms

Attorney General (AG) Azima Shukoor has appealed a court decision to sentence a 15 year-old girl alleged to be the victim of multiple cases of sexual abuse to 100 lashes on charges of fornication, the government confirmed today.

The Juvenile Court sentenced the girl after she confessed to authorities of having consensual sex with an unknown man during investigations into a separate case of abuse against the minor.  The abuse was alleged to have been carried out by her stepfather.

President Mohamed Waheed’s government has previously criticised the verdict, pledging back  in January to review the use of flogging as a punishment for sexual offences – a practice it has alleged in some cases actually serves to punish victims of rape and abuse.

Sources on Feydhoo in Shaviyani Atoll, where the 15 year-old girl originates from, last week told Minivan News that concerns had been raised by islanders since 2009 that the minor had allegedly been the victim of sexual abuse not just by her stepfather, but by a number of other unidentified men on the island.

The case has brought international attention to the country’s legal system, including the launch of an online petition signed by 1.3 million people that threatens to boycott Maldivian tourism, as well as public criticism from British multi-billionaire Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin group of companies.

In a statement posted on his website yesterday (March 26), Branson spoke of the “enormous damage” he believed the verdict was causing the country. As a result, Branson said he had written to President Waheed, who in turn claimed he had pledged to review the case through a ministerial committee.

“The attorney general has now appealed the case on behalf of the child,” Branson wrote.

Speaking to Minivan News today, President’s Office Spokesperson Masood Imad confirmed that the attorney general had now appealed the court’s ruling, but that he was still waiting on the exact details from the AG’s Office. Massod added that further details would be provided on the appeal later this week.

He was also unable to confirm if a time-line had yet been established for consultations between various state bodies to oversee any proposed reforms to the legal system.

Legal reform

The Maldives Constitution does not allow any law that contradicts the tenets of Islam, with the criminal charge of fornication outlined under Islamic Sharia.

However, Masood has previously noted that the Maldives had a tradition of turning away from practices such as the death sentence and corporal punishment that form part of Sharia law.

According to Masood, punishments such as removing the hand of a suspect in the case of theft had not been used since back in the 1960′s.

He maintained that there was a history of reviewing the country’s relationship with Sharia law in the past and that a similar process could be had with the debate about flogging.

Masood said that all authorities involved in proposed legal reforms would have to tread “a very fine line” in order to tackle long standing “traditions” and beliefs in the country.

Avoiding prosecution

A senior legal expert with experience of working under both the present and former governments has told Minivan News that that while the Maldives Constitution requires that laws in the country do not contradict Islamic Sharia, there were ways of avoiding prosecuting suspects on charges of fornication.

“There are many Islamic legal interpretations that place several conditions to fulfill before a prosecution on fornication be brought forward. Some scholars even go further and argue that hudood offences cannot be practiced in the legal justice systems at the current time,” claimed the legal source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“Their argument is that Islamic Sharia is a way of life and you cannot pick and choose which areas you need to implement. Basically, you cannot implement Islamic criminal justice system in its original form when Islamic commercial system or Islamic governance is not observed.”

Addressing the wider issues of how minors were identified and viewed in the eyes of Maldivian law, the legal source added that the culpability of children was identified in a regulation called ‘Kuda kudhin kuraa kushuge masala thah balai, thahugeegu koh, insaafu koh, adhabu dhinumugai amalu kuraane gothuge gavaidu’

The legal source said that the culpability of minors is specifically dealt with in section five of the regulations.

“According to section five, children above the age of 10 and below the age of 15 are criminally responsible for five offences, which are apostasy, treason, fornication, falsely accusing fornication and consumption of alcohol,” the source said.

“Children above 15 years are criminally responsible for their actions. With children who are below 10, parents are required to make good any damage because of a criminal act. There is no criminal liability for below 10.”

Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali had his phone switched off at time of press.


13 thoughts on “Attorney general appeals 15 year-old girl’s flogging sentence as authorities contemplate legal reforms”

  1. Well done Avaaz! We trust you more than the old CMAG who sit on their chairs and fart only. Now I am hoping that you launch a petition on the transfer of power in Maldives in 2012. Its a mutiny in pure day light and I hope you launch this petition soon.

  2. Well now we know how international pressure - especially financial one - can do wonders. You see when rich guys see threat to their riches, they will give up their BS about religion, sovereignty and imperialism and start working sensibly.

  3. Attorney general appealed the 15 year-old girl’s flogging sentence before Avaaz even started their campaign. LOL

    Avaaz was used by FOM (friends of maldives) as part of the tourism boycott campaign they started since feb 2012.

    We all know this, also the message by Avaaz was so misleading. Anyway, FOM has achieved their objective to some extent as a few hundred tourists (mostly europeans) has actually cancelled their bookings to visit Maldives.

    As soon as the girl case gets solved, next campaign to destroy our fragile tourism industry will be under the titles Govt. supporting and promoting Islamic Extremism and so and so.. terrorists.. bla bla bla.. a friendly source told me.

  4. even entire world is one one side want Nasheed to be the president of Maldives, that is not going to happened unless 51% of the Maldivian elects him to be the next president.

    I doubt that the world is wanting Nasheed to be the president either .

    Nasheed did resigned and he did it knowing that his popularity was decreasing and he would have no chance of standing for his second term unless he does stupid thing like what he had done on Feb. 7th.

    To some extend the guy had won some sympathy vote and many people were fooled by him like before in 2008.

  5. Jabba the hut finally showing signs of a moral conscience. Well done jabba.

  6. Kuribee President Nasheed was elected to the post of presidency by Maldivians.

    He was not ousted by an election but by a coup. So unless and until there is a free and fair election where even Nasheed is also able to participate we will not know if Maldivians wish to see his presidency or not.

  7. Raabo President nasheed can fake up and any other website. But this is something that was going to be discouraged by the government anyway. Good Luck Mr. president.. keep up the good work your are doing for this nation.

  8. @Kuribee

    Take my advice and get professional help for your delusions.

    When someone is as obsessed as you are about someone it is a clear sign of mental illness or fear.

    Nasheed resigned under duress over his stand against a dysfunctional judiciary. It is clear to me from your comments that you have a lot to lose with judicial reform in our country.

    Kuribee, wake up and look around you. Te nation has woken up, the world has woken up to the reality of a country that has its leaders talk about rule of law but where there is no justice.

    Nasheed had his share of errors of judgement and not all his decisions were in the interests of the people.
    There is a process in our constitution for holding an President accountable if his policies and actions were counterproductive to the interests of the people and that is called impeachment. However those opposed to him as you are could not do that because you did not have enough support in parliament for that. And hence the coup.

    Regardless of the CONI report most of us believe there was a coup in the Maldives.

    You can believe what you like, and the administration of Dr Waheed can say what they like but it is clear from the testimonies of the senior officers of the armed forces that what happened on the 7 February 2012 was a coup.

  9. Why don't this billionaire Branson help his own fellow country men in the army by reducing the suicide rate in America rather than meddling in our affairs!??? What a lot of seyku anni nutshells here! I thought he can change the govt within a wink after the so called coup but alas he is no god! what fools!!

    And let the teenagers and adults have sex, beer, drugs free and let the epidemic called aids, Stds and other evils run in this country. The tourism industry will come in handy as they will provide relief for these innocent sex offenders and drug addicts who go on to butcher innocent people!
    and of course it will relieve only the west and the riches who benefit from this!what a world we live in!


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