The death penalty can be implemented in the Maldives starting today following the publication of procedural regulations in the government gazette, Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer has said.
Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, Naseer said the chances of killing an innocent person after completing all the procedures in the regulation – titled “procedural regulation on investigating and penalising the crime of murder” – was “far-fetched” and “almost impossible”.
The regulation was formulated under the Police Act and the Clemency Act with the objective of specifying the procedures for investigating murders and implementing death penalty, and came into force today.
While Maldives has been maintaining an unofficial moratorium on the death penalty since 1953, several people have been sentenced to death over the years. The common practice had been for the president to commute all death sentences to life imprisonment through powers vested in him by Clemency Act.
With the new regulation, the president will no longer have this authority if a person is sentenced to death for murder by the Supreme Court, Naseer noted.
The regulation only allows implementation of death penalty for intentional homicide or premeditated murder and only when the sentence is delivered by the Supreme Court.
A death penalty committee comprised of the Prosecutor General, Chief Justice (or someone appointed by him) and the Commissioner of Prisons have to send a written confirmation to the president that all procedures of the regulation have been followed.
After receiving this confirmation, the president is required to send an execution order to the Commissioner of Prisons within three days.
Within seven days of receiving this order, the Maldives Correctional Service (MCS) has to carry out the execution using lethal injection.
Naseer said the executions will take place at a building in Maafushi Prison, which is currently under construction.
The regulation requires Ministry of Islamic Affairs to mediate between the victim’s family and the convict.
Through this process, which reflects the Shariah principle of qisas (retaliation), family members who are ‘warith’ (heirs in Shariah law) will be given an opportunity to pardon the convict with or without receiving blood money.
The execution will not be carried out even if a single member of the family chooses to pardon the convict.
The family is given a ten-day period following the mediation to come to a decision.
“A first step”
According to the regulation, implementation of death penalty can be delayed if the convict is underage, till he or she is 18-years-old and if the convict is pregnant, until she gives birth and the child is two years old.
If a medical board appointed by the Commissioner of Prisons finds the convict is of very weak health, the sentence will be delayed till he recovers.
Responding to a question about implementing stricter punishments for other crimes as well, Naseer said the decision to implement death penalty for murder is just a first step and noted that “the Quran was also revealed through different stages.”
“Look at this as a first step. God willing, this government will take all necessary action for keeping peace and creating a safe environment for our citizens.” He said.
Naseer also noted that there maybe some countries and organisations which would be concerned over the decision, but said the Maldives will go ahead with it as a sovereign nation and a 100 percent Islamic country.
“There will be some parties who will be concerned about this. Concerned countries, concerned NGOs. Some counties are not too pleased with it [death penalty, but we will know about the issue of executing people in this country, the overcrowding of prisons in this country, how much the criminal environment is more lively in this country. And we are a hundred percent Islamic country and there are certain values that we all believe in,” Naseer said.