Fans and friends seek redemption for jailed reggae musician

The ten year sentence handed down to reggae artist Haisham for possession and use of less than one gram of cannabis is coming under increasing criticism for what many describe as its disproportionate severity.

The Criminal Court on Monday sentenced Haisham Mohamed Rashid, M. Loha, to five years for possession of cannabis and five years for use of the same drug. The sentences are to run consecutively.

Haisham was convicted after being found in possession of a bag which contained the cannabis. He also subsequently tested positive for the drug.

Possession or use of illegal drugs are offences under Section 4 of the Drugs Act 17/77 that carry a penalty of 10-15 years of imprisonment or banishment.

“It is ridiculous that someone should receive concurrent sentences for possession and for use. How can someone use a drug without first possessing it?”, Chairperson of local drugs NGO Journey, Ahmed Adam, told Minivan News.

Adam noted that such concurrent sentences have been increasing lately.

The proposed Drugs and Narcoticts Amendment Bill would combine the offences of possession and use, creating a single offence of ‘possession for the purpose of use’. It would remove the ambiguity in the current Act, and prevent the situation where a judge sentences an offender concurrently for both possession and use.

The new Bill also states that if a person is found with less than 25 grams of cannabis in any form, the courts should assume it was in their possession for the purpose of personal use. If the amount found on the person is less than half of the stipulated 25 grams, the sentence should not exceed six months. If it is more than 12.5g, the sentence can be longer than six months, but cannot exceed a year.

Haisham’s sentences, for being found with less than a gram of cannabis and for its use, is nine years and six months longer than what is proposed in the new Amendment Bill.

The Bill has been pending discussion at the Majlis since 2009. The Majlis is currently on its second recess of the year.

Fellow musicians hold Haisham in high esteem, and describe him as a creative force on the Maldivian music scene.

“It is very sad that someone like him should be jailed,” a 29-year-old musician, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Minivan News.

“It is a bad blow for the Maldivian music industry when such things happen. He works hard, he is trying to make a life for himself – then his freedom is taken away”, he added. “He should have been put on probation. At least then he could still work and make music.”

The issue has ignited the Maldivian blogosphere. Many commentators are drawing comparisons with the recent Criminal Court sentencing of former principal of Lale Youth International School, Turkish national Serkan Akar, who received a Rf 200 (US$14) fine for assaulting children.

In 2009 the Criminal Court sentenced a convicted serial paedophile to six years and in 2010 jailed an HIV positive paedophile, who had sex with two underage girls, to three years imprisonment.

Haisham is described by many as a gentle and charitable family man who “would not harm a soul”. Several have called for a musicians’ protest against Haisham’s imprisonment.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Haisham would serve two five year sentences concurrently. The sentences are to be served consecutively.


83 thoughts on “Fans and friends seek redemption for jailed reggae musician”

  1. there is something I see from these comments. You guys are craving for Islamic sharia rulings.

    one guy wants pedophiles to be executed - that's the, I believe, punishment by sharia for pedophiles.

    you want this person to be freed, claiming his sentence is too harsh referring to the 10 years - sharia doesn't sentence him to jail at all, just, at maximum, 80 lashes as per the following link.

    This is amazing in one point of view.

    If I was the mentioned person in this article, I rather get 80 lashes than 10 years or even 1 month in jail.

  2. ...and lashes
    when I think of of it, its not even a punishment.

    Hitting with a narrow stick on the bottom - a punishment?!?!?

  3. @Gadhdhoo_Dhagndey there is nothing wrong about cannabis or smoking it. it's a plant. humans eat, smoke, live and drink from plants.

  4. Thank you Shafeea. I understood ur intention, and I also sometimes felt why all these murderers and drug dealers are being set free. I am with you. Once again thans a lot.

  5. @miki
    You said music is haram in islam? double haram?? hehehe
    Who said it? These fundamentalists who believes in jihad?
    Leave us Maldivians who love music and peace and Go and live in the middle east!

  6. "drug addicts are so much prone to all other mentioned crimes; raping, robbing…etc."

    So did you receive a SMS from god saying Haisham will commit these crimes in the future?. Is that why he got a huge sentence? Because he "will" commit these crimes in the future?.

  7. Maldives needs to follow like Singapore, give capital punishments for those who use drugs. If we give one or two capital punishments to those who get convicted, these things will be easily eradicated from the society.

  8. Why don't we all just take a minute, get a little high and sing the 'redemption song' in the name of Haisham, just like the way we sing for the departed and tomorrow we can forget about today and the past and get a little high and sing again. You know, have a good time. Isn't that the spirit of music?

  9. As I had said many times,
    this inequality before the law is one of the many symptom of a deeply rooted seed of intense grief and tragedy which is the real, underlying cause of the violent narcisism which characterises these tragic and cruel "legal affairs."

    Get rid of all these judges, replace them but eventually the same problems of injustice will reoccur if the root cause is not dealt with.

    Until the seed of grief is uprooted there will never be an unselfish, nation serving rather than self serving bunch of judges (there are a few but not enough...)

    Inequality before the law is one of many of the symptoms of this self reinforcing cycle of tragic despair and its eventual consequence…ultimately destructive narcissism (destructive for both self and others…)

    Too much social pain, rejection and hurt leads to an eventual inability of one to genuinely care for another, to uphold genuine justice.

    This stems from a selfishness rooted in pain. It stems from an inability to care. To care for another is to make yourself vulnerable to being hurt by them. So to protect oneself from being hurt, one becomes self serving, hedonistic, one seeks ones own pleasure in a desparate bid to be happy without having any real care for others. Yet it becomes a vengeful pursuit of pleasure, as it becomes so all consuming that all others are exploited and used towards the end of ones own pleasure. People are treated as means to an end rather than as ends in themselves. This is degrading, dehumanising. Justice, if understood correctly, is rooted deeply in the essential dignity and care for humanity. When one does not care, they use the courts to serve their own selfish ends by making decisions which benefits themselves rather than serving true justice. This selfishness of course, is a type of cowardice.

    The only way to uproot this seed of pain, to create a society which reverences the dignity of humanity is for one to be capable of caring, even if it hurts one to be caring. The pain of caring has to be embraced as a special spirital virtue where the ultimate reward is ultimately true love itself, love is its own reward, and the greater it suffers, the more beautiful it will be experienced once its pain has come to an eventual end. If one cannot truly care, one cannot be morally courageous, one is a coward. True love has the power to inspire the courage needed for healing. Until one puts justice, truth and humanity above self as a special act of virtuoussness, justice, truth and humanity will never prevail. study history, and you will see that progress in justice, science and morality is the consequence of sacrifice and courage. The measure of humanity is its capacity for suffering and self sacrifice for a higher cause than ones own self. To create care … true self sacrificial love is the only power capable of inspiring the capacity for true justice.

  10. useless!
    I guess everybody is just wasting time in office, like me, every morning.

    ...speaking for the country while there is work paid to do!

    Sure none of you guys give a damn on this guy.

  11. Comment fields serve purpose to submit short comments about a subject. Blogs are for writing short essays on that subject.

  12. @Rain-w, sorry, got over excited...wanted to be OUT There! hehehe

    1 article per page from now on... promise...

  13. Ben Plewright has raised important questions; but look at the supporters of injustice quickly throwing up their bullshit fields and making up stupid rules about commenting.

    People like them will ensure that Maldives remains a backwood, third world country, where the rich are above the law, and those who cannot pay the judges are doomed to a life of despair.

  14. We all should organize a huge concert to revamp the judiciary of this country.
    To get rid of the judges like the chief judge of the criminal court.

  15. Dhon kamana

    We maldivians are muslims. so Leave us and u go away from here. We are true muslims but u are just showing that u r a muslim cause otherwise u cannot stay here in Maldives.

  16. it's a shame seeing good citizens of the community being persecuted. when corrupts,pedophiles,murderers,robbers,stabbers and every other crime that we could think of, is led free by the authorities.
    shame on you.

  17. Ahmed Aliased, thanks heaps... your blog is awesome...

    I am just really happy to see that so many Maldivians are expressing concern over the inequality before the law... Eventually, you guys will win your struggle...

  18. @ Miki, let us hope that with the leadership of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs the Maldives will be purified of the racist misogynist fascists living in the Maldives corrupting the social fabric of our nation in the name of Islam.

  19. Just like most of you agree, i also wonder why haisham was given a lengthy jain sentence, when murderers, big drug suppliers and dealers, pedophiles and rapists gets a lesser punishment! RIDICULOUS!!!

  20. where is common sense? I blame crappy narcotics and drugs amendment bill. No one has right to take 10 years of his life just be cause possession of cannabis for personal use. Why cant there be more years to career gangsters to make streets safe? how many murderers are running free?

  21. Ben Plewright - yes, and at what price?.

    Miki - you so-called muslims think you're so great; but you have forgotten your roots. Humility, respect and faith. Once, you(muslims) were persecuted for your beliefs. And yet you prevailed against them.

    Now, look at you. You have become the oppressor - and history has signed your death warrant, the oppressor, no matter how strong or god-backed they say they are - in the end, their fate is to be crushed under the feet of Mankind.

    Islam is no exception.

    Oppress us. Persecute us for our beliefs - and you are signing the death warrant on your own cult.

  22. >Haisham’s sentences, for being found with less than a gram of cannabis and for its use, is nine years and six months longer than what is proposed in the new Amendment Bill.

    Please send an email to the President of the Maldives and ask for a review of Haisham's sentence. Details on this link.Thank you.

    82 years ago today the UK pushed cannabis prohibition on the UK, on the Commonwealth and most of the world.


  23. You do the crime, you do the time. Simple as that. Its stupid to compare his crime and the verdict given to him to other decided cases. We all know the justice system is a mess, but that doesnt mean what Haisham did was right. This might be one of those "example" cases, to discourage people. I support this.

  24. i would like to tell all the people who think that music is haraam that you are going way over the top and becoming extremists. most of all people who cant even speak proper english dont even bother typing a comment. plus everyone knows tha the maldivian government has been corrupted far beyond any repair. i admit that taking drugs is highly degrading, but i tell you this, each and every single person in the parliament and the cabinet have done atleast one crime against the law but walked free for god knows what reason. so i say that this musician should not walk free but be sentenced at leas 3 years in prison.

  25. and please pardon my spelling error for the last sentence of the comment above.

  26. @Chemical Ali Tell us who the other cases are and we'll work for their review. If the Maldives government want to explain the danger of using cannabis (like giving a 10 year sentence for such a small amount of cannabis) then they should use their government education resources to do it - and not victimise Haisham Rasheed - you say you support this example - this "example" as you call it is VICTIMISATION - an unjust sentence for a minor law infraction.

    The people who are leading this Campaign for Haisham Rasheed (not me) have initiated a tourist boycott of the Maldives. The Maldives are getting bad press because of this case.

    Maldives says on President's web page that they are promoting democracy for the people of the Maldives. But where is the democracy in this case? This sentence reeks of nothing more than OPPRESSION.

    If you are a Maldives citizen, then please help to bring about these changes in the Maldives. Everybody wants to see the Maldives participating in a good and democratic way. The current outrage is not to show disrespect to the government or people of the Maldives - it is a worldwide shock and disgust against this unjust 10 year sentence given to Haisham Rasheed.

    If there are other people who have been given harsh sentences for cannabis in the Maldives, then I would like to know about them - and we will campaign for those poor souls too.

  27. This is a very common thing in Maldives. A lot of people have been sentenced to jail for possessing and using marijuana. The sentence for using alcohol is between 6 months and 12 months most of the time! but for marijuana it starts from 5 years and it goes on! I guess its time for us to stand up and fight for it. We got to throw off all these old zealots from the government, judiciary and the parliament. youth of the maldives got to campaign and help people who support the ideas of youth, win the elections! This is our day. we cant let the old people do what ever they want to us! We all got to get together and start fighting for our rights!

  28. This is a very common thing in Maldives. A lot of people have been sentenced to jail for possessing and using marijuana. The sentence for using alcohol is between 6 months and 12 months most of the time! but for marijuana it starts from 5 years and it goes on! I guess its time for us to stand up and fight for it. We got to throw off all these old zealots from the government, judiciary and the parliament. youth of the maldives got to campaign and help people who support the ideas of youth, win the elections! This is our day. we cant let the old people do what ever they want to us! We all got to get together and start fighting for it!

  29. Hello maldives! you are way behind! learn something from the countries ahead of you! Jail is not the place for drug addicts! a REHAB is!

  30. No need to diss the whole of Maldives - its prohibition to blame! Great plant when understood and respected- but a stupid law. The seductive myth that tough penalties actually protect those who may need help is a nonsense. Who really benefits from keeping it illegal and unregulated...?
    Apart from individual letters to the President what plans do you have to coordinate a Campaign to expedite the release of Haisham? Protests at Maldive Embassies and Tourist Offices around the world could be effective. I know the poor Swiss guy gaoled for life in 1997 for 3 seeds was released after international pressure.
    Education not prohibition-
    Stand up for your rights!


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