President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has declared that the Progressive Party of Maldives-led (PPM) coalition government will implement the death penalty despite international pressure.
Speaking at a campaign event for PPM MP Ahmed Mahloof in Male’ last night, President Yameen said his administration’s decision to enforce the death penalty was a “historic day” in the Maldives’ democracy.
“Enforcing the death penalty is not something I will do because I want to. This is a very difficult thing. This is not an easy thing to do for any president or [public] servant. But our society cannot bear the loss of a life as well as the opportunity for further loss of life as a result of not respecting [the value of a human life],” he said.
“For that reason, no matter how much I don’t want to do it or how difficult it is, I have to do this on behalf of the people as they have placed that trust in me.”
President Yameen revealed that the government had formulated regulations implementing capital punishment on Thursday, based on the advice of the cabinet.
The government decided to enforce the regulations to ensure the safety and security of the community, he said, adding that the public wished to see action taken to stop the “slaughter of innocent citizens.”
Moreover, a majority of the Maldivian people were in favour of introducing the death penalty despite opposition from international partners, Yameen contended.
He stressed that a convict would only be put to death in accordance with Islamic Shariah following due process through the courts.
At the final stage, he explained, the Supreme Court would decide whether capital punishment was warranted as qisas (retaliation).
Under the new regulations specifying procedures for enforcing the death penalty, President Yameen said that both the victim’s and the convict’s family would be consulted after the Supreme Court decision to see whether the former demanded the death penalty and not blood money as retaliation.
Following an order issued by Home Minister Umar Naseer in January to the Maldives Correctional Services for implementation of the death penalty through lethal injection, Amnesty International called upon the government to halt any plans to end the current moratorium on the death penalty.
The international human rights organisation described the possible reintroduction of capital punishment as a “retrograde step and a serious setback for human rights in the country”.
Meanwhile, President Yameen – on a state visit to Sri Lanka at the time of Naseer’s announcement – subsequently promised “broad discussions” on the issue in his cabinet.
Death sentences have traditionally been commuted to life sentences by presidential decree since the execution of Hakim Didi in 1954 for the crime of practising black magic.
The Maldives currently has 20 prisoners sentenced to death by the Criminal Court.