Maldives should repeal the death penalty – UN Human Rights office

The United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR) on Tuesday voiced deep concern about a new regulation in the Maldives that effectively overturns a 60-year moratorium on the use of capital punishment in the country and allows for children as young as seven to be sentenced to death.

“We urge the Government to retain its moratorium on the use of the death penalty in all circumstances, particularly in cases that involve juvenile offenders and to work towards abolishing the practice altogether,” said Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“We equally encourage the Government to repeal the new regulations and other provisions that provide for the death penalty,” she told reporters in Geneva.

Adopted on 27 April, the new regulation provides for the use of the death penalty for the offence of intentional murder, including when committed by individuals under the age of 18. The age of criminal responsibility in the Maldives is ten, but for hadd offences, children as young as seven can be held responsible. Hadd offences include theft, fornication, adultery, consumption of alcohol, and apostasy.

“According to the new regulation, minors convicted of intentional murder shall be executed once they turn 18. Similar provisions in the recently ratified Penal Code, allowing for the application of the death penalty for crimes committed when below the age of 18, are also deeply regrettable,” Shamdasani said.

Under international law, those who are charged and convicted for offences they commit while they are under 18 years of age should not be sentenced to death or life imprisonment without possibility of release, the spokesperson added.

Government support

Speaking at a press conference last week, Minister of Home Affairs Umar 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”.

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.

Although the death penalty has proven to be a contentious issue, Naseer assured the international community that the Madlives has a firm reason to continue with the ruling.

“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.

Meanwhile, President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has called for the death penalty to be put into practice in the Maldives from as early as July 2013.

The half brother of former autocratic ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, first told media of his “change of heart” while speaking on the program Voice of Maldives on July 22 2013.

Yameen explained that although he had not been not an advocate of the death penalty, he now believed it must be implemented to save Maldivian society from commonplace murders that have become too commonplace.

“Murder has to be punished with murder,” Yameen said.


13 thoughts on “Maldives should repeal the death penalty – UN Human Rights office”

  1. The death penalty (and corporal punishment) is found in the old and new Penal Code. The new regulation didn't introduce it, it just lays out how to kill someone.

    Most of all, it's of grave concern to both Maldivians and the international community about the applicability of the death penalty and corporal punishment to persons who committed crimes while below 18 years of age.

    These concerns have also been expressed to the Maldives by the United Nations Human Rights Committee in 2012, and the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2007, and most recently by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children, following her visit to Maldives in May 2013.

    Article 6(5) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides, “Sentence of death shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age.”

    Article 37(a) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child provides, “No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age.”

    International law is not asking for the justice system to disregard criminal responsibility of persons under-18 for crimes. Children can commit serious crimes, they can be charged, and they can be held accountable (unless of course they are below the age of criminal responsibility).

    The concern is the choice of sentence. The red line in international law is: persons who are charged and convicted for offences they have committed under 18 years of age should not be sentenced to death, corporal punishment, or life imprisonment without possibility of release. There are other alternative types of sentences which can be considered in these circumstances.

    And, suspension or deferment of a sentence until a person reaches 18 years is not sufficient; the sentence of death for children itself violates the country’s international commitments.

    A good solution is if a provision could be inserted into the Penal code as an amendment, which restates article 37(a) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: “No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age.”

    Out of 57 Organisation of Islamic Cooperation countries, there are about 29 which still retain the death penalty.

    Only seven are reported to continue to sentence children to death (Gambia, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen). And the Maldives makes eight.

    Clearly there is no religious consensus about sentencing children to death. The death penalty is not an Islamic requirement, most Muslim countries around the world would agree, and it's not going to improve our crime stats.

    On 13 December 2012, three boys were sentenced to death (one was 17 and two were 16 years of age at the time they committed the murder). In addition, on 1 May 2013, two children were sentenced to death another murder.

    At least five death sentences for children in the Maldives. This is a violation of the country’s international treaty obligations. Not a good thing, for the people or the country's image.

    Dial down the rhetoric and have a transparent, informed discussion about human rights in the country.

  2. What death? We have many investors coming because we had good image in singapore. UN always want to destroy Islam.

  3. Here's a taste of what's to come:

    That's one of many botched executions in the most advanced country in the world.

  4. The USA the most advanced country in the world, what a joke!

    And the emphasis on being underage or overage is misplaced. The death penalty is always wrong, the whole goal of a judiciary is to contain suffering to a minimum, instead of increasing suffering. (of course that doesn't count for corrupt sick countries like the Maldives)

  5. Saudi Arabia is the most advanced country on Earth. What idiot said America?

  6. The UN is fighting a losing battle against most things they stand up for. Why ?

  7. This is a huge dilemma.

    To keep everyone subdued, you have to push the goat herders story.

    The story has capital punishments, which is necessary for the subservient culture.

    To oppose it would be to destroy the story and reality would hit the subdued, like a fast train. You know what would happen then.

    Weighing it, the goat story is better for the controllers. The camels are happy they get young girls, without the need for marriage certificates. This is the only carrot they need.

  8. The biggest two democracy in the world United states and India have the right to exercise the death penalty .

    When it come to smaller countries, why UN opinion is different. ? Does this mean that UN charters are done according to liking of some individual countries .

    UN has no right to dictate the terms for a sovereign sate and we have the right to chose our own religion and we have the right to follow our own rules according to our religion.

  9. The reason why Maldivian so much insist on implementing Sharia based punishments comes from the belief that the Sharia is rained down from heaven, unless the divinity of Sharia is removed, this system will haunt on people with fear that if this was not implemented Allah will punish them.

    Why such obvious reality is so ambiguous is a mystery, anyone with a bit of sense can see that Sharia or Quran is not from anything that has caused the universe to come to existence? The Sharia is the work of so many people during Islamic period following Mohammed’s death complied in 200 to 300 years and everything was referred to Mohammed to authenticate and give divine decree. Such simple and obvious thing is so hard to see; why the creator of universe would be so worried about human behavior when there are more important issues, like their survival. Quran does not provide any information on how to eradicate poverty, disease, and no scientific information in Quran to correct mental or psychotic and genetic disorders which seems are the genuine problems that diversifies human behaviors. And it is so hard to believe that in 21st century, we have so many ignorant and blind people, when even a person who can do a bit multiplication and come up with such logic that these are all medieval superstition and their way of thinking.

  10. Hero said, "we have the right to chose our own religion"

    Do we?

  11. yes but it does not mean that UN can force us to follow other religion either.

  12. Hero, it's not accurate to say that UN human rights mechanisms are selective. Every country is held up to the same international standards that they themselves have signed up for voluntarily. It's not a comparative exercise. Whether you are China, Russia, the US, UK, France, Britain, Israel or tiny Maldives and Sri Lanka. Everyone gets the same treatment. Visit the country pages of the High Commissioner for Human Rights website to see for yourself ( The UN isn't forcing the Maldives to do anything. Just telling them what's expected (by the country's own promises). Maldives can do whatever it wants, but it should be aware of the costs and risks.


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