Maldives UN team calls for abolition of death penalty, flogging

The UN country team in the Maldives has issued a statement calling for the abolition of both corporal punishment and the death penalty in the Maldives.

While the Maldives still issues death sentences, these have traditionally been commuted to life sentences by presidential decree since the execution of Hakim Didi in 1954, for the crime of practicing black magic.

Recent calls for presidential clemency to be blocked led former attorney general Azima Shukoor to draft a bill favouring the implementation of the penalty via lethal injection. It was met with opposition by several religious groups such as the NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf, which called for the draft to be amended in favour of beheadings or firing squads.

More recently, the state has called for a High Court verdict on whether the practice of presidential clemency can be annulled.

The Maldives continues to issue and implement flogging sentences for certain crimes, notably extra-marital sex. The vast majority of those sentenced are women.

An earlier call by UN High Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay in 2011 calling for a moratorium on flogging as a punishment for extramarital sex led to protesters gathering outside the UN building, carrying placards with angry slogans including “Islam is not a toy”, “Ban UN” and “Flog Pillay”.

Earlier this year, widespread global publicity of such a sentence handed to a 15 year-old rape victim led to two million people signing an Avaaz petition calling for an end to the practice of flogging in the Maldives.

In its statement, the UN team in the Maldives called for the Maldives to ensure its legislation and practices fulfilled the international human rights obligations to which it was signatory.

“The Maldives made a commitment following its Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2010 to maintain a moratorium on the death penalty, in line with its vote in favour of UN General Assembly Resolution 65/206,” the UN statement read.

“In view of the country’s more than 50-year moratorium, the United Nations calls upon the Maldives to take the opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to its international human rights obligations, and abolish the death penalty,” it added.

The UN noted that flogging as a punishment was prohibited under the Maldives’ international commitment “to prohibit torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” – to which all three the Maldives has signed.

“The United Nations Country Team notes with particular concern the possibility in the Maldives of sentences of death, as well as 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,” the statement read.

“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’,” it noted, “while 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.’”

The UN noted that more than 150 countries have no either abolished the death penalty or ceased to practice it, “a global trend also seen among countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.”

“The United Nations Country Team stands ready to support the Maldives to ensure its legislation and practices fulfil its international human rights obligations,” it added.

Earlier in May the Juvenile Court issued the death sentence to two 18 year-olds found guilty of the February 18, 2012 murder of Abdul Muheeth of Galolhu Veyru House.

Three minors were charged in the case, and one was acquitted by the court. The two sentenced to death are both 18 years-old, although both were underage and minors at the time of the murder.

The sentencing led Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director Polly Truscott to warn that the Maldives was “entering new and dangerous territory – imposing death sentences for crimes allegedly committed by children is alarming.”

The death penalty is widely supported in the Maldives as either adherence to stricter interpretations of Islamic Sharia, or as a perceived method of reducing violent crime.

Public opposition to the death penalty tends to rest more on a widespread lack of trust in the capabilities of the judiciary to implement such punishments fairly, with 50 percent of the country’s 207 judges reported to have less than grade seven education, rather than objections on human rights grounds.

Current revision to the new penal code by the parliamentary committee responsible have been challenged on religious grounds by figures such as Sheikh Ilyas of the Adhaalath Party – presently in coalition with President Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Ithihaad Party (GIP).

The chair of the religious conservative AP’s scholars’ council and member of the Fiqh Academy was summoned to the committee last week after claiming that the draft legislation (in Dhivehi) did not include Shariah penalties for fornication, apostasy and violent robbery.

The initial draft of the penal code was prepared by legal expert Professor Paul H Robinson and the University of Pennsylvania Law School of the United States, upon the request of the Attorney General in January 2006. The project was supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

“If it is passed, there is no doubt that there will be no religion in this Muslim society that claims to be 100 percent Muslim. There will be no Islamic punishments,” Sheikh Ilyas stated in a sermon delivered at the Furqan mosque in Male’ on March 23.


12 thoughts on “Maldives UN team calls for abolition of death penalty, flogging”

  1. Dhivehistan accedes to these international treaties and calls for human rights on the world stage, so that they aren't marginalised by the kuffar UN nations, but at the same time has to satisfy the blood-lust of mullahs by upholding barbarism at home. Such duplicity is typical of mullarized countries which have their own medieval notion of "human" rights. With mullahs controlling politics and brainwashing Dhivehistanis at break-neck speed, we'll soon have theatres selling tickets for live homosexual hangings and adultery stonings. I'm expecting international sanctions might be the kick in the collective posterior of the moderate Dhivehistanis. Let's see if they love Holy Allah or kaafir tourism dollars infidel aid more.

  2. UN first need to call US to abolish the death penalty before asking from Maldives.

  3. UN also should call on Japan, China and India to Abolish death penalty. Why the Dumb Maldivians who doesn't even apply this in real life!

    You are right, Human being.Next they will call on the legalization of same sex when gay men was the first people to bring in HIV.

    Then they will call on the legalizing of drugs when the problem cannot be suppressed. Good! good, suits very well for the drug lords?! the murder criminals! and all of them will be freely supported by the govt when the good public will suffer every day searching for jobs, food!

  4. Why can't we be more progressive than US, China, India? Why do we need to ask them first? That's being so childish.

    "Moooom! Not me first!, make bro do it first"

    Do we need to constantly be more barbaric them to maintain our inferiority complex or something?

  5. The correct date of the last execution in the Maldives is not 1956, but 1954.

    That said, it must be noted that the Convention Against Torture (which prohibits corporal punishment) was ratified when Mr Gayoom was President and Dr Hassan Saeed was Attorney General; and that it was also domesticated by the current parliament-- which cannot win a majority by a single party vote. The current President is a former UNICEF official and one who continues to draw a pension from the UN for his work at UNICEF. The current Vice President is a former Commissioner of the Maldives Human Rights Commission. President Nasheed sent me and the then Attorney General Dr Ali Sawad to Geneva in November 2010, where we pledged to uphold the moratorium on death penalty during the Universal Periodic Review of Maldives. My pledge was subsequently confirmed by Minister Naseem in March 2011, when he was Minister, when the Human Rights Council adopted the pledges made by Maldives. Moreover, Maldives signed and ratified UN Convention on the Rights of Child in 1990 (which bans juvenile execution). This was done with the concurrence of Supreme Council on Islamic Affairs, whose boss now holds sway over the Fiqh Academy. It is therefore amazing how all these people are now so fanatical about imposing the death penalty! Surely, Islam has not changed between 1990 and 2013! Apart from President Nasheed, none of the others involved in upholding the principle, today seems to think that these obligations mean anything!

  6. @Shimy You might want to get your facts right before you right a comment like " when gay men was the first people to bring in HIV". Read this article be enlightened.

  7. The implimentation of Death penalty should be via Firing squad. We cannot inspire Future murderes by conventing.

  8. actually there's no death penalty in maldives.if the criminal is sentenced to death, they will just put them in jail after couple of months there you go the criminal is walking in the street again.

  9. Dr Shaheed, may i ask you a question? When you ask people to think about Obligations from some worldly agreement, what do you think about your obligations as a Muslim? There are other countries that had signed the agreement with conditions as well. There are also no need to talk of obligations as people often talk of things they like and ignore what they dont like whehter they be obligations or whatever.


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