Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Rasheed has presented an amendment to the Clemency Act during yesterday’s parliament session, requiring the death penalty to be administered where the sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court.
While the Maldives theoretically has a death penalty under Islamic Shariah, in practice this has been implemented as a 25 year prison sentence.
In November 2010, the Criminal Court of the Maldives issued a death sentence to a person found guilty of murder. However the last person to actually be judicially executed was Hakim Didi in 1953, who was executed by firing squad after being found guilty of consipiracy to murder using black magic.
In last year’s death penalty verdict, the judge referred to article 88[d] of the Constitution, which stated that cases of murder should be dealt accordingly to Islamic Shariah, and that persons found guilty of murder ”shall be executed” if no inheritor of the victim denies the murderer to be executed, as according to Islamic Shariah.
According to MP Rasheed’s proposed amendment, if the Supreme Court upholds a death penalty ruled by a lower court, or if the Supreme Court itself serves death penalty to a person, the death penalty shall be executed.
Rasheed said he felt he had to present the amendment because of the increase in assaults and murder cases, which had “forced the living to live amid fear and threats.”
He noted that police were sending these cases to court after “thoroughly investigating and researching” them, but the reason the criminals were escaping was because the Prosecutor General was sending “young, untrained lawyers” to the courts. In many cases, he alleged, the PG’s office was not giving its lawyers the police investigation report.
In 2008 Rasheed said 104 cases of assault were sent to Prosecutor General, increasing to 454 in 2009 and 423 cases in 2010.
”I beg this esteemed Majlis to try and make the Prosecutor General accountable,” he said, adding that if his amendment was passed, “violence in this country will be eliminated.”
”In Quran, Sural Al Baqarah verse 178, God says: ‘O ye who believe! the law of equality is prescribed to you in cases of murder: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, the woman for the woman. But if any remission is made by the brother of the slain, then grant any reasonable demand, and compensate him with handsome gratitude, this is a concession and a Mercy from your Lord. After this whoever exceeds the limits shall be in grave penalty’,” he said. ”During broad day light in this very city of Male’ people have been chopped, sliced and crushed using axes, machetes – just like fish are chopped.”
”I am saying brains have leaked out, after being constantly hit by shovels until their skulls are crushed,” he said.
DRP MP Ali Waheed said that he supported “killing those who kill.”
Waheed claimed that “more than 600 youths have been charged in murder cases.”
However, he said, ”slaughtering those who murder is not the solution. We should first try an adequate measurement for this [penalty] instead of implementing death penalties.”
”The corpse found in Lhaviyani Atoll is being buried today after taking DNA samples. But [police] is not sure whether it is the corpse of the Kendhoo person who fell in to the Kaashidhoo Ocean or the corpse of the person missing from Naifaru,” said Ali Waheed. ”This is the situation today.”
President’s Member on the Judicial Services Commisson (JSC), Aishath Velezinee, who wrote her thesis on Sharia, equality and family law, said the country had to first attend to the issue of trust in the judiciary before discussing the death penalty.
“While Islam provides for the dealth penalty in certain cases where preconditions are met, there must be no doubt as to justice has been delivered. There must be absolute faith in the judicary for the death sentence to be delivered – it cannot be reverted,” she said.
“It is an affront to the constitution we adopted for parliament to be discussing this issue without first addressing the multitude of complaints against the JSC. Parliament has shown absolute disregard for the lack of independence of the judiciary.”