Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Rasheed has withdrawn his amendment to the Clemency Act at the last minute, hours before a vote to send the bill to committee. The controversial amendment would have required implementing agencies to execute murderers if the Supreme Court upheld a guilty verdict.
After the preliminary debate over the past three sittings, MP Rasheed was given the opportunity to say his last words on the amendment, which he used as an opportunity to withdraw the bill.
Presenting the bill to the parliament earlier this month, the Hoarafushi MP explained that he was prompted by the recent increase in assaults and murder cases, which had “forced the living to live amid fear and threats.”
In 2008, said Rasheed, 104 cases of assault were sent to the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO), rising to 454 cases in 2009 and 423 cases in 2010.
”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 then 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.”
While he did not specify reasons for his decision to withdraw the amendment, Rasheed claimed that he would resubmit the amendment once belated bills on evidence laws, criminal justice procedures and the penal code were enacted. Criticism of the amendment had centered around the capacity of the Maldivian justice system to rule fairly and impartially in such cases.
Unlike most parliamentary debates, MPs were not divided on the issue of death penalty along party lines. Several MPs of the ruling MDP as well as some opposition MPs argued that the fledgling Maldivian judiciary did not have the capacity or public confidence to dispense justice fairly.
The decision comes after 21 year-old Ahusan Basheer was murdered on the streets of Male’ during a gang attack on Thursday night.
The last person to be executed by Maldivian state was Hakim Didi in 1953 for the crime of practicing black magic.