Cabinet advises president to establish regulations for death penalty

The cabinet has today advised President Abdulla Yameen that there is no legal obstruction to implementing death sentences, asking him to establish regulations determining the appropriate procedure.

The cabinet noted murder to be a serious crime on a national level, calling upon the president to pursue implementation of the death sentence using lethal injection.

Meanwhile, Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Ahmed Mahloof has today announced his decision not to seek a public referendum on capital punishment, giving his apologies to the public.

The decision followed the Fiqh Academy’s statement announcing that a public referendum on the death sentence was unlawful as the punishment was determined in Islamic Sharia.

Mahloof told the press today that he started the work with good intentions, but as religious scholars had said the referendum was unlawful, he no longer wanted to go ahead with it.

Mahloof held a press conference today at the PPM’s offices, telling media that he had never opposed the penalty, but rather had wanted – via the public referendum – to show how much the people were in need of it.

Mahloof said that the cabinet has the authority to enact the death sentence, and called upon it to realise that the implementation of capital punishment has to be started as soon as possible.

On February 4, Mahloof proposed conducting the referendum, suggesting that a poll could be held simultaneously with the parliamentary elections scheduled for March 22.

On the same day Islamic Minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed wrote on his twitter page that a public vote was not allowed on something already determined under Islamic Sharia.

Mahloof’s actions followed Home Minister Umar Naseer’s order to the Maldives Correctional Service last month to begin preparations for implementation of death sentences by lethal injection.

Amnesty International subsequenty called on the government to halt any plans to end the current moratorium on the death penalty, describing such a move as “a retrograde step and a serious setback to human rights in the country.”

President Yameen – on a state visit to Sri Lanka at the time of Naseer’s announcement – meanwhile told the press that the home minister’s order was not discussed in cabinet, and promised “broad discussions” on the issue.

In December 2012, the then-Attorney General Azima Shukoor has drafted a bill outlining how the death sentence should be executed in the Maldives, with lethal injection being identified as the state’s preferred method of capital punishment.

The last person to be judicially executed in the Maldives was Hakim Didi, who was executed by firing squad in 1953 after being found guilty of conspiracy to murder using black magic.