Parliament considers stricter traffic rules

Parliament has accepted for consideration two bills seeking to double fines for traffic violations and make it mandatory to wear helmets.

Amendments to the land vehicles law submitted by MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik to raise fines was accepted with 46 votes in favour at yesterday’s sitting and sent to the economic affairs committee for review.

The independent MP proposed imposing a fine of MVR1,000 for speeding in addition to impounding the vehicle for 30 days, and suspending the driver’s license for 90 days.

The bill also proposed a MVR1,500 fine for a second speeding offence, MVR2,000 for a third offence, and MVR1,000 for illegal parking.

Moosa also proposed raising fines for failing to pay annual fees and driving a motorcycle with expired registration.

The bill also states that it will be illegal for children under 10 to ride bicycles on the road.

Progressive Party of Maldives MP Riyaz Rasheed meanwhile proposed making it mandatory to wear helmets while riding motorcycles. Riyaz’s amendments were accepted with 47 votes in favour and also sent to the economic affairs committee for review.

The legislation was submitted in the wake of several fatal accidents in Addu City.


PPM signals support for reappointing Supreme Court bench

The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) signalled the majority party’s support today for reducing the number of Supreme Court Justices from seven to five as proposed by opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ibrahim Shareef.

During preliminary debate on amendments (Dhivehi) submitted by Shareef to the Judicature Act, Majority Leader Ahmed Nihan said he believed all ruling party MPs would support the proposal, but a decision would be made following discussions at a parliamentary group meeting.

“The work of reforming the judiciary is not something that the PPM has not participated in or stayed away from,” said the PPM parliamentary group leader.

All pro-government MPs subsequently voted in favour of the bill, which was accepted for consideration with 43 votes in favour and 22 against.

Last week, the MDP’s national executive council decided not to support Shareef’s bill with former President Mohamed Nasheed warning that it would allow President Abdulla Yameen to appoint a bench biased in favour of PPM.

The opposition leader told the press that changing the number of judges on the Supreme Court bench would not amount to judicial reform.

Presenting the amendment bill at today’s sitting, Shareef said he believed the number of judges on the apex court was too high for a country the size of the Maldives.

The Supreme Court should maintain “legal consistency” or “uniformity” in its rulings, the MP for Addu Maradhoo said.

Confidence in the judiciary from both the Maldivian public as well as local businesses and foreign investors was essential to ensure development, he added.

Shareef also proposed establishing branches of the High Court in the north and south of the country.

MDP divisions

MDP MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik – who has announced his intention to contest in the MDP’s 2018 presidential primary – appealed for pro-government MPs to cooperate with the party’s efforts to reform the judiciary.

The PPM together with coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance has a majority of 48 seats in the 85-member house.

The current Supreme Court bench was appointed as a “shameful” political “bargain” between the MDP and then-opposition parties in 2010, Moosa said, noting that the MDP did not have a majority in the 16th People’s Majlis.

Moosa criticised Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain for swearing in former President Dr Mohamed Waheed following a “coup d’etat” on February 7, 2012 and for remaining silent while MDP MPs were unfairly stripped of their parliament seats.

Nihan meanwhile praised both Shareef and Moosa and suggested that the number of judges on the apex court was worth reconsidering.

Shareef was a “rare” politician, Nihan said, and defended Moosa for forming a ‘people’s court’ during street protests, which was part of the former MDP chairperson’s advocacy for judicial reform.

“If MDP members think about it, if there is one member in MDP’s front rank who wishes well for the nation, I don’t doubt at all that it is the honourable Hulhuhenveiru MP Moosa Manik,” Nihan said.

Nihan suggested that MDP MPs voting against the amendments would be against the party’s principles.

However, Minority Leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said he respected Shareef and Moosa, but the MDP’s national executive council has decided not to support the bill.

“So that is the MDP’s stand about this amendment,” he said.

Moosa had reportedly walked out of the national council meeting and pledged to stand behind Shareef.


Jumhooree Party Leader Gasim Ibrahim meanwhile contended that the proposed revisions were unconstitutional as Supreme Court Justices were appointed for life.

The Constitution specifies the process for removing judges, Gasim continued, and it could not be done by amending laws.

Gasim also criticised Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed for tabling the bill in the agenda, claiming that a controversial amendment submitted by the PPM requiring the reappointment of the auditor general was also tabled in spite of parliament’s counsel general advising that it could not be put to a vote.

While the MDP had also insisted that the amendments were unconstitutional, MPs Shareef and Moosa were among several MDP MPs who voted in favour of appointing former PPM parliamentary candidate Hassan Ziyath as the new auditor general.

Meanwhile, in June this year, the Judicial Service Commission cleared Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed of misconduct after sex tapes of the judge with three prostitutes in a hotel room in Sri Lanka emerged last year.

The room and date stamp in the sex tapes appeared to be the same as that in previously leaked footage of Hameed meeting local businessman Mohamed Saeed, the director of ‘Golden Lane’.

In that video, Hameed declared that he was one of then-PPM presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen’s “back-ups”, and that his stand was “to do things the way Yameen wants”.

Images and symbols depicting scenes from the sex-tape formed a prominent part of the MDP’s protests against the apex court’s repeated interference in last year’s presidential election.

In a controversial 4-3 ruling – with Justice Hameed in the majority – the Supreme Court annulled the results of the first round of the polls conducted on September 7 despite unanimous positive assessment of the polling by more than a thousand domestic and international election observers.

Related to this story

MDP rejects MP Shareef’s proposal to reduce Supreme Court bench

Constitutional disaster averted as Parliament approves Supreme Court

A justice system in crisis: UN Special Rapporteur’s report


MPs warned of consequences of failure to pass anti-money laundering legislation

A high-level delegation from the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) informed MPs on the National Security Committee yesterday of “negative consequences” for the Maldives if parliament fails to enact anti-money laundering legislation next month.

In an unofficial meeting with the committee’s chair, MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, and MPs Abdul Azeez Jamal Abubakur and Mohamed Thoriq, APG Co-chair Andrew Colvin warned that the organisation along with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) “would be left with little option but to take certain measures that would be negative for the Maldives” should the legislation not be passed.

APG Executive Secretary Dr Gordon Hook noted that implementing laws on anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) was “an obligation that the Maldives undertook voluntarily when you joined the APG in 2008” as a condition of membership.

“There are 41 countries in the APG. They include every country in the Asia/Pacific region with the exception of North Korea and three tiny Pacific states. Among those 41 countries of which Maldives is a member, you are the only country without a comprehensive AML/CFT framework,” he observed.

The anti-money laundering bill was submitted to parliament in late 2013 and sent to the National Security Committee for further review.

The absence of legislation “makes Maldives very vulnerable to money laundering and terrorist financing,” Dr Hook said.

He added that the vulnerabilities were identified by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a report prepared in 2011.

Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) Assistant Governor Neeza Imad meanwhile told MPs that the Maldives received a very low rating in an assessment by the APG in 2011, after which the central bank began drafting legislation on AML/CFT.

Technical assistance was provided by the APG and the IMF, she noted.

Countries that are listed by the APG for non-compliance with its standards on AML/CFT face “hindrances” in securing foreign direct investment, opening accounts overseas, and conducting international financial transactions, Neeza said.


Dr Hook explained that the APG in its annual meeting last year made a unanimous decision to send a high-level delegation to the Maldives “to express concern prior to the next annual meeting”.

Elaborating on the consequences, Dr Hook noted that 14 member states were subject to review last year by the FATF through the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG).

“They have what’s called a blacklist and counter measures list. There’s a lot of countries on that list at the moment and there are varying categories on that list. And it doesn’t matter where you are on the list. There are negative consequences to it,” he said.

The consequences include having overseas credit card transactions blocked for citizens of listed countries and the blocking of incoming wire transfers from European banks, Dr Hook said.

“It would be our concern – and the co-chair has expressed that – that the Maldives should not be the subject of those negative consequences at the very time that the Maldives is working very hard to eliminate public debt and to attract foreign investment,” he continued.

The parliament upon returning from recess has “a small window of opportunity” to pass the bill in March, he suggested.

If the legislation is not enacted before the next meeting of the FATF in June, Dr Hook cautioned that the Maldives’ case would be taken under consideration.

“I can indicate that the Maldives is already on a list of jurisdictions that are under consideration by FATF,” he said.

He added that the Maldives “dodged a bullet” last year because the FATF “looked at PNG [Papa New Guinea] as an alternative.”

A review by the FATF “could take upwards to three years,” Dr Hook noted, “during which you in the Maldives would expend a huge amount of resources to try to deal with the issues.”

“You can dodge that bullet if you enact the legislation,” he advised.

Political will

Following statements by the delegation, MP Moosa Manik said that the committee could complete reviewing the legislation in “24 hours” and send it to the floor for a vote in the first week of March.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party MP urged the delegation to seek a commitment from the executive as the ruling coalition had “a clear majority” in the People’s Majlis.

In response, the delegation said it has met with Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad and was planning to meet Attorney General Mohamed Anil as well as officials from the Maldives Police Service and the Prosecutor General’s Office.

The MDP chairperson also alleged that some pro-government MPs could be involved in money laundering and might oppose enactment of AML/CFT laws.

MP Abdul Azeez – a member of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives – however told the delegation that there was “no political will to delay this bill.”

“We are willing to do this and I think it is our obligation to pass this bill for the sake of the nation. There is no will to delay this purposely,” he said.

In his concluding remarks, Colvin said the delegation was encouraged by the assurances from committee members.

“We will make sure that in our report we reflect that. We will need to get back to the [APG] membership and advise them on the progress and we will look on with much interest in March and hope that the bill can make it through the parliament,” he said.


Criminal Procedure Code Bill to include strong measures against hard-line offenders

The Chair of Parliament’s National Security Committee, MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik has said that the Criminal Procedure Code bill currently being drafted in parliament will include strong measures to protect witnesses and ensure successful prosecutions.

The Hulhu-Henveiru constituency MP told local media that the parliament’s National Security Committee – charged with reviewing the bill – had decided to restrict the rights of those accused of major crimes as well as introducing strict procedures during criminal investigations.

Among the measures to be made part of the legislation include setting a limit for the maximum detention period of such suspect, reducing the right to remain silent and the right to obtain legal counsel while in custody.

Furthermore, Moosa said that the bill, once ratified, would make it mandatory for a suspect to consent to urine tests and DNA tests, as well as submitting fingerprint and handwriting samples.

Moosa said that the National Security Committee members have also agreed that 135 days ought to be the maximum period a person can be detained by police for criminal investigations.

Under the new provisions included in the bill, explained Moosa, police would be expected to conclude investigations and file for prosecution within a 60 day period, while the Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office must press charges within a 15-day period.

“The bill also allows suspects of major criminal offences to be placed under custody during police investigation and up until the trial is over,” Moosa told local media.

Mandatory tests and restrictions on right to remain silent

The Criminal Procedure Code bill was originally proposed during the 16th parliament session under former ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, before being re-submitted by President Mohamed Nasheed’s administration during the next session.

The bill has been pending in parliament for the past five years, with the legislature coming under heavy fire from NGO’s and the public over the delay, particularly during the record high number of murder cases in the past three years that included the murder of former MP Dr Afrasheem Ali.

The Criminal Procedure Code bill identifies terrorism, murder and manslaughter, causing grievous bodily harm, offenses against minors, drug trafficking, money laundering and other similar acts as major criminal offences.

Those accused of less serious offences may be kept in detention for a period of 70 days – which includes 30 days for criminal investigations, 10 days for prosecution, and an additional 30 days to conclude the trial.

Moosa argued that, although the right to remain silent is enshrined in the constitution, no criminal suspect should have the liberty to refuse to undergo urine and DNA testing, which he argued would prove to be central for prosecutions.

“We believe the right to remain silent and consenting to taking urine and body samples are two different things.  This is the practice in all developed countries,” Moosa claimed.

Earlier this year opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor was sentenced to six-months in jail after he refused to cooperate with the courts investigation into an alleged refusal to provide a urine sample. The High Court, however, quashed his conviction on the grounds that the Criminal Court had not followed due process when deeming him guilty.

Witness protection

In order to safeguard possible witnesses to a crime, the committee members have also agreed to bar those accused of major crimes from privately meeting attorneys and family for a period of 36 hours from the time of arrest – a decision supported by both the police and the judiciary.

Both High Court Judge Abbas Shareef and Criminal Court Judge Muhuthaaz Muhsin have spoken in favor of such a provision during the committee’s discussions, which have also seen contributions from the PG’s Office, Human Rights Commission (HRCM), and the police.

“In 80 percent of the murder cases, witnesses were tempered through threatening and intimidation, after the accused meets with his lawyers and family members. This is something that is being talked about and this is how it is done,” Judge Muhsin told the committee.

Meanwhile High Court Judge Shareef told the committee that in some jurisdictions a suspect of a major criminal offence is denied of the right to obtain legal counsel or to meet their family and relatives for a period of three days, while in others family and relatives are not even informed of the suspect’s location.

“In some US States, [such a suspect] is not even at all allowed to meet family or obtain legal counsel. There are countries which have laws that allow a suspect’s location of detention be made confidential for a period of 72 hours,” Shareef explained.

HRCM member Jeehan Mahmood objected to the provisions, however, citing violations of fundamental human rights.


No evidence to prove Corporal Atheef brutalized MDP Chairperson on February 8 says PIC

The Police Integrity Commission (PIC) has ruled that it had not come across substantial evidence supporting the claims of opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik being attacked by Corporal Mohamed Atheef  on February 8, 2012.

Last year on February 8, the MDP backed by thousands of its supporters took to the street in protest following the controversial ousting of the party – led government of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

The protest was met by a vigorous and a brutal crackdown by police officers – who the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) stated were “emotionally hyped and charged”.

The HRCM in its investigative report into the events concluded that the police crackdown on the MDP march, which left dozens of demonstrators injured, was “brutal” and “without prior warning.”

Manik who was at the forefront of the demonstration was seen singled out by the enraged police and in videos that later became public showed him being dragged by police unconscious and severely injured.

In another video, he along with ousted President Nasheed and MP Mariya Ahmed Didi were seen dragged out of a ceramic shop in Male’ by the police while Nasheed was heard in the video pleading the police to not to torture the people.

However, in a case report sent to Corporal Mohamed Atheef – whom Moosa alleged was one of the police officers who attacked him – the PIC stated that the commission was not able to obtain sufficient evidence required to prosecute Corporal Atheef.

The local media outlets reported that Coporal Atheef was seen in pictures and videos that had come out in public later.

Corporal Atheef however had denied the allegations.

“On that very day, I was trying to protect Moosa Manik and escort him safely out of the area. I have never tortured a Maldivian citizen even before and even now. I shall never torture anyone,” Corporal Atheef told Minivan News.

Despite PIC’s decision, the prosecutor general had pressed charges against another police officer Mohamed Waheed for allegedly hitting Manik in the head with a metal canister on the same day.

Another officer, Ibrahim Faisal is facing charges for assaulting MP Mariya Ahmed Didi.

The PIC had previously said that it had been looking into complaints of police misconduct especially during protests.


Deputy Minister paid salary with no record of attendance, Tourism Ministry audit report reveals

A Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture was paid salary and allowances from April 2011 to January 2012 with no official records of attendance, the ministry’s audit report for 2011 has revealed.

The audit report (Dhivehi) made public on Tuesday stated that a total of MVR 343,351 (US$22,267) was paid to the senior official for 10 months while there was no documentation to show that he “ever attended either the ministry or any office functioning under the ministry.”

The Auditor General recommended recovering the funds and taking action against the responsible staff at the ministry.

While there was no specific regulation governing attendance of political appointees at the time, the Auditor General contended that paying salaries without attendance records was against “the spirit of the public finance regulations.”

In addition, the audit discovered that the ministry gave a temporary license or authorisation to a private company to operate a tourist hotel at the Laamu atoll Kadhdhoo airport in violation of the Tourism Act.

The audit found that the permission was given despite an inspection report finding that the facility did not meet the criteria for a tourist guesthouse in terms of quality of service.

A tourist hotel is ranked higher than a guesthouse, the audit report noted.

Under articles 4, 18 and 19 of the tourism law, the report explained, a tourist hotel could not be operated on the plot at the regional airport.

The hotel was however operated from May 24, 2011 to December 25, 2011 before official permission or a permanent license was sought, the audit report noted.

Local media reported yesterday (November 28) that the guesthouse or hotel was operated by Heavy Load Maldives, a family business of MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, chairperson of the formerly ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

The Auditor General recommended submitting the case to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for further investigation.

Minivan News is seeking comment from former Tourism Minister Dr Mariyam Zulfa.

The audit report also noted that temporary authorisation or licenses for operating guesthouses were renewed “some times for over a year” while the facilities did not meet the requisite criteria.

Moreover, registration and licenses were provided to some dive centres and guesthouses without collecting registration and licensing fees.

In other cases highlighted in the report, the audit noted that documentation was not properly maintained for equipment such as camera and mobile phones purchased in 2010.

As a result, equipment provided for use by staff was not recovered when the employees left the office.

In addition, the Tourism Ministry did not maintain a detailed income registry with reference numbers and dates as required by the public finance regulations. The regulations require that the registry must be routinely shared with the Finance Ministry.

“However, inquiries for the Ministry of Tourism’s 2011 audit revealed that such a record [of income] was not prepared and maintained,” the audit report stated. “As a result, we note that it could not be confirmed whether the incomes due to the ministry was received in full.”

Offices and departments under the Tourism Ministry

The audit report noted that the Tourism Ministry’s audit for 2011 was conducted without any documentations or financial records from the Department of Information (DOI) operating under the ministry.

Repeated requests for documents from the department went unheeded, the report stated, adding that the financial statement of the DOI was not provided for the 2010 audit either.

On Monday (November 26), the President’s Office announced that the DOI has been abolished as new institutions formed by the 2008 constitutions carries out the functions previously performed by the department.

“Following this change, registration of media; formulating policies and facilitating the development of local media; creating the official Maldives’ calendar; maintaining the registry of journalists and writers; and, representing the Maldives internationally in the press field will be carried out by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture. Information to international media on local events will be given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” the President’s Office stated.

Meanwhile, concerning the other offices operating under the ministry, the audit found that employees of the Maldives Tourism Promotion Board (MTPB) were paid overtime salaries in violation of the civil service regulations for calculating overtime.

The audit also noted that clothing allowance was paid to all employees in January 2011 in anticipation of overseas trips to attend tourism fairs. However, the allowance was not recovered from two staff at MTPB who did not travel abroad during the year.

An audit of the National Centre for the Arts (NCA) meanwhile revealed that MVR 24,735 (US$1,604) was spent out of the budget on tickets for a lecturer and his family for a “one-day creative writing workshop” on November 19, 2011.

However, an official agreement was not signed between the lecturer and the NCA and there was no documentation at the centre regarding the workshop.

The NCA also spent MVR 33,000 (US$2,140) during a ten-day period on food for 20 staff working on a “Male’ Art Festival” in excess of the approved rate in the public finance regulations. Catering was also arranged without a public announcement after seeking quotations from only two parties, the audit found.

A total of MVR 19,750 (US$1,280) was spent on catering for seven events organised by the NCA in 2010 without seeking quotations from more than one party.

The catering contract was awarded to a particular party at a rate of MVR 50 per person while the public finance regulations specify a rate of MVR 40 per person.

Aside from a note from NCA and catering bills, the audit report noted that no other documentation for the transactions could be found at the NCA.


IPU to send human rights fact-finding mission to Maldives

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has decided to send a human rights mission to the Maldives “to gather first-hand information” on cases involving human rights abuses and political intimidation of MPs.

The decision was adopted by the IPU during its 127th Assembly in Quebec City, Canada, upon the recommendation of its Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians.

In a press release on Wednesday following the decision to send the fact-finding mission, the IPU expressed concern with the “on-going climate of violence and confrontation in the Maldives, expressing shock at the recent killing of MP Afrasheem Ali.”

“In a resolution on the case of 19 MPs from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), alleged victims of excessive violence, arbitrary arrests and criminal charges believed to be politically motivated, the Organisation is similarly perturbed by reports of renewed ill-treatment, detention and harassment by law enforcement officers,” the statement read.

“Maldives has been in political crisis since February when incumbent President Mohamed Nasheed was replaced by his Vice-President Mohamed Waheed. There has been growing international concern at the political intimidation and serious outbreaks of violence in the country.”

Aside from the concerned MPs in the human rights abuse cases, the press release added that the IPU mission will meet officials from the government, parliament and judiciary “at the invitation of the Maldives government.”

MDP MP for Galolhu North, Eva Abdulla, participated in the meeting of the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians on October 21.

In March, the MDP parliamentary group submitted cases alleging police brutality against the former ruling party’s MPs to the IPU’s human rights committee at the 126th Assembly held at Kampala, Uganda.

During the same meeting, Eva was unanimously elected as a member of the IPU’s Committee of Women Parliamentarians.

MDP Chairperson 'Reeko' Moosa Manik in intensive care.

The cases concerned targeted police brutality against MDP MPs on February 7 and 8, in particular on the latter date during a heavy-handed police crackdown on an MDP protest march that left scores injured and hospitalised, including former MDP parliamentary group leader and Hulhu-Henveiru MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik and Maafanu South MP Ibrahim Rasheed ‘Bonda’.

Three classified reports by the IPU concerning police brutality against MDP MPs have been shared with parliament and the executive since the transfer of presidential power on February 7, the party revealed this week.

No charges have been pressed to date against police officers of the Special Operations (SO) unit caught on camera beating civilians and MDP MPs.

The IPU is a global organisation of parliaments, established in 1889. It works to foster coordination and exchange between representative institutions across the globe. The IPU also offers technical support to affiliated nations. The Maldives has been a member of the organisation since 2005.


Criminal Procedure Code to be completed by end of week: MP Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik

Chair of Parliament’s ’241′ Security Services Committee, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik, has told local newspaper Haveeru that the country’s Criminal Procedure Code will be completed within a week.

“Even if it means meeting twice a day, the Committee members wish to complete the bill on criminal procedure during next week. There is unfinished work in the Parliament over the strengthening of the judicial system. So we are completing the bill on criminal procedure,” he was reported as saying.

Reeko added that representatives of both the Prosecutor General’s (PG) office and the Attorney General’s (AG) office would be assisting the committee with its work in analysing the current draft of the code.

Both Attorney General Azima Shukoor and Prosecutor General Ahmed Muizz were not responding to calls from Minivan News at the time of press.

Reeko added that Parliament’s Independent Commissions Committee will also assist efforts to complete the bill, while expertise of other relevant stakeholders would also be sought if deemed necessary.  He was not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.

The amendments follow a number of high profile murders that have taken place in the country this year.

In February 2012, a 21 year old man identified as Abdulla Muheeth was murdered by a gang after that allegedly mistook him for someone else.

On May 30, the body of a 16 year-old boy was discovered by police inside the park behind Kulliyathul Dhirasathul Islamiyya.

The following day, a 65 year-old man identified as Hassan Abubakur was found murdered inside his own house on the island of Manafaru in Noonu Atoll.

A month later, Prominent Lawyer Ahmed Najeeb was found brutally murdered.

On the same month, 26 year-old police officer Lance Corporal Adam Haleem was stabbed to death on Kaashidhoo island in Kaafu Atoll while trying to apprehend a suspected criminal.

The latest high-profile nurder was that of religious scholar and MP Dr Afrasheem Ali.

The MP, a representative of the government-aligned Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) was found murdered outside his home after returning home from appearing on the TVM show “Islamee Dhiriulhun” (Islamic Life) with Deputy Minister of Islamic Affairs Mohamed Qubad Aboobakuru.

Following the deaths, parliament was subjected to public criticism and condemnation over claims it had not passed adequate laws to combat fears of growing criminal activity in the country.

However, responding to the criticism, several parliamentarians claimed that they had passed the necessary bills and it was the responsibility of the authorities to execute the passed laws.

The recent murders have given rise to growing calls from the public to implement death penalty under Islamic Sharia.  The government of President Waheed has stated that it is in the process of proposing a bill on death penalty very soon.

Under Islamic Sharia, the death penalty is the punishment of a murderer (one who kills deliberately) and that he is to be killed in retaliation (Qisaas) unless the victim’s next of kin let him off or agree to accept the ‘Diyah’ (blood money).

In April 2012, the PPM MP Ahmed Mahloof proposed an amendment to the Clemency Act (Act no 2/2010) which would make performing the death penalty mandatory in the event it was upheld by the Supreme Court.

His amendment would require the President to enforce any death penalty if the Supreme Court issued the verdict of death, or if the Supreme Court supported the ruling of the death penalty made by either the Criminal Court or the High Court.

The move would halt the current practice of the President commuting such sentences to life imprisonment.

“I believe nobody would want to die. So if the death penalty is enforced, a person who is to commit a murder would clearly know that if he carries out the act, his punishment would be his life. I believe this will deter him from committing such acts,” Mahloof said following the submission of the amendment.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Rasheed and later MP Ibrahim Muthalib had also previously submitted similar amendments to the Clemency Act, although both men subsequently withdrew the motions.

Although death sentences are issued by courts in the Maldives, traditionally those sentences a commuted to life imprisonment under the power vested in the President.

From January 2001 to December 2010, a total of 14 people were sentenced to death by the courts.  None of these sentences have been carried out.

The last person to be executed in the Maldives after receiving a death sentence was in 1953 during the first republican President Mohamed Ameen. Hakim Didi was charged with attempting to assassinate President Ameen using black magic.