Sermons question presidential authority on clemency: local media

Imams across the Maldives yesterday used their sermons to question the president’s authority to grant clemency for criminals sentenced to death in the country, local media has reported.

The Sun Online news service reported that yesterday’s Friday prayers were used to raise the issue of death sentences in the country, with imams saying that only the heirs of an alleged victim could decide on pardoning a criminal sentenced to be executed.

According to the report, the sermons also stressed that failure to implement the death penalty over fears of human activists or “powerful countries” was not allowed in Islam.

Speaking to Minivan News earlier this month, Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz said that more than 10 people have been sentenced to death in the past decade, out of which, none have been executed by the authorities tasked with the role.

For the past 60 years, the state has been commuting these death sentences to life imprisonment (25 years).

“The Maldives judicial system is constructed in a manner whereby another body is responsible to enforce the punishment once it is decided by the court,” Faiz explained.
“Not only in murder cases, but if all court verdicts on all crimes are properly enforced,  we will see the [positive] outcomes of these verdicts,” the Supreme court judge noted.

A motion related to death penalty is currently being reviewed in parliament which, if passed, will make the enforcement of the death penalty mandatory in the event it is upheld by the Supreme Court. This development would bring to an end the current practice of the country’s president commuting such sentences to life imprisonment.