MALDIVES: DEATH PENALTY REGULATIONS ENACTED
April 27, 2014: detailed regulations on the implementation of the death sentence came into force following their publication in the Government gazette.
The regulation only allows implementation of death penalty for intentional homicide or premeditated murder and only when the sentence is delivered by the Supreme Court. A death penalty committee comprised of the Prosecutor General, Chief Justice (or someone appointed by him) and the Commissioner of Prisons have to send a written confirmation to the President that all procedures of the regulation have been followed. After receiving this confirmation, the President is required to send an execution order to the Commissioner of Prisons within 3 days. Within 7 days of receiving this order, the Maldives Correctional Service (MCS) has to carry out the execution using lethal injection.
The regulation requires Ministry of Islamic Affairs to mediate between the victim's family and the convict. Through this process, which reflects the Sharia principle of qisas (retaliation), family members who are 'warith' (heirs) will be given an opportunity to pardon the convict with or without receiving blood money. The execution will not be carried out even if a single member of the family chooses to pardon the convict. The family is given a 10-day period following the mediation to come to a decision.
Speaking at a press conference, Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer said the chances of killing an innocent person after completing all the procedures in the regulation were "far-fetched" and "almost impossible". Responding to a question about implementing stricter punishments for other crimes as well, Naseer said the decision to implement death penalty for murder is just a first step and noted that "the Quran was also revealed through different stages." "Look at this as a 1st step. God willing, this government will take all necessary action for keeping peace and creating a safe environment for our citizens," he said.
While Maldives has been maintaining an unofficial moratorium on the death penalty since 1953, several people have been sentenced to death over the years. The common practice had been for the President to commute all death sentences to life imprisonment through powers vested in him by Clemency Act. With the new regulation, the President will no longer have this authority if a person is sentenced to death for murder by the Supreme Court, Naseer noted. Both President Abdulla Yameen and Vice President Mohamed Jameel have expressed their support for implementing the death penalty.
The executions would be carried out at a building in Maafushi Prison, which is under construction, and would be witnessed by the Commissioner of Prisons, 3 members of the public, a state attorney and a medical doctor. (Sources: Minivan News and Haveeru, 27/04/2014)