24 December 2023 :
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Maldives government to refrain from a planned move to reintroduce the death penalty in the Muslim-majority South Asian nation.
The Maldives imposed a moratorium on the death penalty in the 1950s. However, successive governments have been pushing for reinstating capital punishment, sparking concerns from rights groups.
President Mohamed Muizzu should reconsider his government’s plan to reinstate the death penalty, Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at the HRW said in a statement on December 21, 2023.
“The Maldivian criminal justice system should align with the global trend toward abolishing this cruel and inhumane practice,” Gossman said.
HRW also pointed out that international and domestic human rights organizations have raised serious concerns over the planned enforcement of the death penalty in the Maldives, the statement read.
The concerns from the organizations “are heightened by the Maldivian judiciary’s history of corruption, politicization, and failure to provide justice and accountability for past crimes,” HRW said.
The rights group said it denounced the death penalty in all circumstances because of its inherent cruelty.
The reaction from HRW came after Maldivian Home Minister Ali Ihusan said on Dec. 20 that the government would enforce the death penalty after making necessary considerations, Sun Siyam Media reported.
“We will look into the necessary arrangements and considerations required in relation to this and carry this out in accordance with the laws and regulations of the Maldives,” Ihusan was quoted saying.
Former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom had announced plans to enforce the death penalty during his administration, triggering legal challenges and international pressure.
Gayoom later said that while he supports the enforcement of the death penalty, the public has doubts about the fairness of the investigative and judicial process.
His successor President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had said that he did not wish to enforce the death penalty, Sun Siyam Media reported.
Maldives has 19 individuals under the death sentence, according to the World Coalition Against Death Penalty (WCADP).
The methods of capital punishment include hanging and lethal injection.
Maldives is not a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
This multilateral treaty requires commitments from nations to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights, and rights to due process and a fair trial.
Maldives is also not a party to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.
The country does not have a mandatory death penalty clause under its current laws, the WCADP pointed out.