Maldives: Authorities must halt first execution in more than 60 years

The Maldives authorities must immediately halt its first execution planned in more than 60 years and preserve its positive death penalty record, Amnesty International said today.

Amnesty has learned that three men, whose death sentences were made final by the Supreme Court in 2016, are now at risk of imminent execution as reports emerged that the authorities have been preparing to implement death sentences. Officially, the number and names of the prisoners involved have not been disclosed.

David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Senior Advisor on South Asia, said:

“The Maldives authorities must immediately halt plans to carry out any executions and establish an official moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty as a first step towards its full abolition. By sending these men to the gallows, the country will do irreparable damage to its reputation.

“The country was a leader in the region with an enviable record of shunning this cruel and irreversible punishment at a time when many other countries persisted with it. Now, when most of the world has abolished the death penalty, it is heading in the wrong direction by reviving its use.”

Amnesty has been raising serious concerns about the fairness of the proceedings that led to the imposition of the death penalty in the country. In the case of one of the three men at more imminent risk, Hussain Humaam Ahmed, Amnesty and other human rights organisations have raised serious concerns about the use of evidence at a pre-trial “confession” that he retracted as coerced and which led to his conviction and death sentence for murder in 2012.

Ahmed Murrath was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 2012, and Mohamed Nabeel was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 2009. The Supreme Court upheld both men’s death sentences in July 2016.

The three men have exhausted all domestic legal avenues. They have not been allowed to apply for pardon or the commutation of their death sentences.

Amnesty International is absolutely opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances, regardless of the crime or the method of execution.

Last year, the UN Human Rights Committee issued a binding order to stay the execution of one of the individuals, pending the consideration of an appeal filed on the prisoner’s behalf.

David Griffiths said:

“When lives are at stake, it is all the more critical that safeguards of due process are strictly observed. It is also concerning that under international law, the Maldives must ensure that death row prisoners and their families are given reasonable advance notice. But in this case, they have even been denied the dignity that is their right.”

Background

In 2014, the Maldives Government, under President Abdulla Yameen, announced that executions would resume after more than 60 years without the death penalty being implemented.

The authorities have since amended legislation, clearing the way for executions to take place, including removing the power from the executive to grant pardons or commutations in intentional murder cases, a breach of their rights under international human rights law.

There are 20 people currently on death row, including at least five who were convicted and sentenced to death for crimes committed when they were less than 18 years old. Under international human rights law, it is unlawful to execute juveniles for any crime whatsoever.

As of today, 141 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. In the Asia-Pacific region, 20 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes and a further seven are abolitionist in practice.

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