Maldives executions to start ‘within days’

August 1, 2017

The Maldives is preparing to execute prisoners within days, according to fresh reports – breaking a moratorium that has lasted 60 years.

According to the Maldivian newspaper Vaguthu, Home Minister Azleen Ahmed has confirmed that the government will carry out executions in “a few days time.” While Mr Ahmed did not confirm the date on which executions would take place, he said efforts to initiate executions hadn’t lost their “fast pace.”

International human rights organization Reprieve is concerned that three men who have had their death sentences confirmed by the Supreme Court could be the first to be executed.

A de facto moratorium on the death penalty has been in place in the Maldives for more than 60 years. However, after coming to power in 2013, President Abdullah Yameen enacted a regulation reintroducing the death penalty, bypassing the country’s Parliament after it rejected a proposed new death penalty law. Since then Mr Yameen has repeatedly threatened to carry out executions.

Forced confessions, politically-motivated charges, and other abuses are commonplace in the Maldives. Children and those suffering from mental illness have been sentenced to death, in violation of international law.

Today’s reports come amid growing concerns about the government’s plans. Maldivian experts including the Maldivian Democracy Network, Transparency Maldives, late liberal blogger Yameen Rasheed, and former Presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Mohamed Nasheed have all warned against the move.

Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan, of Oxford University, has written to President Yameen’s government raising concerns that carrying out the execution “would contravene the fundamental principles of Islamic law.”

The UK government has also called on the Maldives to prevent executions, while earlier this week, Sir Richard Branson – an investor in the country – similarly urged President Yameen to “back away from the damaging path he has chosen for his country.”

Commenting, Director of Reprieve, Maya Foa said:

“To break a moratorium on executions that has held for half a century would be a wanton, destructive and futile act by a President seeking to distract from the turmoil in his own government. Resuming executions now will do nothing to make the Maldives safer – and amid serious fears over the fairness of trials and the independence of the courts, it could lead to grave miscarriages of justice. President Yameen must urgently heed the warnings from Maldivian experts and the country’s international friends, and halt these ill-advised executions.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

Editors:

1. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications@reprieve.org.uk, or +44 (0) 207 553 8160