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Maldives opposition cries foul as govt gears up for executions

Mohamed Visham
20 June 2016, MVT 14:16
A sit-down of the newly formed opposition coalition in UK.
Mohamed Visham
20 June 2016, MVT 14:16

The newly formed opposition coalition accused the government of bringing back the death penalty under a questionable judicial system .

Maldives United Opposition in a statement expressed grave concern over the government rushing to impose the death penalty at a time when the public has lost trust in the justice system.

The newly formed opposition alliance had said it will seek to oust incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and form an interim government to ensure free and fair elections scheduled in 2018.

Five rival opposition groups had announced a united front to remove president Yameen from office.

The Maldives United Opposition brings together the Maldivian Democratic Party, the Adhaalath Party, two of president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's former deputies and his former defence minister.

The statement also alleged that the move was to remove all political opponents and hide mass corruption being committed by the government with president Yameen at the helm.

The opposition's concerns came after government has amended the capital punishment law to adopt hanging instead of lethal injection.

Maldives overturned a six-decade-old moratorium on capital punishment with the adoption of a new regulation that allows for the death penalty to be used to punish certain crimes.

The Maldivian government enacted the regulation, which makes provision for execution by lethal injection, for the crimes of premeditated murder or deliberate manslaughter.

Speaking to Al Kaun TV, the home minister said foreign governments had advised the change from lethal injection to death by hanging.

“We spoke with countries with experience in using lethal injection. In light of those consultations, we’ve decided that hanging was the best method of execution,” Umar explained.

According to Umar, the relevant authorities can implement the death penalty within 30 days after the convict exhausts the appeal process. The government has all the facilities in place to follow through with executions, Umar added.

He also reiterated that the only way for the authorities to ensure sustained peace and stability in the Maldives is to implement the death penalty.

Since reenacted, 20 people have been sentenced to death but all the cases are yet to complete the entire appeal process.

While the age of criminal responsibility is 10 in the Maldives, some crimes under the country’s Sharia laws — known as Hadd offenses — have an age of responsibility of 7. This means that juveniles could potentially face execution in the archipelago.

The government had included MVR4 million in the budget this year to build an execution chamber.

However, over mounting pressure from human rights bodies, companies have been refusing to supply the fatal dose to countries still carrying out capital punishment, the government had said earlier.

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