The government has announced its intention to introduce a bill to the People’s Majlis in order to guide and govern the implementation of the death penalty in the country.
“It is currently a punishment passed by the judiciary and a form of punishment available within the penal system of the Maldives,” said Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed.
“But for full guidance and matters governing the matter, legislation is required,” he added.
A meeting of the cabinet yesterday strongly condemned last week’s murder of MP Dr Afrasheem Ali and urged President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan to start taking immediate measures to ensure safety and security in the country.
President’s Office spokesman Masood Imad said that the government had received a large number of calls for implementing the death penalty.
“We are having enormous pressure since these high profile murders,” he said. “We have indications – the talk around the town – that there will be more murders.”
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has this week proposed a no-confidence motion against the home minister, citing the unprecedented instances of murder and assault in the country since he assumed office in February.
Afrasheem’s murder was the 10th in the small country this year, sparking much debate on the death penalty.
Following the murder of high profile lawyer Ahmed Najeeb on July 1, two people were sentenced to death after Najeeb’s heirs opted for qisas (equal retaliation) rather than blood money.
Public outcry over Najeeb’s murder prompted Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz to declare that full enforcement of the courts’ rulings is necessary to maintain the effectiveness of the judiciary.
A case was submitted to the High Court in August, requesting that it annul the President’s ability to commute death sentences to 25 years imprisonment, provided in the Clemency Act.
Similarly, in April Ahmed Mahloof – parliamentary group member from the government-aligned Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) – proposed an amendment to the Clemency Act to ensure that the enforcement of the death penalty be mandatory in the event it was upheld by the Supreme Court.
In a comment piece written for Haveeru following Najeeb’s murder, however, Special Advisor to the President Dr Hassan Saeed warned that implementing the death penalty could be both arbitrary and prohibitively expensive.