UN asks Maldives to retain death penalty moratorium

Voicing concern over recent developments pertaining to capital punishment in Maldives, the UN Human Rights chief has exhorted the government to refrain from carrying out planned executions and uphold the de facto moratorium that has been in place in the country for over six decades.
“The Maldives has long provided important leadership on global efforts to bring an end to the use of death penalty, so it is deeply regrettable that a series of steps have been taken to resume executions in the country,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a press release.
Last November, the High Court decided that the President may no longer exercise the power of commuting death sentences to life imprisonment.
In June this year, capital punishment regulations were further amended to allow for hanging in addition to lethal injections as methods of execution. Further, in July, the Supreme Court issued an order, cancelling the stay order issued by the High Court and reiterated that its decisions on death sentences are final.
“The death penalty is not effective in deterring crime,” Zeid said, adding “a judiciary that is unable to consistently apply fair trial standards and is marred by politicisation, must not be allowed to have the final say in matters of life and death.”
“There are currently 17 individuals on death row in Maldives. Some cases raise serious due process concerns, with three of them at imminent risk of execution,” he said.
“Maldives has upheld the right to life for more than 60 years,” the High Commissioner said, urging the leaders and the people of the Maldives “to continue to uphold the moratorium on the death penalty and work towards prohibiting the practice altogether.”

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