The UN country team in the Maldives has issued a statement calling for the abolition of both corporal punishment and the death penalty in the Maldives.
While the Maldives still issues death sentences, these have traditionally been commuted to life sentences by presidential decree since the execution of Hakim Didi in 1956, for the crime of practicing black magic.
Recent calls for presidential clemency to be blocked led former attorney general Azima Shukoor to draft a bill favouring the implementation of the penalty via lethal injection. It was met with opposition by several religious groups such as the NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf, which called for the draft to be amended in favour of beheadings or firing squads.
More recently, the state has called for a High Court verdict on whether the practice of presidential clemency can be annulled.
The Maldives continues to issue and implement flogging sentences for certain crimes, notably extra-marital sex. The vast majority of those sentenced are women.
An earlier call by UN High Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay in 2011 calling for a moratorium on flogging as a punishment for extramarital sex led to protesters gathering outside the UN building, carrying placards with angry slogans including “Islam is not a toy”, “Ban UN” and “Flog Pillay”.
Earlier this year, widespread global publicity of such a sentence handed to a 15 year-old rape victim led to two million people signing an Avaaz petition calling for an end to the practice of flogging in the Maldives.
In its statement, the UN team in the Maldives called for the Maldives to ensure its legislation and practices fulfilled the international human rights obligations to which it was signatory.
Source: Minivan News, May 22, 2013