Maldives top court issued new guidelines Sunday allowing death sentences and public lashing rulings issued by lower courts to be appealed automatically at the High Court.
In a circular, the Supreme Court said if the defendant fails to appeal death sentences and public lashing verdicts within 10 days, the court that had initially issued the verdict should forward the relevant documents to the High Court. The appellate court would have seven days to notify both the defendant and the prosecution of the appeal and during that period should take the necessary steps to begin appeal proceedings, it added.
The new rules follow similar guidelines issued by the apex court last week.
Supreme Court issued new guidelines on November 8 giving a month-long window for the last chance to appeal death sentences and public lashings backed by High Court.
According to the guidelines, if a defendant fails to appeal a High Court verdict in favour of death sentences and public lashing rulings within a 30-day period, the appeal can then only be filed at the Supreme Court by the prosecution.
The guidelines, included in a circular signed by Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, did not specifically mention sentences of death and public lashing. However, it says that High Court rulings that need to be reconfirmed by the Supreme Court had to be appealed within 30 days, including public holidays.
Under local laws, the only sentences that need to be reconfirmed by the Supreme Court are death sentences and public lashing verdicts.
Judicature Act earlier granted a 90-day period, excluding public holidays, to appeal rulings by any court.
However, the Supreme Court had in January annulled that clause and issued new guidelines under which rulings issued by lower courts had to be appealed at the High Court within 10 days and appeal over High Court verdicts needed to be filed at the Supreme Court within 60 days.
Meanwhile, government has included funds in the proposed state budget for next year to establish an execution chamber at the country's main prison to carry out the death penalty.
The proposed budget for next year, which is currently being reviewed by the parliament, includes MVR4 million to build an execution chamber. However, the correctional service was not immediately available for comment.
Maldives adopted a new regulation last year under which lethal injection would be used to implement the death penalty.
However, over mounting pressure from human rights bodies, companies have been refusing to supply the fatal dose to countries still carrying out capital punishment.
Home minister Umar Naseer had earlier said the correctional service would be ready to implement the death penalty by the time a death sentence is upheld by the Supreme Court. There are around 10 people on death row at present, but none of whom has exhausted the appeal process thus far.
Source: haveeru.com, November 16, 2015