White sand, blue sea, palms and death penalty for children. This is the sad reality of the republic of Maldives since the 27th of April 2014 when death penalty was reintroduced. A seven year-old child can be sentenced to death for certain crime.
Jacques Maillot, former CEO of the travel agency “TUI” has called for an “immediate boycott” of the destination. “It is possible to asphyxiate the country and to bring down the Maldivian government”, said Jacques Maillot on the French radio RMC. The republic of Maldives depends on tourism, as it is their first economic industry. Contacted by myself, TUI wasn’t able to comment theses declarations. On their website, the agency is still selling travels to the Maldives.
The Republic of Maldives is an archipelago of more than 1,110 islands and atolls in the Indian Ocean, south-west of India, with a population of little more than 350,000 people. It is also the paradise for hotel groups and and a destination of choice for 900,000 rich tourists every year. In 2013, the Maldives was already under the threat of a touristic boycott after the Maldivian justice sentenced a 15 year-old girl to 100 lashes for “fornication”. Her stepfather had repeatedly raped her while she was growing up. Thanks to this threat, the High Court of Justice overturned the sentence.
“Murder has to be punished by murder”
The new legislation took international proportion after a 16-year-old boy has been charged with murder over a fatal stabbing in the archipelago. Officially, he is the first minor who committed a crime susceptible of death punishment since the new law. He is accused of stabbing a 21-year-old man to death in December 2012 during a drug-related fight in the capital Male.
According to the Maldives police spokesperson, five people were arrested in connection with the stabbing. Three of the suspects were children. Two aged of 16 and one aged of 14. The boy charged with murder will stay in the corridor of death until he is 18 years old. A report from the Haveeru newspaper said that more than 20 people had been condemned to death sentence since the 27th of April 2014.
The Maldives Islamic government had decided to reintroduced death sentence for minor, after the number of murders increased in the islands. For the actual president of the touristic archipelago, Abdulla Yameen, “Murder has to be punished with murder”. “It is not something new. It is practiced in Islamic sharia and common law,” he said.
The Maldives Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer justified this decision because of a “lively criminal environment” and overcrowded prisons. He added that the Maldives is “a 100% Islamic country and there are certain values that we all believe in.” Facilities are now built in the main prison of the country to carry out the executions, which will be implemented by lethal injection.
7 years old and responsible
In the Maldives, where Islam is a state religion, the sharia law is very strict. The age of criminal responsibility is 10 years old, but for hadd offences, children as young as 7 can be held responsible. Hadd or Hudud usually refers to the class of punishments that are fixed for certain crimes that are considered to be “claims of God.” Hadd offences include theft, adultery, alcohol consumption, fornication, and apostasy and blasphemy. The punishments include: capital sentence by sword or crucifixion, amputation or hands or feet and flogging with a varying number of strokes.
“According to the new regulation, minors convicted of intentional murder shall be executed once they turn 18. Similar provisions in the recently ratified Penal Code, allowing for the application of the death penalty for crimes committed when below the age of 18, are also deeply regrettable,” said Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The OHCR urges the Maldives government to “retains its moratorium on the use of death penalty in all circumstances and to work toward abolishing the practice”.
The United Nations and European Union have also warned the Maldives government after death penalty for children was reintroduced after a moratorium that had been in place since 1953. According to the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, “The death penalty is cruel and inhumane, and has not been shown in any way to act as a deterrent to crime.”
In 2006, the Republic of Maldives had signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, that forbids death sentence to minor.
Since the coup d’état, in 2008, the Republic of Maldives became more Islamic. For example, constitutional amendment denied non-Muslims the right to be Maldivian citizens. Alcohol and pork product are only available at the airport and in some resort employing foreign workers. “Idols” from other religions are forbidden.
Regularly, young girls are condemned to be lashed for the crime of pre-marital sex. A survey conducted by the organisation Avaaz found out that one in three woman between the ages of 15 and 49 has suffered either physical or sexual abuse over the past five years. Nine out of 10 sentences for flogging in the Maldives in 2011 were given to women. However, no one has been sentenced of rape in the same year.