Header image for news printout

UN rights experts urge Maldives to halt execution and maintain 60 year-old unofficial moratorium

GENEVA (1 July 2016) – Four United Nations human rights experts* today urged the Government of Maldives to halt the execution of Hussain Humaam Ahmed, and to re-try him in compliance with international standards. They further called on the Maldivian authorities to uphold the unofficial moratorium on capital punishment in force for the last six decades.

“Criminal proceedings against Mr. Ahmed did not afford him guarantees of fair trial and due process,” said the independent experts on arbitrary detention, summary executions, torture and independence of the judiciary.

“The implementation of a death sentence following judicial procedures which do not respect the most stringent guarantees of fair trial and due process is unlawful and tantamount to an arbitrary execution,” they stressed.

The 22-year-old Maldivian, who is at imminent risk of execution, was sentenced to death in 2014 for the alleged murder of a former Member of Parliament and religious scholar, Afrasheem Ali in 2012.

The human rights experts noted that the Maldives Supreme Court upheld the conviction and death sentence on 24 June, while the investigation was still ongoing, and that the accusation and the murder verdict was based on a pre-trial confession obtained under duress.

“The courts have also disregarded a claim that the defendant has a psycho-social or intellectual disability and a request for an independent evaluation of his mental health status,” they added. “Mr. Ahmed’s defence rights were disrespected”

In upholding the death sentence, the Supreme Court has reportedly refused to accept letters from the victim’s next of kin indicating that they do not wish to impose the death sentence on Mr. Ahmed under the Qisas process while criminal investigations remain incomplete.

“These procedures contravene international standards of fair trial and due process, as well as Article 52 of the Maldivian Constitution, which provides that ‘No confession shall be admissible in evidence unless made in court by an accused who is in a sound state of mind,’” the experts noted.

The Government of Maldives re-introduced capital punishment in 2014 through the adoption of the Regulation on the Implementation of the Death Penalty, without passing a law, as required by article 21 of the Constitution.

“The reinstitution of the death sentence and resumption of executions after more than 60 years is not only unconstitutional, it also runs counter to the international trend towards the abolition of the death penalty,” the human rights experts underscored.

(*) The experts: Mr. Sètondji Roland Adjovi, Chair-Rapporteur of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mr. Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on summary or arbitrary executions; Mr. Juan E. Méndez, UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; and Ms. Mónica Pinto, UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers.

The Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Learn more, log on to:
Arbitrary Detention:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Detention/Pages/WGADIndex.aspx
Summary executions: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Executions/Pages/SRExecutionsIndex.aspx
Torture: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/SRTorture/Pages/SRTortureIndex.aspx
Independence of the judiciary: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Judiciary/Pages/IDPIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Maldives: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/MVIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests please contact Brenda Vukovic (+41 22 917 96 35/ bvukovic@ohchr.org), Jon Izagirre (+41 22 91 79715 / jizagirre@ohchr.org) or write to eje@ohchr.org.

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

For your news websites and social media: Multimedia content & key messages relating to our news releases are available on UN Human Rights social media channels, listed below. Please tag us using the proper handles:
Twitter: @UNHumanRights
Facebook: unitednationshumanrights
Instagram: unitednationshumanrights
Google+: unitednationshumanrights
Youtube: unohchr