The European Union (EU) jointly with eight nations have issued a diplomatic demarche urging the Maldives government to stop its efforts to implement the death penalty in the archipelago.
Top diplomats of the EU, UK, Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Norway, France, Canada and Australia had delivered the demarche which is used to request for support of a policy or protest another government’s policy to the Maldivian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, Zahiya Zareer.
The demarche had urged the government to continue to apply the de facto moratorium on executions as a first step towards its abolition.
The nations noted the two death sentences upheld by the country’s top court recently which could make way for the first executions in the Maldives for over half a century.
“The death penalty fails to deter criminal behaviour and represents a grave denial of human dignity and integrity,” the demarche read.
“Any miscarriage of justice – which is inevitable in any legal system – is irreversible”
The Supreme Court upheld Tuesday a death sentence handed to a 32-year-old man convicted of murdering a prominent lawyer.
Ahmed Murrath was convicted along with his girlfriend of killing a prominent lawyer, Ahmed Najeeb, whose mutilated body was found stuffed in a dustbin in July 2012.
The ruling comes less than two weeks after the court upheld its first death sentence since the government ended an unofficial moratorium on capital punishment in 2014.
Hussain Humam Ahmed faces the death penalty for the brutal murder MP Dr Afrasheem Ali’s murder in October 2012.
Both Humam and Murrath had claimed coercion in their respective confessions which were ignored by the top court.
Humam’s case had sparked international concern after the court ignored a plea by Afrasheem’s family to hold off the death penalty citing an incomplete investigation.
The Supreme Court had also rejected defence’s claim of mental illness.
Renowned Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan had urged the Maldives government to halt Humam’s execution insisting that the question marks surrounding the sentence would make the execution contravene the fundamental principles of Islamic law.
Ramadan joins four UN rights experts, the EU and Amnesty International to urge the government continue to apply the de facto moratorium on executions.
Meanwhile, foreign minister Dhunya Maumoon stepped down last week over what she described as a profound differences of opinion with the government’s bid to enforce the death penalty.
In a statement shared with the media, Dunya said the resignation was “one of the most difficult decisions” she has taken.
“Yet, the decision became inevitable because of the profound differences of opinion on the government’s policy in implementing the death penalty at a time when serious questions are being asked, and concerns being expressed, about the delivery of justice in the Maldives,” she said.
“I remain convinced that the Government’s policy on death penalty, decided on a hasty fashion, would be detrimental to the image and reputation of the Maldives and would be a significant obstacle in achieving the President [Abdulla] Yameen’s foreign policy goals, and building a resilient Maldives,” she added.