Four United Nations human rights experts on Friday urged the government to halt the execution of Hussain Humam Ahmed, and to re-try him in compliance with international standards.
They called on the 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 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.