'Death penalty talk only a campaign ploy', Maldives opposition alleges

Incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom won't enforce the death penalty in the Maldives, a senior opposition lawmaker alleged Tuesday accusing the president of using it as a campaign ploy to garner votes in the upcoming presidential elections slated for next year.

Since taking office in 2013, president Yameen has been pushing to enforce the death penalty after ending the de facto moratorium that has been in place in the country for over six decades.

In June last year, capital punishment regulations were amended to allow for hanging in addition to lethal injections as methods of execution.

The government has already set-up an execution chamber in the country's main prison in Maafushi island and had announced plans for a second.

President Yameen had in August said the government would implement the death penalty in September, which however is yet to materialize.

Opposition Jumhoory Party (JP) deputy leader Abdulla Riyaz on Twitter accused the president of using talks of enforcing the death penalty to influence some voters.

"By the time this term ends in 2018, president Yameen won't enforce the death penalty," the Kibindhoo MP alleged.

There are currently three convicts on death row who have been sentenced. They are Hussain Humam convicted of murdering Dr Afrasheem Ali, Ahmed Murrath convicted of murdering Ahmed Najeeb and Mohamed Nabeel convicted of murdering Abdulla Farhad.

Amnesty International has recently accused the government of looking to enforce the death penalty to divert attention from the ongoing political turmoil in the archipelago.

“For more than sixty years, the Maldives led the way in the region by shunning this cruel and irreversible punishment. Now, when most of the world has rid itself of the death penalty, the country risks being on the wrong side of history and earning global notoriety for reviving its use,” said Biraj Patnaik, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.