Progress on human rights was hampered by the ongoing political impasse between the President and the opposition-dominated parliament. The government kept flogging as a punishment in an apparent attempt to appease opposition demands to retain it in Maldivian law. An opposition campaign for strict application of Shari’a stifled public moves towards religious freedom. The government took no action to bring to justice those responsible for human rights violations during the 30-year rule of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called for a moratorium on flogging, sparking a national debate on the punishment in November. The debate ended in late December with the opposition Adhalaat Party calling for strict application of Shari’a, and for flogging to be retained in law to “protect Islam”. Other opposition politicians endorsed the call.
Statistics on the number of people flogged were not available, but human rights defenders reported that courts frequently imposed the punishment, which was then carried out behind the court premises.Top of page
Calls for religious freedom and tolerance were swiftly quashed by influential Islamist groups and other opposition politicians.
The Maldives continued to lack a codified body of laws capable of providing justice equally to all. Some laws were too vaguely formulated to prevent miscarriages of justice. Most judges had no formal training in law, yet exercised considerable discretion – often based on their own interpretation of Islamic law – in determining an offence and its appropriate punishment. A draft penal code intended to address these shortcomings remained dormant in parliament.Top of page