It’s been heart-breaking to watch what is happening on the beautiful island nation of the Maldives, a country for which I have long had such great affection and respect.
In the latest chapter of the Maldives’ descent into authoritarian rule, President Abdulla Yameen is apparently planning to carry out the first execution in over 60 years. It’s an awful political move that will send the country back to the Dark Ages of human rights.
The President will say that the death penalty is necessary to crack down on the rise in violent crime that has swept across the Maldives since 2011. He will say there are terrorists everywhere who need to be stamped out, and the only way to deter criminals is to execute them quickly. He will dismiss concerns about unfair trials and enfeebled judges as of lesser importance than the maintenance of security.
But none of this is true. The truth is, violence breeds violence. You only need to look around the world to see that countries that organise the killing of their own citizens suffer higher rates of violent crime thanthose who focus on rehabilitation and reconciliation.
It’s a vicious cycle. US states that have the death penalty suffer higher rates of murder than those that don’t. Hong Kong abolished the death penalty more than a decade ago and records no more homicides than Singapore, which maintains the mandatory death penalty for murder.
Any observer can see it is the current climate of political instability that has led to the tragic disorder we now see. Recent days have seen an escalation in uncertainty, with MPs being arrested on trumped up charges after a spate of defections from the ruling party, by those who wish to see a real alternative to the current chaotic and corrupt regime.
The elite in the army and judiciary used their influence to stir instability rather than support peaceful democracy and much-needed reform. Instead of crushing dissent through violence and repression, President Yameen should take steps to strengthen democratic institutions by protecting fundamental human rights.
As a responsible global citizen, I care about where my money is spent and how I conduct my business. President Yameen can still back away from the damaging path he has chosen for his country. If not, I hope the international community – governments and business alike – will react accordingly. The wonderful people of the Maldives deserve better than this.
Sign Reprieve’s petition to stop the execution in the Maldives: https://act.reprieve.org.uk/StopMaldivesExecutions