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UN rights office condemns Maldives death penalty revival
27 May, 2014 13:45:04
GENEVA, April 29, 2014 (AFP) - The UN human rights office on Tuesday voiced concern over moves to revive the death penalty in the Maldives, including for minors, after a six-decade freeze on capital punishment in the Indian Ocean archipelago.
"We are deeply concerned about a new regulation adopted in the Maldives on implementation of the death penalty, which effectively overturns a 60-year moratorium on the use of capital punishment in the country," said Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Under new rules adopted by the Maldives government on Sunday, death sentences can now be handed down for murder even if the defendant is aged under 18, Shamdasani told reporters.

The age of criminal responsibility in the Maldives is 10, but children as young as seven can be held responsible for so-called "hadd" offences under Islamic law, she said.

"The new regulation means that children as young as seven can now be sentenced to death," she warned.

"According to the new regulation, minors convicted of intentional murder shall be executed once they turn 18. Similar provisions in the recently ratified Penal Code, allowing for the application of the death penalty for crimes committed when below the age of 18, are also deeply regrettable," she added.

Shamdasani stressed that international law stipulates that individuals convicted for offences committed before they turn 18 should not be sentenced to death or life imprisonment without possibility of release.

"We urge the government to retain its moratorium on the use of the death penalty in all circumstances, particularly in cases that involve juvenile offenders and to work towards abolishing the practice altogether," she said.

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