Death penalty threat­ens trou­ble in par­adise

The Press - - World -

MAL­DIVES: Hol­i­day firms of­fer­ing trips to the Mal­dives have been urged by hu­man rights ac­tivists to con­demn the ex­pected ex­e­cu­tion of three men that will bring a bru­tal end to the coun­try’s 60-year mora­to­rium on the death penalty.

Sir Richard Bran­son last week de­scribed the re­ported de­ci­sion by Ab­dulla Yameen, the Mal­di­vian pres­i­dent, to re­vive ex­e­cu­tions as ‘‘an aw­ful po­lit­i­cal move that will send the coun­try back to the Dark Ages of hu­man rights’’. In a blog post, the cre­ator of the Vir­gin brand threat­ened to re­move his hol­i­day busi­ness from the Mal­dives and urged other tour op­er­a­tors, gov­ern­ments and busi­nesses to fol­low suit if the ex­e­cu­tions went ahead.

Re­prieve, the anti-death penalty cam­paign group, has is­sued a plea for Kuoni and Thomas Cook, travel com­pa­nies who op­er­ate lux­ury hol­i­days in the Mal­dives, to fol­low Bran­son’s lead and urge Pres­i­dent Ab­dulla Yameen to halt the ex­e­cu­tions, be­lieved to be im­mi­nent.

In a let­ter to the firms, Re­prieve claimed that the sen­tenced men, Hus­sain Hu­maam Ahmed, Mo­hammed Nabeel and Ahmed Mur­rath, were con­victed for mur­der af­ter ‘‘se­ri­ously un­fair’’ tri­als.

Their deaths would be an ‘‘ir­repara­ble mis­car­riage of jus­tice’’ and would fol­low a pat­tern of hu­man rights fail­ings since Yameen came to power in 2013, they said.

Of 20 con­victs on death row, five were ju­ve­niles at the time of their ar­rest. Re­prieve be­lieves that lethal in­jec­tions have al­ready been found for the first three deaths, while a search is un­der way for an ex­pe­ri­enced ex­e­cu­tioner.

Maya Foa, Re­prieve di­rec­tor, said the ex­e­cu­tions were ‘‘a naked at­tempt by Yameen to sup­press dis­sent and tighten his grip on power’’, call­ing on him to ‘‘start the demo­cratic re­forms needed to bring sta­bil­ity back’’.

Kuoni said: ‘‘We do not con­done any abuse of hu­man rights and are nat­u­rally con­cerned when news of this na­ture is brought to our at­ten­tion. The peo­ple in the Mal­dives de­pend on a thriv­ing tourism in­dus­try for their liveli­hood and we be­lieve we bring pos­i­tive change by sup­port­ing them.’’

Thomas Cook said: ‘‘We be­lieve our in­flu­ence is best ex­erted through re­spon­si­ble tourism.’’

Tourists see very lit­tle of the po­lit­i­cal tur­moil or hu­man rights abuses that have gripped the coun­try in re­cent years. Last week the Bri­tish For­eign Of­fice up­dated its travel ad­vice, urg­ing tourists to avoid large gath­er­ings in the cap­i­tal, Male, which could turn vi­o­lent.

Ibrahim Hus­sain Shahib, the pres­i­dent’s in­ter­na­tional spokesman, said the gov­ern­ment was im­ple­ment­ing the law to pro­tect its peo­ple. ’’[They] have been charged and con­victed of mur­der in the first de­gree, their cases were tried at all stages of ap­peal... due process was fol­lowed at all stages,’’ said Shahib. - Tele­graph Group

Tourists are be­ing warned there is a dark side to the tourist par­adise that is the Mal­dives.

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