Head of state and government: Mohamed Nasheed (replaced Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in November)
Death penalty: abolitionist in practice
Population: 311,000
Life expectancy: 67 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 41/41 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 96.3 per cent

A new constitution, with positive legislative developments, was followed two months later by the election of the country's first new president for 30 years. Some administrative and justice issues remained unresolved at year's end, and a severe lack of adequate housing remained a problem.


In October, former prisoner of conscience Mohamed Nasheed was elected president in the country's first ever multi-party presidential elections; he took office in November. A coalition of political parties, led by his party the Maldivian Democratic Party, defeated another coalition led by the Dhivehi Rayyithunge (Maldivian Peoples) Party of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Legal and constitutional developments

A new constitution was ratified in August, which provided for greater independence of the judiciary, reduced executive powers vested in the president and strengthened the role of parliament. However, it barred non-Muslims from obtaining Maldivian citizenship.

To implement the new constitution, the first prosecutor-general was appointed in September. Five judges were also sworn in to the first Supreme Court, the final court of appeal, the same month. However, an acute shortage of qualified lawyers and judges made it hard to guarantee fair and prompt trials, thus hampering the full and adequate functioning of the criminal justice system.

Parliament enacted the Anti-Corruption Commission Act in September, but the commission was not fully functional by the end of the year.

President Nasheed pledged to uphold the rule of law, promote human rights, and strengthen the political and administrative process. Much of the new draft penal code, submitted to the Majlis (parliament) in 2007, remained to be adopted by the end of the year.

Housing rights

The Maldives Human Rights Commission reported in November that there was a severe lack of adequate housing amid continuing reports of significant overcrowding especially in the capital Malé. The Maldives remained at risk of rising global sea levels, and erosion continued to encroach on some islands.

Amnesty International reports

  • Maldives: New president must ensure continued protection of human rights (29 October 2008)

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