Head of state and government: Mohamed Nasheed
Death penalty: abolitionist in practice
Population: 0.3 million
Life expectancy: 76.8 years
Under-5 mortality: 12.7 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 98.4 per cent

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.

Cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments

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.

Freedom of religion or belief

Calls for religious freedom and tolerance were swiftly quashed by influential Islamist groups and other opposition politicians.

  • On 14 December, police detained prisoner of conscience Ismail "Khilath" Rasheed, a Sufi, for taking part in a peaceful demonstration in the capital, Malé, calling for religious tolerance. During the protest, which was held on 10 December, he and fellow activists were attacked by a group of around 10 men. Ismail Rasheed sustained a skull fracture as a result. He was detained on grounds that his calls for religious tolerance were unconstitutional. According to a constitutional provision, all Maldivians must be Muslim. The authorities made no attempt to arrest or charge his attackers.

Justice system

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.

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