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Judicial CP - June 2008

Corpun file 20256

Minivan News, Malé, 1 June 2008

Lashings Punishment Resumes

By Judith Evans in Malé

Offenders convicted of crimes such as adultery and alcohol possession are once again being punished by lashings in Maldives, after a gap of over a year due to the death of the man who had administered the punishment.

Justice minister Mohamed Muiz Adnan said the punishment had "never been suspended", but just paused because "we had to get a new person" to carry it out.

Justice Minister Mohamed Muiz Adnan Offenders convicted during the break would now be punished, he added. Lashes are often accompanied by a banishment sentence.

According to state attorney Hussein Shameem, the corporal punishment is not aimed to cause pain, but is "mainly about the humiliation".

The punishment resumed on 15 May, when five convicts were lashed outside Malé's Criminal Court, in front of a crowd that "packed the street", according to an eyewitness.

Two women were lashed 100 times each for adultery, whilst one man was lashed 40 times for alcohol offences. Another two men were also lashed.

The eyewitness said: "One of the women was crying, and she put her hands over her face. But the judge said to move her hands away."

Adnan said there was "no risk of people getting injured" by the punishment, because "there are rules and procedures to be followed. And if a person is sick, their sentence is postponed."

New sentencing regulations for sex offenders, introduced in February, specify the lashings sentence is intended to be "symbolic".

Despite repeated requests from Minivan News, the justice ministry could not provide statistics to indicate how many are being punished in this way.

Lashings are carried out under Islamic Shari'ah law, which in the Maldives is mainly applied in family cases.

But Shari'ah is interpreted less severely in Maldives than in some Islamic countries, with hand amputation not practised, and capital punishment -- though theoretically allowed -- not implemented.

Religious scholar Sheikh Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari, a member of the Adhaalath party scholars' council, recently called for the introduction of such punishments, saying: "There would be peace if the country was practising Islamic Shari'ah."

© 2006 MinivanNews

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