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Maldives Criminal Justice Project

The Republic of the Maldives is a small nation in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Made up of over 1,200 islands, the Maldives is home to approximately 300,000 people, with an additional 600,000 visitors each year. The country is officially Muslim, and the legal system has long been based on Islamic law.

Recently, pressure from political opposition groups and the international community has demanded political and legal reforms from the government. A sweeping reform agenda has been announced by President Gayoom, including efforts to reform and modernize the criminal justice system. The reform project, spearheaded by Attorney General Dr. Hassan Saeed and supported by the United Nations Development Programme, includes a comprehensive penal code, sentencing guidelines, rules of criminal procedure, and prosecutorial guidelines.

Maldivian Penal Code Project

The Maldivian government placed a new penal code at the forefront of its priorities in their criminal justice reform effort. The proposed code developed by the CLRG is a modern and comprehensive penal code incorporating numerous cutting-edge innovations in drafting forms, code structure, and criminal law doctrine. It is also the first and only such code incorporating the major tenets and principles of Islamic law as currently practiced in the Maldives.

Final Report of the Maldivian Penal Law & Sentencing Codification Project: Text of Draft Code (Volume 1) and Official Commentary (Volume 2)

Unofficial Translation of What UNDP Reports to Be the New Maldivian Penal Code

Penal code drafted by Prof. Paul Robinson and students is enacted in the Maldives

Sentencing Guidelines

In tandem with the proposed new penal code, the CLRG developed a revolutionary new sentencing guidelines system for the Maldives. The first of its kind, the proposed Maldivian sentencing guidelines will be seamlessly integrated into the penal code. The influence of Islamic law is also evident in the sentencing guidelines.

Rules of Criminal Procedure

As a corollary to the penal code and sentencing guidelines, the CLRG is working to create a collection of rules of criminal procedure. These rules will govern the operation of the penal code and sentencing guidelines once they are put into operation. The focus of this rules-drafting project is the development of a system that will insure fairness of process and fidelity to the intent of the penal code.

Prosecution Guidelines

Guidelines governing the exercise of prosecutorial discretion are also under construction for promulgation by the Attorney General. The guidelines will serve as a manual for Maldivian prosecutors throughout the prosecution process from arrest and arraignment through sentencing, an important tool considering the sweeping changes being planned to the criminal justice system of the Maldives.


Client Link: Government of the Maldives