Tuesday, March 17, 2009

An Office for the Prosecutor General

After wandering in the wilderness for six months, Prosecutor General’s Office has finally got its promised office building. But don’t expect miracles. The criminal justice system in the Maldives is a zero sum game. If the load on one entity of the system reduces by a number ‘x’, there will be concurrent increases in the loads on other entities, the sum of which will equal ‘x’.

Here is how this works. There is a pool of criminals in the Maldives, roughly estimated at about 14,000. Of these only a thousand are in the jail or the rehabilitation center. The remaining 13,000 are unequally distributed among the community (undetected), police (under investigation), Prosecutor General’s Office, the courts (under trial) and banishment.

If the police detect more criminals the number in the community will decrease but the number under investigation will increase by the same number. If the police complete more investigations, the number at the PG Office will increase. If PG Office prosecutes more cases the number in the courts will increase. If the courts sentence more people the number in the jail will increase.

The truth is that none of the institutions in the criminal justice system has sufficient resources to handle the estimated 14,000 criminals in the country. So what can be done?

1. Build more jails? This is not a financially viable solution. Maintaining enough jails to imprison all criminals would cost more than the entire national income.
2. Islamic Justice? This means capital punishment. There are many who call for this. But when it comes to executing one’s own sons and near ones they will sing a different tune.
3. Revise penal code? This could reduce the load on the system by reducing the number of categories needing jailing (others can go for community sentences and probation) and reducing the length of jail terms.
4. Revising Drug Law? Sending first time offenders for detoxification instead of jail could reduce the load on jails.
5. Enforcing discipline at the school level? This would require overhauling of the law on the rights of children.


Anonymous said...

Dr Waheed,

I thoroughly enjoy reading (most of) your articles and they are by and large very intellectually stimulating. However, I wonder how appropriate it is for you as Deputy Home Minister and Chairman of the Parole Board to public view your opinions here.

'Rayyith Ahmed'

Anonymous said...

At a critical point in the last 30 years no one ever gave a serious thought on controlling the drug menace, intilling more nationalism and family values into children.Religion was something that was there for the name sake and those responsible for giving proper religious education was caught napping and when every one ( including polititians , parents, religious scholars and the country as a whole) woke up it was too late.The country has slowly fallen into the doldrums and now the question is can we ever come out of it ?

Shiham said...

Isn't it time for a paradigm shift! Instead of asking, how we can strenthen the laws or severing the punishment, its time to ask, why people steal, why people resort to drugs, why they commit petty crimes. Isn't it time, we dig deep in to the root cause of the problems and solving it, INSTEAD of trying to DEAL with the problem or issue.

Our current attitude is those perpetrators were born violent or criminals and what law can make them behave properly. and then we talk about things like, implementing Sharia law, building more Jails etc, while the quetion that begs to be asked is, why are the criminal commiting the crimes they committ? why one steal, rob, mug etc. Is it poverty and lack of access to basic necessity, social stratification, class, elitsm (ruling). lack of proper education? social values that is based on religious myths and folk stories.

We need to think about it today! this is what we need to invest on! Once you eradicate these from our society, and improve the social well being, then we can rehab the current criminal and bring them back to society.

Abdullah Waheed's Blog said...

To Rayyith Ahmed,
Thanks for the advice. I also try to avoid topics related to my office, but sometimes I get carried away. I'll be more careful in future. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

The only viable option is Islamic Justice. The reason is simple. God knew us even before he created us. His creation is perfect and we see it all around us. So, should we doubt his justice and choose something else thinking we are right and he could be wrong?

Anonymous said...

Shiham said...
Respectfully disagree with the last comment and infact i consider it utter rubbish!
Religion or GOD does not offer us a solution even though He knew us. He gave us the choice (if at all). I would praise if any religion comes up with a theory to eliminate the poverty, social wealfare, the wealth gap or even the wealth itself and PROVIDE a solution that is ONLY achievable by creating a system that can provide humans equally the resources of this earth without a price tag to each and every human.
"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed." –Gandhi

I will not persue the subject here, but in a nutshell the problem in today's life/society is "we are trying to deal with the problems and not finding the root causes and evolving or reforming and eliminate the causes". So what we need is not a a Sharia, not a new code of Law, but a new code of social value. what we value in our life.

Hassan Saeed said...

well, i feel after reading this that the the author has given an alternative to our criminals. We should not give them any chance to do such things. If somebody kills ur own son for no reason, wud u still say that or forgive him instead of punishing him for wat he did. We should not concern abt the family of relative for those who do such things, rather give them the toughest punishment. It will be an example for other criminals.