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.