Rights groups alarmed over planned executions in Maldives

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Human rights groups expressed concern Thursday over the Maldives government's purported plan to carry out its first execution in 60 years.

Seven groups, including Amnesty International, Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network and Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, said in an open letter to President Yameen Abdul Gayoom that they have seen credible reports that the convictions have been secured through forced confessions and other due process violations.

They say all three prisoners currently on death row did not receive fair trials.

Gayoom said earlier this week that the country will execute the first of the three convicts next month. No other details were given.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has asked the Maldivian government to stay the executions pending appeals, adding that the country has undertaken to corporate with the committee, the groups said.

"Should your government go ahead with the executions, it would violate Maldives' obligations under international law, including toprotect the three men's right to life," the letter said.

Maldivian authorities have from time to time vowed to carry out the death penalty for the past three years, even discussing methods like administering lethal injections and hanging. But they have postponed them amid international concerns.

"The execution of prisoners who have not received fair trials risks a grave and irreversible miscarriage of justice. The death penalty will do nothing to make the Maldives safer," the groups said.

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