Drug abuse is considered the root of several societal ills, and yet, more and more criminals are being allowed to roam free in our country. The government’s leniency when it comes to dealing with such cases is alarming, to say the least.
Recently, public outrage was sparked by news of a convicted drug smuggler released after serving only 3 years of his 25-year sentence. Abdulla Sofwath, who was convicted of smuggling 24 kilograms of drugs, was released lawfully based on ‘good behaviour’, according to a government official.
The drugs in question, which had a reported street value of MVR 100 million, was confiscated back in 2014 after a lengthy maritime operation by Maldives Police Service. On 27th March 2017, Sofwath was sentenced to his prison term. He was reportedly released on the 29th of July 2020.
The state official justified Sofwath’s release, stating that it had been entirely lawful as per the power vested in the President under the 29th Amendment of the Maldivian Constitution.
Additionally, he noted that Sofwath’s behavior had greatly improved during the 3 years at the correctional facility, even acting as the establishment’s Imam. The official said that the President pardoned Sofwath after referring to a report by the Director of Corrections, which stated that MCS management believed Sofwath was completely rehabilitated and posed no threat to the community,
From 25 years to only 3 years in prison, for one of the Maldives’ most significant drug busts at the time. To put this into context, Sofwath has only spent 12% of his full sentence behind bars. The remaining 88% he roams in society as a free man.
Can this really be justified on the basis of ‘good behavior’?