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The Maldives first adopted dedicated counterterrorism legislation in 1990, but this law has since been repealed and replaced and amended several times. The existing definition of a terrorist act is very broad, with the maximum penalty for offences set at twenty-five years in prison. 

Compliance with International Law:
Last updated: one year ago

The Definition of Terrorism in Domestic Law

The Prevention of Terrorism Act was until 2015 the primary legislation for preventing and prosecuting terrorism. The original 1990 text defined terrorist act in very broad terms as follows:

(a) The act of killing or causing any bodily harm or intent to carry out such actions to person(s) with the intention of creating fear or terror or with a political motive.

(b) The act or the intention of kidnapping or abduction of person(s) or of taking hostage(s).

(c) The act or the intention of hijacking of any vessel or vehicle.

d) The unauthorized import of any explosive substance, ammunition or fire arms into the country, the production of such substance or equipment, the use, storage, sale or interchange of such substance or equipment in the Maldives.

(e) The use or intent of use of any explosive substance, ammunition or fire arms or any form of weaponry so as to cause harm or damage to person(s) or property.

(f) The act of or intent of arson, so as to cause harm or damage to person(s) or property.

(g) The use of terror tactics, force or making threats to cause harm or damage to person(s) or property orally or in writing or other means to create fear amongst the community.

The 2015 Law replaced the 1990 Act. It criminalizes flying overseas to fight in foreign conflicts. Inciting violence at demonstrations and threatening the country’s independence and sovereignty are also considered acts of terrorism. Other terrorism offences include kidnapping, abduction, hijacking, endangering public health or safety, and damaging important infrastructure. Committing any of the offences for the purpose of creating terror among the public or promoting a political or religious ideology are designated a terrorist offence.

In September 2019, an amendment to the Act categorized political and religious extremism and radicalization as terrorist acts along with the promotion of radical ideology or participation in extremist activity.

Adherence to Global and Regional Terrorism Treaties


The Maldives is a State Party to the main United Nations treaties on terrorism.


Adherence to Global Terrorism Treaties
Treaty Adherence
1973 Convention on Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons State Party
1979 Hostage-Taking Convention State not party
1997 Terrorist Bombings Convention State Party
1999 Terrorist Financing Convention State Party
2005 Nuclear Terrorism Convention State not party


The Maldives is also a State Party to the main regional treaty on terrorism.


Adherence to Regional Terrorism Treaties
Treaty Adherence
1999 OIC Convention on Combating International Terrorism State Party

Laws and Penalties for Terrorist Offences

The maximum penalty for terrorist offences in the Maldives is twenty-five years in prison. The death penalty remains on the statute books for certain criminal offences but it is not applied in practice and a moratorium remains in place.

Encouraging terrorism carries a ten to fifteen years jail sentence, defined as “a speech or statement perceived by the public as encouragement of terrorism.” Circulating messages or statements of a terrorist organisation is also a crime with a prison sentence of seven to ten years.

Counterterrorism Capacities and Policies at Domestic Level

The 2017 amended antiterrorism law required the establishment of a rehabilitation and reintegration center for returning Maldivian foreign terrorist fighters, including a separate space for women and children deemed victims who did not commit acts of terrorism. The law also creates a new counterterrorism risk assessment committee to assess whether repatriated individuals engaged in acts of terrorism or might be likely to do so in the future. 

In February 2020, a Maldivian radical group affiliated with Islamic State conducted an attack. A major Islamic State "inspired" terrorist attack took place on 6 May 2021, when former President and current Parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed was seriously injured in an improvised explosive device blast outside his home in Male. 

The Constitution of the Maldives allows the President to declare a state of emergency when a threat to national security exists. This is specifically stated to encompass terrorism.


Maldives 1990 Prevention of Terrorism Act (English version)

2015 Prevention of Terrorism Act (original version)

Maldives 2019 Anti-Terrorist Act (original text)

Maldives 2014 Terrorist Financing Act

Maldives State Policy on Terrorism (English translation)

UNODC Final Evaluation Report Support to Maldives on Counterterrorism

Constitution of the Maldives