Ex-president’s brother sues prisons authority over visitation rights

Ex-president’s brother sues prisons authority over visitation rights
September 29 17:22 2015

Ahmed Nazim Abdul Sattar, younger brother of jailed former President Mohamed Nasheed, has sued the prisons authority for refusing to grant visitation rights to siblings.

Nazim filed the case at the civil court today contending that the Maldives Correctional Services (MCS) had arbitrarily reversed its previous decision to allow the former president’s siblings to visit him once a week at the Maafushi prison.

“Suddenly in September, MCS said we cannot meet our brother,” Nazim told The Maldives Independent. The MCS does not have regulations on visitation rights, he added.

“Even if they have one, only a 2004 regulation has been made publicly available. That should be invalid now given the enactment of the 2008 constitution,” he said.

Nazim asked the civil court to rule that the MCS’s decision not to allow siblings to visit Nasheed was in violation of the Prisons and Parole Act.

According to article 62 of the 2013 law, visitation rights to families of detained individuals is a basic right and an obligatory service that the prisons authority must provide. Article 85 stipulates that a regulation must be put in place to govern visitation procedures.

Nasheed was convicted of terrorism charges in March over the arrest of criminal court chief judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012. The opposition leader was taken back to jail on August 23 after two months under house arrest, during which the main opposition party engaged in negotiations with the government to secure his release.

Moosa Rameez, MCS spokesperson, told The Maldives Independent in early September that rules compiled for the special protection unit where Nasheed is held restrict visiting rights to immediate family. The rules apply only to parents, spouses and children.

The rules were established when Nasheed was transferred in March from a remand centre to the main prison on Maafushi island, he said.

While convicts are allowed one family visit per month, individuals in the special protection units – including two former defence ministers – are allowed one family visit every week, he said.

Nasheed’s office had said at the time that the new rule was “an arbitrary change that was introduced only a week after visitation was restricted to his parents, spouse and children.”

The former president’s office condemned the “arbitrary and politically motivated decision” and called upon the government to “cease their vindictive intimidation of President Nasheed.”