Amnesty International on Tuesday condemned the “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” of a Sri Lankan detained in the Maldives, saying he has been beaten and tortured.
The rights group says the prisoner, who was charged almost three years ago for “knowingly taking part in a conspiracy to murder” President Abdulla Yameen, has also been denied a fair trial.
Lahiru Madhushanka has suffered “vicious” police beatings, prolonged solitary confinement and beatings with cables that caused him to temporarily lose hearing in one ear, Amnesty said in its report.
“From the moment he was arrested, to his interrogation, to his imprisonment and his trial, his family and lawyer say he has been subject to a catalogue of serious human rights violations, including torture, that need to be independently investigated,” according to a press statement.
Dinushika Dissanayake, Amnesty’s South Asia research director, said the case raised “alarming questions” about the Maldivian justice system and how the authorities treated detainees.
“It is also a test for the Sri Lankan government, which has only provided limited consular services and failed to adequately respond to the desperate appeals of Madhushanka’s family and ensure a fair trial and humane detention conditions for him.”
Madhushanka was arrested in October 2015 on a different charge, with the assassination allegation and charge following months later. His remand hearings and interrogations were in Dhivehi, which he does not speak, and he was not given legal aid.
In July, Amnesty accused prison authorities of breaking the law and expressed concern over his possible loss of eyesight. Authorities were also accused of coercing him into following Islamic practices and barring him from following his Buddhist faith.
Madhushanka was in the Maldives for a job as a driver that fell through, the rights group said. The job had been arranged by another Sri Lankan, who was in contact with a group close to ex-vice president Ahmed Adeeb who was convicted of plotting to assassinate Yameen.
“No human being should be treated in this way,” said Dissanayake of Madhushanka. “All the more reason why a thorough investigation should promptly be launched by the Maldivian authorities.”
She said the “new president of the Maldives, who will be sworn in next month, must ensure that all prisoners are treated humanely and tried in courts where justice is worthy of its name.”
The Maldives Independent contacted police and prison authorities for comment on the Amnesty report, but there was no response at the time of going to press.
Image from Amnesty International report, Prisoner in Paradise