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Watchdog seeks charges over custodial death

The Human Rights Commission has concluded investigations of 45 cases involving unsolved murders and disappearances.



The Human Rights Commission of Maldives has decided to seek criminal charges over negligence in the death of an inmate at the Maafushi prison.

Investigations were launched after the family of Abdulla Rasheed alleged he was denied medical treatment. The 51-year-old had been serving a a five-year sentence on assault charges raised over the beating of a policeman during the 2015 May Day protest.

HRCM spokeswoman Fazla Ahmed declined to say how many people could be facing charges or whether they were prison guards.

In recent years, the watchdog has faced criticism over the failure to take action over human rights abuses and curtailment of democratic rights during former president Abdulla Yameen’s administration.

The commission’s five members were appointed by the former president and approved by the then-ruling party’s majority in parliament.  

On Tuesday, the HRCM published a summary of deaths and disappearances investigated between 2007 and 2018. But statistics were released without any information about measures taken in relation to the cases.

The HRCM spokeswoman told the Maldives Independent that details on specific cases could not be revealed because it was “third party information.”

According to the statistics, a total of 45 cases were investigated and eight cases were ongoing.

These included one case involving state negligence in the death of a child, five cases of disappearances, 28 cases of custodial deaths, 17 cases of people who died as a result of alleged negligence from hospitals, and two cases of alleged police negligence in the investigation of fatal stabbings.

The HRCM said it advised a state institution regarding one case and made recommendations after the investigation of eight cases with regular follow ups to monitor progress.

In 23 cases, the commission decided there was no negligence. Action was taken in seven cases where negligence was found.

The commission also asked the Prosecutor General’s office to press charges in two other cases of negligence by the authorities.

In two cases of disappearances, the HRCM concluded there was not enough evidence to seek charges over negligence in investigations. Adequate efforts were made by the authorities to find the missing persons, it decided.