Amnesty International has joined opposition figures to call on the government to authorise medical leave from prison for Former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb.
Citing Adeeb’s legal team, the international human rights group said the “authorities have since 2016 ignored repeated requests for specialised medical treatment that is only available outside Maldives, even as his health has deteriorated.”
Adeeb has repeatedly sought permission to travel overseas for the treatment of glaucoma, kidney stones and internal cysts.
The Maldives Correctional Services say it is not presently responsible for Adeeb as he was transferred to a police custodial centre in March. But according to his lawyer Moosa Siraj, the police told Adeeb’s family that the MCS is responsible for arranging medical leave for convicts.
“Failing to provide adequate medical care to prisoners is a violation of Maldives’ international human rights obligations,” Amnesty noted.
“Rule 24 of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Nelson Mandela Rules) clarifies that the ‘provision of health care for prisoners is a State responsibility’ and that prisoners ‘should enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community’ and without discrimination.”
Former Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed, presently the UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, has since brought Adeeb’s case to the attention of Dr Danius Puras, the UN special rapporteur on the right to health.
Adeeb’s wife Maryam Nashwa spoke about his medical condition with the Maldives Independent last week.
“The most concerning thing right now is that he has been diagnosed with glaucoma which is a condition that can lead to permanent blindness,” she said.
“As far as we know, the treatment is not available in Maldives. Adeeb has a persisting kidney problem, he has had kidney stones removed once before. Doctors have also asked to test an internal cyst for cancer.”
The family is especially concerned about the cyst because a sibling had died after the discovery of a cancerous cyst.
“Adeeb’s brother died at 33 years after a cancerous cyst was diagnosed. The cyst was diagnosed at stage three and doctors have asked to do tests. It has been more than a year now,” Nashwa said.
Adeeb’s lawyer Moosa Shiraj previously alleged that MCS officials told him that Adeeb was denied treatment due to “orders from above”.
“We had a meeting with senior officials of MCS about the issue and they informed us that they were following orders from above. I don’t know what that means, but I know that they were very concerned about it as well,” Siraj told the Maldives Independent.
Adeeb’s family members were also present at the meeting, he added. But MCS spokesman Ahmed Lugman has since dismissed the allegation.
Siraj also accused the prisons authority of delaying treatment for Adeeb.
“In January last year, Adeeb consulted an eye doctor and was asked to do three tests. Corrections delayed until March this year,” he alleged.
“Even then only one of those tests were done. Glaucoma is something that can be prevented if diagnosed early, now Adeeb has to take treatment for it his whole life.”
MCS spokesman Lugman told the Maldives Independent that questions about Adeeb’s medical condition should be directed to the police.
Siraj contends that Adeeb is being held in police custody in contravention of the jails and parole law, which requires convicted prisoners to be held in a prison facility operated by the MCS.
Adeeb was transferred to the police detention centre on the island of Dhoonidhoo near Malé reportedly on the instruction of Home Minister Mohamed Azleen. A police spokeswoman confirmed Adeeb’s transfer to the Maldives Independent at the time but was unable to explain whether the prisons authority is authorised to transfer an inmate serving a jail sentence to police custody.
Siraj at the time denied media reports alleging that Adeeb was transferred to Dhoonidhoo after an attempt to escape from the high-security Maafushi prison.
Adeeb is serving a 33-year jail sentence on multiple counts of corruption and terrorism. In addition to a conviction over the theft of US$5 million from state coffers, he was also found guilty ofmasterminding a bomb attack on President Abdulla Yameen’s speedboat and of plotting to use a firearm during an opposition protest last year.
Former Presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Mohamed Nasheed as well as the opposition Jumhooree Party and Adhaalath Party have also raised concerns over Adeeb’s health.
Distressing reports of imprisoned former VP Ahmed Adeeb being denied request to seek medical treatment for his deteriorating health.
— Mohamed Nasheed (@MohamedNasheed) May 31, 2017
Understand former VP Adeeb is ill in prison. All prisoners, including Adeeb, must be given appropriate medical care by the state.
— Maumoon Abdul Gayoom (@maumoonagayoom) June 8, 2017