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Committee formed to oversee prison reform

An audit of jails flagged serious problems.



The home ministry on Monday formed a committee to oversee prison reforms recommended by an audit of jails in the Maldives.

Chaired by Home Minister Sheikh Imran Abdulla, the five-member ‘Prisons Reform Monitoring Committee’ includes State Minister for Home Affairs Ali Nazeer, Inspector of Correctional Service Ahmed Mohamed, Superintendent of Prisons Mohamed Asif and police spokeswoman Izmia Zahir.

The committee was formed after a presidential commission inspected 11 prisons across the country and submitted a 290-page report last month with 182 recommendations.

Conditions were “shameful” and inmates were deprived of basic human rights, the report stated.

The most common problems were overcrowding, unsanitary living conditions, the high number of people in remand or pre-trial detention, lack of opportunities to exercise, lack of policies to separate non-violent offenders from inmates convicted of serious crimes, and failure to meet World Health Organisation standards in providing food and water.

“There is not a single prison in Maldives that does not violate the Mandela Rules, making it a challenge to ensure the rights of inmates,” the report concluded.

It also included complaints from frustrated inmates over the lack of improvements despite inspections by the Human Rights Commission of Maldives, which was accused of ignoring alleged cases of mistreatment and reports about a guard who is accused of using methods of torture.

Last week, the human rights watchdog slammed the “irresponsible” report and accused the presidential commission of disregarding information provided for the audit.

The report included “factually incorrect information” and repeated recommendations previously made by the watchdog, the HRCM said in a statement.

The audit report also accused the Maldives Correctional Service of attempting to sabotage its review.

“During our visit to Maafushi jail the prison officers confiscated papers from inmates which they were about to give us. Furthermore Maldives Correctional Service refused to provide us certain information and possibly attempted to mislead us through wrongful information,” the report said.