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Authorities under fire after custodial death

The opposition spokesman says the Maldives now has the highest per capita rate of custodial deaths in the world with 13 in the past two years.



The Maldives Correctional Service is under fire after the death of a Maafushi jail inmate.

A 30-year-old man who was serving 25-years for a drug conviction died at the high-security prison Friday night. Local media identified him as Ali Abdulla from the Galolhu Fehimaa house in the capital Malé.

Ahmed Lugman, spokesman for the Maldives Correctional Service, confirmed the death but refused to disclose the cause.

He declined to respond to allegations of negligence circulating on social media. A family member told VFP that he was suffering from high blood pressure and a congenital heart problem. 

Ali had called his mother on Thursday and asked for help in seeking a doctor’s consultation due to cramps. The family blames the MCS for failing to arrange medical care.

“A patient with blood pressure has been ill for many days and so many requests were made to see a doctor. He even called his mother [Thursday] and asked to see why he is not allowed to see a doctor. He apparently collapsed late last night [Friday] at 02:15 am. The family was informed at 04:30 am,” a former policewoman alleged.

MP Ahmed Mahloof, spokesman of the opposition coalition, said the Maldives now has the highest per capita rate of custodial deaths in the world with 13 in the past two years.

Yet in a few days Criminal Court will be sentencing me to jail regarding a tweet about medical negligence in jails. I repeat those accusations again, as it’s more evident now,” he tweeted.

Mahloof was charged with false reporting to law enforcement over a tweet alleging culpability by the prisons authority. He served a sentence of nearly five months at the Maafushi prison last year.

On Saturday, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party told the press that a shadow committee is preparing a research paper on recent custodial deaths.

The findings will inform prison policies in the party’s 2018 election manifesto, Malé City deputy mayor Shamau Shareef told reporters, urging the authorities to take medical complaints from inmates seriously.

“Another custodial death. Ali had called his mother yesterday complaining he’s being denied medical attention,” opposition MP Eva Abdulla alleged in a tweet.

“He died last night; report says ‘sudden death.’ No answers for all other custodial deaths over the last three years. No one held accountable, Human Rights Commission of the Maldives playing cover-up for the Govt.”

One social media user observed it was “just another day in Maldives, yet another death in custody and the tides bring in narcotics” whilst another tweet demanded “to know the names of all the inmates who died in custody in the last two years”.

Last month, the Human Rights Commission denied media reports of seeking charges over the custodial death of a Maafushi jail inmate whose family alleged he was denied treatment.

The watchdog launched its investigation on October 10, the same day 51-year-old Abdulla Rasheed died while undergoing treatment in Malé.

In January, a detainee in Maafushi prison, 33-year-old Ahmed Irushaad, died from a heart attack while serving a 25-year sentence on drug charges.

In August last year, another Maafushi inmate Ibrahim Asgar, 31, died of unknown causes while being treated at the island’s medical centre.

Mohamed Badeeu, 52, a diabetes patient, died in late July.