An annex at the Malé prison used to detain elderly and sick inmates was shut down this week for repairs to meet international standards.
Commissioner of Prisons Abdulla Munaz reportedly declared the cells “unfit for humans” after an inspection visit.
Inmates inside the “iron cages” were forced to endure hot temperatures due to the lack of ventilation, which also caused skin diseases, according to the Maldives Correctional Service.
The closure of the annex comes after a commission formed by the president to audit jails presented a 390-page report with 182 recommendations to Home Affairs Minister Sheikh Imran Abdulla on Sunday.
It was compiled based on research of laws, regulations, international treaties as well as field visits and interviews with families of inmates, police officers and prison guards, commission member Ibrahim Mohamed Fulhu told the press.
Most recommendations were made with regard to health and medical services, he noted.
Corruption and torture were also flagged as serious issues.
Mohamed Fulhu said expatriates detained at a Hulhumalé facility faced discrimination and deprivation of basic rights.
The commission also recommended a review of “unfair” parole and clemency rules.
“The biggest problem faced by jails is having to hold inmates in excess of its capacity. This leads to problems in accessing medical services, and other rights and services,” said Mohamed Fulhu, who is also a director at the Human Rights Commission.
Watchdog bodies and institutions in charge of maintaining the standard of jails have failed, he added.
Speaking to the press after receiving the report, Home Minister Imran vowed to implement reforms.
“We will not let this report be another book added to the bookshelf. We will look at the issues outlined in it and make this the basis of reforming jails,” he said.
The home ministry’s spokesman Hafsee Abdulla told the Maldives Independent that the minister has “guaranteed” the report will be made public at a future date.