A detention Centre for illegal expatriates in custody until deportation was unveiled in reclaimed suburb Hulhumale on Wednesday.
Speaking at the inauguration reception, Minister of Home Affairs Imran Abdulla noted the high number of undocumented immigrants living in Maldives. He stated that it is the administration’s target to mitigate the crises in a way that the rights of foreigners are protected.
“We will be taking necessary measures and actions, and conducting our efforts in a way that is in accordance with international regulations, Maldives’ constitution and human rights”, said Minister Imran.
Prior to the unveiling of the detention centre, illegal expatriates were being detained in the same facility as inmates.
According to the Minister, the new detention centre will preserve the human dignity of the detainees. He added that this would be the first step taken to reform Maldives’ existing jails and expressed his hopes that Maldives Correctional Service will extend full support in reformation efforts.
The new centre holds a full occupancy of 40 people, with 20 beds in the two vast rooms constructed in the layout.
Ministry of Home Affairs concluded decision to construct three additional units of the same size within the upcoming six months.
Superintendent of Prisons Mohamed Asif revealed that one of the units will be allocated for female immigrants living in Maldives illegally.
With the completion of the four blocks of the centre, it would be able to hold a full occupancy of 160 detainees at a time.
Asif noted that the new administration came into governance acknowledging that the public's distaste for correctional services, with pledges to address the issue. He further revealed that work has started to organise prisons in accordance with this administration’s policies.
“With the changes brought in today, like separating detention centre to jail, it is a start to detain people in accordance with conduct stated within the constitution”, said Asif.
He elaborated that the practice of detaining illegal expats in huge halls on woven mats, has become history with the launch of the new centre.
Moreover, he stated that detention centre staff will protect the immigrants, and provide them with any health services required.
Normal procedure of repatriation in Maldives is that illegal expatriates would be detained for a period of 15 days before deportation. However, in some cases the period of detention is extended due to inability to deport.