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Parliament committee to investigate unrest in Maafushi Prison

Shahudha Mohamed
23 June 2019, MVT 19:51
Members of Human Rights and Gender parliament committee. PHOTO: NISHAN ALI/ MIHAARU
Shahudha Mohamed
23 June 2019, MVT 19:51

Parliament Committee on Human Rights and Gender, on Saturday, decided to investigate the unrest which occurred in Maafushi Prison on Thursday.

The committee's Vice Chair and Vaikaradhoo MP Hussain Ziyad told local media Mihaaru that the committee would collect reports and documents regarding the incident from relevant authorities.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)'s MP elaborated that Maldives Correctional Services (MCS), Ministry of Home Affairs and Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) would compile reports on the incident.

"The committee has decided to summon and hold the responsible parties accountable after examining the reports", Ziyad said.

Maafannu North MP Imthiyaz Fahmy emphasised the seriousness of inmates being injured during the Maafushi Prison incident. He further asserted that the issues outlined in the prison audit report must be addressed promptly.

He expressed concern that prisoners were subjected to maltreatment while under state custody, Imthiyaz stated that the current government's aim was to abolish injustice.

Additionally, Holhudhoo constituency's MDP member Yoonus Ali stated that Correctional Services used disproportionate force to contain the situation in Maafushi Prison. Therefore, he declared that necessary measures must be taken after a thorough investigation.

Unrest reportedly broke out after some inmates requested the officer on duty to bring them an item from another cell. The inmates assaulted the officer with a metal rod when he refused to grant the request.

In response, five inmates were taken out from two cells, handcuffed, forced to the ground, pepper sprayed and beaten with batons.

MCS has denied the occurrence of such inhumane actions.

However, the Home Ministry asserted that MSC used an excessive and disproportionate level of force to control the situation in Maafushi Prison.

The ministry further guaranteed to amend prison regulations to ensure that disproportionate force could not be used against inmates.

Moreover, the statement ensured that the officers behind the inhumane acts would be punished upon the conclusion of the investigation.

Reports by the Jail Audit Commission formed by the current government clearly state that inmates in Maldivian prisons are subjected to inhumane treatment. Despite a monthly government expenditure of MVR 15,000 per inmate, the report asserts that prisons are not suitable for human habitation.

The commission advised the government to amend regulations concerning inmate treatment and reform prison operations as swiftly as possible. The home ministry previously established a special committee for this purpose.