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Police on alert over renewed unrest at Maafushi Prison

Shahudha Mohamed
25 June 2019, MVT 10:36
Officers of Maldives Correctional Service participating in a ceremony in Maafushi Prison. PHOTO: NISHAN ALI/ MIHAARU
Shahudha Mohamed
25 June 2019, MVT 10:36

Maldives Police Service announced late Monday night that a back-up team was placed on standby, following the special operation conducted in Maafushi Prison by Maldives Correctional Service (MCS) on the same night.

However, the reason behind Correctional Service's sudden operation was not officially disclosed.

Police sent an SMS to local media outlets confirming that the operation was being conducted by MCS, adding that any information could be clarified from Correctional Services. However, media was unable to contact a spokesperson from MCS or Ministry of Home Affairs.

"Police are on standby", the SMS read.

Local media reports state that another situation arose in Maafushi Prison late Monday and Emergency Support Group (ESG) pepper sprayed inmates to control the conflict in two of the prison's units.

Moreover, officers are accused of assaulting the inmates with shields. Pictures depicting bruises on inmates' bodies resulting form the beatings are currently being circulated on social media.

The reason behind Monday night's violent upsurge is as yet unknown.

Home Ministry and MCS have yet to make any statements on the incident.

The situation in Maafushi Prison worsened last week when inmates attacked an officer for refusing to bring them an illegal item from another cell. In response, five inmates were taken out from two cells, handcuffed, forced to the ground and beaten with batons.

ESG's Commander was suspended over the issue.

However, prison officers lodged complaints stating that the government prioritises the rights and safety of inmates over the risks and injuries officers face.

Some officers state that this results in the inmates having more authority than the officers.

Following the initial unrest on Thursday, a special operation was conducted in Maafushi Prison last Saturday to inspect the jail for any illegal items.

Commissioner of Prisons Abdulla Munaz revealed that the inspection resulted in the confiscation of eight mobile phones, and a sharpened object improvised from metal rods which could potentially be utilised as a weapon.