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Maldives’ “Alcatraz” cell in Dhoonidhoo shuts down

Shahudha Mohamed
27 November 2019, MVT 12:48
Minister of Home Affairs Imran Abdulla inaugurates the demolition work at Dhoonidhoo Prison. PHOTO: HOME MINISTRY
Shahudha Mohamed
27 November 2019, MVT 12:48

Ministry of Home Affairs on Tuesday shut down and commenced the demolition of various cells in Dhoonidhoo Prison, including the infamous "Alcatraz" compartment formerly rumoured to be a torture cell.

Home Minister Imran Abdulla inaugurated the ceremony held to mark the dismantling of selected prison cells.

Minister of home affairs Imran Abdullah pictured at the ceremony held to inaugurate demolition work at Dhoonidhoo prison. PHOTO: HOME MINISTRY

According to the minister, the cells were being demolished to clear land for the establishment of a better-quality prison on the island.

The 290-page report prepared by the Prison Audit Commission last April, detailed the changes necessary for prison reform and listed over 180 suggestions on improvement. The report declared some cells unfit for detaining prisoners, including the cells being demolished in Dhoonidhoo.

The cell in Dhoonidhoo is named after Alcatraz Island where the maximum-security United States Penitentiary was established. In former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's administration, Dhoonidhoo's Alcatraz cells were notoriously known as a place where detainees were allegedly tortured.

The United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Nils Melzer recently stressed that there were various issues with Maldivian prisons and detention facilities.

At a press conference held after visiting jails, detention facilities and state-run orphanages from November 17 to 24, Melzer noted the lack of space and overcrowding in prisons and detention facilities.

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