Jails and parole bill sent to committee

Parliament today voted to proceed with a bill submitted by the government on jails and parole.

The bill was sent to the home affairs committee with unanimous consent of all MPs in attendance.

Presenting the legislation to the floor on Monday, Mahibadhoo MP Ruggiya Mohamed of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said that a law governing prisons and the care of prisoners was essential to improve the condition of jails in the country.

The bill specifies rules for the management of jails and procedures for incarceration, rehabilitation and parole as well as rights and benefits due to inmates.

During the debate over the past two sittings, MPs expressed concern that convicts were loose in society due to the failure to enforce sentences.

Several MPs highlighted the need to segregate inmates based on the severity of their crimes and stop the inflow of illegal drugs.

In September 2003, the custodial death of 19-year-old Evan Naseem and the subsequent inmate uprising that resulted in the death of three inmates sparked unprecedented civil unrest in the capital Male’, widely believed to have been the catalyst for for democratic reform.

More recently, violent confrontations between the inmate population and the stand-by Emergency Support Group (ESG) led to riots in October 2009 and April 2010, resulting in costly damages to the country’s main jail.

While inmates petitioned President Mohamed Nasheed over deteriorating conditions in Maafushi jail in July 2009, allegations of torture and abuse surfaced after each of the riots were suppressed by force.