Former head warden Isthafa denies torture allegations, as police appeal for victims to come forward

Former chief prison warden ‘Isthafa’ Ibrahim Mohamed Manik has issued a statement to the media denying torture allegations made against him by police, after the High Court overruled a court warrant extending his detention.

In the statement, Isthafa said he welcomed police efforts to investigate allegations of mistreatment inside the prison, but said the public had been misled that he had confessed to condoning torture and inhumane activities in the prison.

‘’I regret that police arrested me unlawfully against the constitution and against the laws’’ said Isthafa in the statement. “The High Court’s ruling clarifies that I was arrested unlawfully.’’

Isthafa said that while the state was investigating torture activities conducted in the prisons over a long period of time, “I was in charge of the prison for eight years.’’

“I have never ordered the torture of anyone or acted against the law, and neither did my superiors ever order me to do so,’’ he added.

Police arrested Isthafa over the weekend and took him to the prison island of Maafushi, where the island’s court granted police an extension of detention for 15 days. This was yesterday overruled by the High Court, which determined that the arrest was unlawful and that there were no probable grounds to extend his pre-trial detention period.

Today Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) activists gathered near the President’s Office, the Justice Building and other areas of Male’ calling for the arrest of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, demanding justice for the prison torture they alleged he condoned.

The activists were holding posters and carrying a coffin, claiming that many inmates had passed away as a consequence of inhumane activities and torturous activities they were subjected to.

Meanwhile the Criminal Court last night issued a warrant on Isthafa, banning him from leaving the country for a month.

The torture investigation committee formed by Presidential decree to investigate torture allegations against former government, led by former Defence Minister Ameen Faisal, has meanwhile established an office inside Velaanage’ to obtain information concerning prison torture carried out during both the current and former administrations.

Police in a press statement appealed for the public to report any information they had to the office on the 12th floor of  Velaanage, or to phone +960 333 0584 or +960 333 0585. Outside Male, complaints can be submitted to police posts on the islands.

Police are currently investigating allegations of torture inside prisons under the former administration, claiming that planned, systematic and long-term torture of prisoners had taken place in Maldivian prisons, while records of inmates were incomplete or non-existent.

Allegations of prisoner mistreatment have continued to come from the prisons even after the current administration took power in 2008, and both the government and the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) previously expressing concern over a “culture of torture” than continued to pervade many institutions.

On October 14, 2010, Police arrested a 19 year-old man while he was sitting near his house,  who later alleged that ‘’the whole duty shift’’ beat him using batons and shoes, before he was taken to solitary confinement  where he alleged he was kept in a cross position until his release the next day – without being brought in front of a judge.

On July 21, 2010, a 19 year-old man was arrested in a joint police and Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) special operation to curb crime alleged officers pushed him into a police bus and blindfolded him with his hands tied with clips.

“They took me to a place and removed my silver ear-rings, my bracelets, necklace and sunglasses,” he claimed. “Then they took me to another place and removed the blindfold, and ordered me to remove my clothes. I refused, but I had no other choice so I did, and they told me to bend over. They harassed me verbally and physically.”

A 14 year-old boy arrested the same day near Giyasudeen School claimed that police treated him the same.

“They took me into a small room and removed the blindfold, and took up a trimmer. I asked them why they had to cut my hair, and they said they were getting me into the religion of Islam. I refused them permission to cut my hair, and I looked at the ground I saw blood all over the floor,” he said. “They started beating me when I refused.”

Another 16 year-old boy who was arrested near Ahmadiyya School said the officers blindfolded and handcuffed him, “and told me to sit down,” he said. “I checked with my hands to make sure there was a chair, and when I touched the chair when I turned to sit down they pulled the chair away. Again they hurt my wound and I told them that it hurt.”

He said the officers asked him to show them his wound, and when he removed his shirt they started hitting the wound and asking whether it hurt.

All were released without charge.

One January 24, 2011, a 17 year-old boy was arrested on Boduthakurufaanu Magu before being driven in a police vehicle to a dark spot near Male’s artificial beach, where he was violently beaten by officers with batons.

The 17 year-old said the squad, consisting of “around 22″ police officers beat him simultaneously with their batons.

On December 29, 2010, inside Maafushi prison, inmates and prison officers clashed with one inmate suffering a broken shoulder, another inmate breaking his nose and third suffering injuries to his eyes because prison officers hit and broke the glasses he was wearing, alleged a person familiar with the case.

The clash allegedly occurred after prison officers did not appear when called to respond to the critical health condition of another inmate.

On April 20, 2010, at least 15 inmates were badly injured in a prison riot in Maafushi Prison.

Most of the cases were reported to the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) but by far no trial or transparent investigation was conducted into these cases.

Cases of previous custodial torture can be reported to the government’s investigation committee on the 12th floor of  Velaanage, or by phone on +960 333 0584 or +960 333 0585.


23 thoughts on “Former head warden Isthafa denies torture allegations, as police appeal for victims to come forward”

  1. Mr Anni, what about all the gang violence and murders which are actively happeneing at present under your leadership now? I don't see police set up an office in Velanage to investigate these violence, calling public to give evidences etc. Are you planing to do something bad while covering up the present violence carried out by all your MDP thugs?

  2. September 2003 Evan Naseem was tortured to death and two more gun down on the following day. I think Shaheen Hameed who is now defending Isthafa Ibrahim Manik was in the then Riyaasee Commission. What more is there to report and say. A day will come when justice will be served and there won't be a Shaheen to defend. I am waiting for that day.

  3. True the current gang violence and open knife attacks in the country are way more important and critical compared to the torture cases of before. It is good to bring out pictures which reminds many about how some people in DRP and also some who joined MDP from the previous government has a very bad history which trails them where ever they go.

    I myself have forgiven Maumoon for allowing over 7 or more of his loyal army personals who beat me from head to toe with wooden planks and batons during the anti-government demonstration known as black friday in Maldivian history. I only ask all of them to repent to Allah (swt) because the punishment which comes in your grave and in the hereafter is what you and all the army personals - who went around torturing people that day - needs to fear the most. When your family buries you after your deaths, do you really think it is your families that can save you? Your friends or money? Nor can my forgiveness alone save you.

    Ofcourse I can only speak for myself because each person has the right to forgive or seek justice in Islam. An eye for an eye is your right in Islam.

    Nevertheless, I still believe that gang violence is and should be the top priority. It should be eradicated by force if needed, since two years is more than enough time to do it the peaceful way. Im sure the government can do both. Maybe also start by targeting individual Judges for the roles in corruption and weak moral values. Ofcourse the opposition needs to do their part in Parliament for this as well. People are ready to blame anyone and both sides if required for wasting time and resources on childish party fights.

  4. This isn't against any investigation, Anni just want arrest Maumoon.

    As Raako Musamanik was accusing on the podium.

  5. Why would someone want investigate this now!

    this is a political stunt anni is investigating. come on guys wake up. someone can back me here. all the cruel and ordered to beat jail detainees are with this Government. so nothing to investigate.

    stop wasting your time do something good for this country no One afford to buy anything now. can you solve this issues instead of wasting for another things.

  6. It is a cause for great sorrow that despite all the promises of 'Aneh Dhivehi Raaje, most Maldivians have not as yet stepped out from the shadow of fear and into the light of dignity.

    What is greater, the depression, anxiety, and meaninglessness which comes when one hides from the suffering of standing out against injustice, or the pain of persecution and torture involved living with dignity.

    In the end, their will be no choice, as eventually, we need the light of dignity and will die a billion deaths without it.

    Come forward! With knowledge about torture, AND with knowledge about gangsterism, and FIGHT for an end to tyranny forever!

  7. Thank you Shaheen Hameed for saving my beloved Shahida's aunt's husband.

  8. I think the article itself makes it plain that torture, acts of physical and verbal abuse as well as other violent acts committed by the law enforcement officials in this country is a matter of culture and values.

    We need to answer some basic questions first.

    - Do police and prison officials still fail to adhere to the standards expected of them in the current and past constitutions? - My answer is yes.

    - Is the current President perceived to be failing in addressing such issues in the same way that Qayyoom had failed? - Yes.

    - Has anyone suffered injustice, persecution and an affront to their dignity under the current regime? - Once again, my answer is yes.

    - Will convicting President Qayyoom solve the issues that plague our country today? - I highly doubt it.

    I do not deny that some symbolic act or reconciliation campaign might help to assuage the deep-seated angers for injustices (whether real or perceived) that people have suffered under the past regime. However, there are very real issues we need to address at the moment.

    - The judiciary is in disarray and under constant pressure to side with either of the major political parties in this country.
    - While criminal procedure are vaguely defined in regulatory instruments used by the police, there is little general awareness on those procedures among the general public.
    - The legal community is at risk of having their livelihoods affected by legislation which takes away the right of mounting a legal defense to criminal allegations.
    - We are poised to regress back to one-party rule. The citizens of this country must prepare for this eventuality. Articles must be written about the possible effects of having the executive, legislature and judiciary (an inevitable product of the MDP's max-campaign) concentrated in the hands of one individual.

    On the last point, I guess it would be easy for those of us who spent most of our youth in autocratic regimes to return back to criticizing government in hushed whispers and behind closed doors as well as brushing up on our apple-polishing skills from ages of yore.

  9. This is our beloved 100 per cent Muslim country tucked away in a corner of the Indian Ocean and waiting for tourists from far and near.

    Here, the white man can stretch his legs and relax, and the white woman can lie down and have a little rest.

    This is all true, that about which you are writing.

    But I am a Maldivian, and I feel sick when I read it.

    Is it necessary for human beings to be so cruel to each other?

  10. Isthafa knows what he did. Adam Zahir knows what he did and Maumoon knows what he did. The police know what they did. Allah knows what all of them did. On the day of judgement Shaheen Hameed cannot save these people from the consequences of what they did. I for one know that Isthafa used to stand and watch people being tortured under detention before they were sentenced. They made criminals out of innocent children using their detention and torture machinery. Many of the gangsters you see today are the monsters Maumoons torture regime created. Then there was no court that would release people that Isthafa kept under detention for any length of time they preferred. The courts sentenced innocent children and people based on confessions made under torture. Isthafa was one of the people who presided over this system and Shaheen Hameed knows this for a fact.

  11. Another MDP stunt...People are getting poorer day by day..The country is going to the dogs...MDp activits are getting richbeyond their wildesd dreams....The government is failing to provide for the populance, Investigating torture is a great way to divert attention from the fool masses of the people....

  12. Mariyam rasheeda, you're very right. I too would like to thank Shaheen Hameed for saving your girl friend shahidha's uncle in law.

  13. We need to answer some basic questions first.

    - Do police and prison officials still fail to adhere to the standards expected of them in the current and past constitutions? – My answer is yes.

    There is a possibility to seek redress unlike before. The failure to be accountable is not systematic. The days during which police committed crimes against citizens with impunity are over.

    - Is the current President perceived to be failing in addressing such issues in the same way that Qayyoom had failed? – Yes.

    A perception does not necessarily imply facts.

    - Has anyone suffered injustice, persecution and an affront to their dignity under the current regime? – Once again, my answer is yes.

    That is a matter of opinion. I stub my toe and it's a catastrophe, however, if you fall into an open manhole and die, that is a minor niggle.

    The question is whether there is a systematic torture of political detainees and sentenced criminals sanctioned by the state, and are these crimes committed by the direct orders/or clear awareness of senior administrative officials?

    - Will convicting President Qayyoom solve the issues that plague our country today? – I highly doubt it.

    I highly doubt it too, convicting criminals has not eradicated crime, much less has it been a solution the varied malaise that exist in our society.

    A conviction if done with in a fair and transparent matter- would bring justice and closure to the victims of the crimes.

  14. Now that MDP has the majority in the Majlis, the Government must quickly get the Majlis to endorse the Presidential Commission's mandate as assigned by the President as well as governing regulations of the Commission.

    The President should then ask the Majlis to grant the power to prosecute all the cases related to torture and theft of state funds by Maumoon and his cronies.

    HEP Nasheed should set up a Special Tribunal to try these cases of torture and embezzlement of State funds by Maumoon, Yameen and company.

    We need swift justice in this matter which has dragged on for far too long.

    To rebuild this nation from the ruin left behind by Maumoon, we need to put these crminals behind bars so that we can close this chapter once and for all and move forward with a fresh new beginning.

    There should be no mercy to those who have committed torture or have ordered such abuse of helpless human beings. Maumoon's Regime is guilty of systemtic torture. Likewise, there is more than enough evidence on the millions of dollars stolen and/or embezzled by Maumoon, Yameen and their family.

  15. It is good that Police are ivestigating torture. but shame and could have start earlier.

    Maumoon and Isthafa should take the full responsibily of torture and killed people during their time. No metter who did when whoever tortured to detailnees for no reasons. should be investigate and Human Rights commision should be support to the Goverment. I support MDP Goverment and i do belive this is only the political party that we have functioning properly. with Proper democracy.

    I call MDP protesters to make more rally and gether in every where and pressure to Goverment to Investigate these cases.
    I think Goverment should take actions against those people. they cant get away from that. if that makes to arrest Maumoon arrest and put him in jail and do all you can to our future.

  16. Why are we always talking about Maumoon and his 30 years,

    we've elected Mohamed Nasheed's Goverment for better future. " not to look back" So I still see specialy MDP Parliment members are doing the same thing. every friday night MDP podium you are hearing something new about arrest this person.
    we shouldn't look back we have to look forward move on, come on guys grow Up.

  17. @ why are we talking about Maumoon and his 30 years?

    Because this old man is unable to gracefully retire from politics and live in dignity amongst his fellow Maldivians.

    He is so selfish and ruthless that he has never truly accepted the results of the Presidential Election and is hell bent on over throwing the government by creating chaos in this country.

    This Dictator had the nerve to manipulate the Interim Supreme Court to allow him to contest in the Presidential Election, when clearly the Constitutions bars anyone from holding the Office of the President for more than 2 consecutive terms.

    This was one of the fundamental reasons the people of Maldives wanted to amend the Constitution ie: Because Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom had been in power for 30 years!!

    Yet, this Dictator had hood winked the public and the judiciary to allow him to contest in the election which he had hoped to rig and remain in power till goes to his grave.

    By God's grace, we managed to kick him out of office but like a curse he seems adamant to come back to power by whatever means.

    He lives in parallel universe and sees himself as the 'true' President of this country.

    Hence, the reason why we need to bring him to justice for the abuses he committed during his Regime, instead of forgetting about it. There is no other way for this country to move forward.

  18. @ahmed. Looks like neither you nor any one close to you was subjected to Maumoons torture machinery. If you had been you would not be so quick to dismiss these with words such as "grow up". It is in fact grown up mature citizens of this country who want some form of acknowledgement of the torture they were put through. Come on ahmed where is your humanity. No one here is asking for sweeping unlawful actions like Maumoon and gang carried out. Dont be so quick to dismiss other peoples misery. This is not about politics. This is about trying to move on with some dignity.

  19. In 2002, 6 army men kicked a 21 year old man (under special orders) with ankle boots inside the so famous shaheed hussain adam building ; bound to the seat,, till he confessed to selling drugs. The room was set dark and the man was bound hand behind chair with his legs also same. The army men took gratitude of beating him 3 times before his confession. The plan was...
    1. The victim never saw any of his attackers face
    2. The policeman who was questioning alwas left the room locked after questioning n the army men did their job.
    3. The army men also cannot recognize the victims face due to pitch darkness in the room.
    It was a job well done.

    Y not go into confession? or write a famous tabloid?
    Ans: No faith in system.

  20. see...still under moderation.
    like i faith in system...any system.
    no witness required. I was among the 6 army men


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