Maafushi prison administrators deny media tour of ‘Pentagon’

The media were prevented from getting access to the maximum security ‘Pentagon’ wing of the Maafushi prison yesterday when the sunset, seemingly, caught prison officials by surprise.

“It is too dark now”, Mohamed Asif, Assistant Superintendant of the prison told members of the media who had been waiting an hour for the promised tour. The media were on Maafushi, on invitation from the UNDP, to cover the closing ceremony of a human rights training programme for prison staff it ran in conjunction with state bodies.

Home Affairs Minister Mohamed Shihab, accompanied by UNDP Resident Coordinator Andrew Cox and other officials from the Ministry, were given a tour of the prison. For reasons that remain unexplained, the media were not allowed to join the tour.

“You have to wait until the Minister and his delegation finish the tour”, Asif said, in what appeared to be acquiescence to media requests to join the tour. Members of the media were then made to sit on some beachside loungers, watching the sun go down in the company of a uniformed prison officer. After an hour, they were told the time had come to leave the island. There was no word of the promised tour.

When pressed, Asif told the media that since night had fallen, it was now too dark to see anything.

‘Promoting Access to Justice’ and protecting human rights is the UNDP project under which the training programme for the prison officers was held. 17 prison officers received certificates after a three-day training session by a group of judges from various courts in the country.

Speaking on behalf of the trainees, Trainee Prison Officer Abdul Qadir Ibrahim, said they have now realised that the Constitution is “as essential for life as water itself.”

Inmates at Maafushi prison petitioned President Mohamed Nasheed in July this year for better conditions at the prison. They claimed that over 100 prisoners were being held in cells designed to hold 35, forcing them to take turns sleeping.

When they did get a bed, there were no mattresses, and when there were mattresses there was no bed linen. They alleged that prison officers cited shortage of government funds as the reason for the lack of resources and facilities at the prison.

The media, although on the island and within the premises of the prison when a tour of the prison was being given to government officials and the UNDP, were unable to independently verify any of the allegations as they were not allowed to join the tour.


7 thoughts on “Maafushi prison administrators deny media tour of ‘Pentagon’”

  1. A complain against the current regime. Don't worry, there will a period of time, in this regime that media even cannot access to Maafushi,where the jail is located. There'll be a day that you cannot write anything what you want.
    Thirty Years will recall. Maldives would be in 1979, in 2013.

  2. This has to be joke...well apparently my country also have high level security in jail. Why are these media so much interested in convicted criminals. Don't u have any thing to do??? well, in my island, there are more domestic violence cases, more rape cases and more drug related crimes. there are schools without fax machine, due to lack of budget. don't u guys know it???? This is sick. Does the media know how many gynecologist are there in Maldives? Do you know how many Schools are there without teachers. MORE THAN I EXPECTED.... U MEDIA GUYS ARE SICK.. B*****&$^T

  3. Yasin Fikry is so desperate to ratchet this whole affair to the current regime.

    It could have worked.

    Too bad for him this Asif (The head of the ESG, responsible for the continued violation of human rights) is a DRP scumbag to the core pretending to be an MDP supporter.

    President Nasheed should demonstrate his vaunted ruthlessness and deploy a Presidential-level strike team to execute these DRP vermin. Nothing short of a total purge of all opposition elements from all government institutions will resolve the ongoing political deadlock.

  4. I dont think anywhere in the world Media has access to jails. Its restricted to the staff and relavent fact finding missions. Nobody seems to remember that the inmates burnt the jail twice and government needs time to get the renovations done. We spend so much of our income to look after so many inmates in jails and rehabs. Its up to the parents and families to work hard to keep their kids and family members on the right track. Its heartbreaking to see a 100% muslim country having so many people in jails. Today the day started with the news of a senior citizens murder. Forget politics and join hands to recover our lost "paradise"

  5. the level of this government is getting exposed by day. While some still bale DRP for the current administrations failures it should be the home minister who should be held accountable. Day by day we see the rule of law being shredded and the governments claim of being democratic and transparent evaporate. The jails are still run as how maumoons regime ran. Maybe tyhe tourtue has gone down but the conditions that the criminals have to survive is still not humane.
    This regime should realize that substandard jails resulted in everyone who went to jail become hardcore criminals. The "pumping air" brigade will go on and blame the previous regime DRP elements in this government. But its time we held this government accountable to rule of law and its promises then only we will be able to live in the change we voted for.

  6. the article is NOT TRUE. they were not denied access. media was told they could not take their cameras. by the way, no where in the world you can take cameras to a prison. besides media was not invited to give a tour of the prison, they were there to write about the prison staff training. maybe that's what media should have done, but rather they were interested in writing a "juicy story" to get public's attention. None of the reporters were interested in writing about the training.
    Dear Journalist.. please do research and background information before when you are invited to cover a story. By the way: “access to justice” does not mean, getting access to a prison.


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