Committee to visit Maafushi Prison and Villingili orphanage to investigate arrest of minors

Parliament’s National Security Committee will visit Maafushi prison and the Villingili to complete their investigation into the arrest of two minors from the Villingili orphanage.

Speaking at a press conference held last night at the committee meeting room, chair of the committee, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, said the committee’s decision followed questioning of the Ministry of Gender Family and Human Rights, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), the Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Services (DPRS) and the Villingili Orphanage.

Heads of the ministries and institutions were summoned last night for questioning over the arrest of two underage females from the orphanage. The meeting started as an open meeting but was later turned into a closed meeting.

Moosa told the media the committee had learned that all concerning authorities had neglected their duties and responsibilities to protect the rights of children.

According to Moosa, DPRS officials told the committee members the two minors were being imprisoned alongside criminals undergoing their sentences.

The case was initially submitted to the National Security Committee by MDP MP for Madaveli, Mohamed Nazim.

Nazim contended that there was public concern regarding the arrest of the two minors and asked the committee to publish the details of its investigation on completion.

On January 17, HRCM called for the immediate release of the two underage females living in the Villingili orphanage, who were arrested and sent to Maafushi prison.

Local media alleged the two girls, aged 15 and 16, were arrested on December 28, 2012, after escaping the orphanage in the middle of the night to fraternise with boys.

HRCM asked the Ministry of Gender, Family and Human Rights to return the girls to the Villingili orphanage immediately, noting that their incarceration in Maafushi prison violated chapter 2, article 35[a] of the constitution.

Meanwhile, sources familiar with Maafushi prison confirmed to Minivan News that the two underage females had been moved to a separate area of the prison, but were being kept with two other underage female inmates completing their sentences.

According to the sources, at least one man was arrested in connection with the same case.