Inmates in Maafushi Prison have been handed a notice informing them that they must have short hair and trimmed or shaved beards in order to be eligible for parole, a family member of an inmate informed Minivan News.
The source told Minivan News that the notice handed to inmates states that according to Prison Order 12, article 1.5, inmates shall not grow their hair and beard unless for “a medical purpose”, and hair must be trimmed or shaved, or they would not be eligible for parole.
The notice also stated that in a meeting held by the Parole Board on April 11, 2012, the board decided to consider hair as a disciplinary issue when selecting inmates for parole, and that inmates who insisted on long hair or growing their beards would have it recorded as a misdeed in their disciplinary record, according to the source.
The notice was made in compliance with Second Chance Program Office memo number 479/167/2012/113, Minivan News was informed.
When considering parole the board will check for record of misdeeds over the past six months.
Parole Board Chair Dr Ali Shahid Mohamed meanwhile denied that the Parole Board made such a decision.
‘’We are not mandated to determine the regulations and rules of the prison, we only see their disciplinary records and we will see what progress the inmate has made in prison,’’ Shahid said.
Shahid said he does not know what the prison regulations stated about beard and hair.
‘’We did not make any specific decision related to hair or beard in the meeting that day, we enhanced an earlier decision to consider the inmates disciplinary record when releasing inmates on parole,’’ he said.
Parole Board member from Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Service (DPRS) Bilal did not respond to calls at time of press.
DPRS Director General Mohamed Rasheed’s mobile phone was switched off.
In November last year a group of prison guards working in Maafushi Prison filed a case at the Maafushi Court after they were ordered to shave off their beards.
Maafushi Court ruled that growing a beard for men in Islam is more than a Sunnah and almost ‘waajib’ (obligatory), and that prison officers should not be asked to shave off their beards.
In March this year the High Court invalidated the ruling saying that Maafushi Court gave no opportunity for the defendant – the Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Services (DPRS) – to say anything before the case was concluded, and that therefore the ruling was unlawful.