Inmates in Maafushi jail have sent a petition to President Mohamed Nasheed complaining that conditions in the prison have deteriorated to the point where few inmates can sleep.
The petition signed by 236 prisoners claimed that inmates now allocate time to sleep, one after another, on the floor without bedsheets or pillows. The petition also claimed that the inmates do not have good medical facility or a safe environment in which to live.
“Only a few inmates can sleep when it rains,’’ said the petition. ‘’The capacity of the units is for 35 men, but we note that 90-100 inmates are kept in each unit.’’
The prisoner’s petition lists benefits discontinued after the government came to power.
The list of complaints sent by the inmates includes:
- Inmates are not given the opportunity to conduct the five prayers, or the Friday prayers.
- An increase in the number of issues related to hygiene.
- Two doctors working in the prison system are writing prescriptions without identifying the disease.
- The government used to provide religious books but this has come to a halt.
- Inmates were not receiving 3-7 grams of milk daily that had been allocated.
- TVs and radios on which to watch the news and entertain the inmates have been restricted.
- Pillows, mattress and bed-sheets were not provided, and were instead appropriated by jail officers claiming that the government could not afford to provide them.
- Lightbulb, fans and other electrical products were are restricted and inmates are in pitch darkness at night.
The petition also claimed that the prison still contains inmates convicted for actions which are not crimes under the current constitution, such as several who participated in an anti-government riot in 2003.
On May 13, families of inmates claimed the jail was “in chaos”, with neither the inmates nor jail officers reportedly in charge.
A person familiar with Maafushi jail told Minivan News that the situation was deteriorating daily due to unfulfilled pledges the government made to inmates, and that fights between inmates and jail officers was a daily occurrence.
“Inmates in the cells are demanding fulfillment of the pledges President Mohamed Nasheed made, and the jail officers claim they do not have the budget or power they demand.”
Moreover, he said, inmates were claiming that their parents and family had voted for President Nasheed because of the pledges he made during the presidential elections.
”They claim that half of Nasheed’s votes came from inmates’ families, who voted for the pledge that they will give parole and clemency to inmates,” he said.
Shortly after the new government came to power, Special Envoy to the President Ibrahim Hussein Zaki visited the jail.
”He came and told all the inmates to think that they all were free now,” he said. ”He said that within weeks everyone will be free.”
He added that inmates were very happy about the news but “after days there was no sign of them and inmates became disheartened.”
In protest, inmates staged a hunger strike in December 2008.
”The State Minister [for Home Affairs, Ahmed Shafeeq] visited the inmates, bringing a document signed by the president and told everyone to calm down,” he said. “Then again our families, kids and spouses were happy with the news.”
In October, rioting inmates set Maafushi jail on fire, resulting in violent clashes between inmates and prison guards.
”All the inmates were divided into the damaged cells without even cleaning the place,” he said.
On April 20,inmates in Maafushi jail were badly beaten by jail officers in a prison riot on Sunday morning at around 12:15 am, after they were allegedly asked to go out to the prison yard and kneel on the ground.
A person familiar with the case told Minivan News that the riot was sparked when jail officers entered Unit 7 while everyone was sleeping.