The country’s main prison in Kaafu Atoll Maafushi is “in chaos”, families of inmates have claimed, 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 the unfulfilled pledges the government made to inmates.
The source said fights between inmates and jail officers was a daily occurrence.
“It has become the normal situation inside the cells and someone will get hurt. It won’t be a good day without it,” he said.
“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, brought 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.
He added that the jail officers continually insist that they did not have sufficient funds.
Inmates did not have pillows, mats, toothpaste, washing powder, enough plates for everyone, enough space for 80 men in a cell and no medication, he said.
”There are no chairs to sit, if the inmates built a chair on their own, MNDF, ESG Force and police will come and give punishments,” he claimed.
Moreover, water given to inmates was not filtered and has led to medical issues.
”But there are not even first aid services there,” he said.
Units with a maximum capacity of 35 was housing between 80 to 90 inmates, he continued.
Further, inmates faced difficulties meeting their parents.
”Former government sent inmates home for three days a month and one month a year,” he said.
He said that sometimes the media said that there were sports and other events conducted for the inmates ”which is not literally how it happens,”
”Only 20 inmates they participate in these events, who are friends and has family relationship with the jail officers,” he claimed.
He said that inmates were counting their days wishing for a day when the president would fulfill his pledges he made to the inmates.
“Day by day Maafushi jail’s condition is going down and inmates have to suffer. Those who sleep on the soft beds, eats on the bigger plates, lives in the bigger houses do not feel what the inmates feel,” he complained.
Director General of Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation (DPRS), Ahmed Rasheed, said he had received information about the scuffles after the latest incident last month.
Rasheed said that inmates were provided with mattresses and pillows but they damaged them “when they get angry”.
”To damage something does not take too much time, but to get money to replace it takes a lot of time,” Rasheed explained.
He said the jail was reconstructed after the inmates set the place on fire, but admitted that it was not like as it was before as ”it took several years to built the place like that.”
He said the department was providing all basic necessities and amenities to inmates.