The People’s Alliance (PA) has claimed the government was aware of a possible protest in Maafushi jail over prison conditions, but did not take any action.
Last year on 13 October inmates set fire on some of the cells and caused serious damage to the jail. Two staff jail were badly injured during the protest, along with several inmates.
Because of the damage to the jail caused by the inmates parts of the jail were no longer usable, and after the incident some of the inmates were transferred to a makeshift ‘cage’ prison at Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) base at Gan in Addu atoll. The temporary arrangement recently drew criticism for its use of military personnel to handle civilian prisoners.
PA MP Abdul Azeez Jamal Abubakur claimed the government was aware of the situation at Maafushi jail after it was sent a letter by Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), warning of a possible incident, but chose to ignore it.
”I’m saying this based on a report published by HRCM,” he said, claiming the letter was sent on 30 December following a visit to the jail by the commission.
”We cannot do anything more than inform people about these things,” he said, adding that he was not sure why the government had ignored the warning.
”It seems as though there are people more powerful than the president in this government,” he said.
However press secretary for president’s office Mohamed Zuhair disputed Jamal’s claims.
Zuhair said the government had been watching the jails very closely, and ”if we had received information that such a thing was going to happen, would you believe we would wait without taking any action?” he replied.
”These are just people trying to gain fame in politics,” he said.
Jamal said he does not believe Zuhair, saying “he would not know what he is talking about.”
President of HRCM Ahmed Saleem said Jamal’s claims might be in a report, “but I cannot say whether they are true or not.”