Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP for Madaveli Mohamed Nazim has called on parliament’s national security committee to investigate the arrest of two minors living in the Villingili Orphanage.
The issue was discussed at the National Security Committee meeting on Monday. MPs decided to summon the head of the Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Services (DPRS), the Ministry of Gender, Family and Human Rights, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), and representatives from the Villingili orphanage.
The committee has summoned the heads of the authorities to appear on Tuesday night at 8:30pm.
In a letter to the chair of the committee, MDP MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, MP Nazim said there was public concern regardingthe arrest of the two minors.
The letter said that media reports regarding the arrest of the two minors revealed that HRCM and the Ministry of Gender, Family and Human Rights were in dispute over the issue.
Nazim asked the committee to publish details of its investigation on completion.
On January 17, HRCM called for the immediate release of 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 some 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.
The commission stated that government authorities had not cooperated with the commission’s investigation and had furthermore provided false information on the matter.
In response last Friday, the Ministry of Gender, Family and Human Rights issued a statement condemning the HRCM and alleging that its official who went to meet the two underage girls had forced them to talk about their past.
The ministry said it was considering taking legal action against the HRCM.
Later the same day the HRCM issued a counter statement, claiming HRCM officials who visited the jail were highly qualified.
Meanwhile, sources familiar with Maafushi prison confirmed to Minivan News that the two underage females had now 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 as the two girls.
‘’The girls have not met the inmate [population], they have have met inmates who are participants in the handicraft workshop,’’ the source told Minivan News.