State Home Minister Mohamed ‘Monaza’ Naeem has denied allegations made by the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) that the ministry is obstructing the investigation of cases involving inmates released under the government’s ‘second chance’ programme, and called on the organisation “to be honest and fair.”
HRCM recently met with the press and alleged that the government was releasing inmates who had committed offences such as theft, robbery and assault under the second chance programme, and that it was withholding information and obstructing the investigation.
Speaking at a press conference this afternoon at the Second Chance Programme Office, Naeem said that HRCM had requested the government send them details of the inmates released with their photographs and fingerprints.
Naeem said that the Home Ministry was trying to determine whether the HRCM had the legal authority to obtain fingerprints of the prisoners, because fingerprints were kept only for police purposes.
Naeem said he had met with commission members and briefed them about the second chance programme.
Furthermore, the State Minister said that the Ministry had been cooperating with the Human Rights Commission and called on the commission to treat everyone equally.
“HRCM said nothing about the incident that occurred near Alivaage, or following the death of an inmate in Maafushi prison,” Naeem said. “I personally called them and invited them to see the place where he died.”
An official from the Second Chance Programme told Minivan News that all inmates released were incarcerated for drug-related offences.
“To get drugs the drug addicts commit different crimes – they might steal something or commit a robbery,” he explained. “So far 304 inmates have been released and 17 of them have had to be returned to prison for breaking the rules of their release.”
He said all the inmates were released according to the law, and that the Second Chance Programme Office and police have been monitoring the inmates released.
“We randomly test urine of the inmates at least once a week,” he said. A number of inmates released under the programme have been taken back into custody after testing positive for drug use.