The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) and the Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office are conducting separate investigations into the death of a child in the island of Rakeedhoo in Vaavu atoll.
The body of three-year-old Mohamed Ibthihaal, showing signs of severe abuse, has now been brought to Malé for further investigation and examination.
HRCM commission member Ahmed Tholal said that the focal point for vulnerable groups will lead a comprehensive investigation into the child’s death in a human rights perspective in order to identify any negligence by state institutions and individuals.
“We will share the report of the investigation with the public and relevant institutions. The report will also point to potential systematic flaws that may have led to this tragic death”, Tholal said.
Rakeedhoo Island Councillor Abdulla Rasheed told Minivan News yesterday that authorities had been aware of the abuse, having visited with the mother prior to the incident.
“We previously informed the police and gender ministry that the kid was being abused, but when [the mother] was questioned she was going to take care of the boy and stop abusing him,” explained Rasheed.
The mother was said to be unresponsive to questioning yesterday, having alerted health officials to the incident after she had rushed to the health centre before passing out.
Neither the police nor the gender ministry were revealing details of the case at the time of publication, though both have promised statements.
PG’s Office Spokesman Adam Arif told Minivan News that the office was currently investigating the death and that it will also focus on the events leading to the death in terms of possible negligence on the state’s part.
“Maldives Police Services will be investigating how exactly the child died and the immediate circumstances. The PG Office will investigate the events that led to this, including talks about how some state institutions were made aware of the child being beaten and abused”, Arif said.
The boy’s mother was known to the authorities as having a record of abusing the boy, who is the eldest of three. Media have published old images of child, appearing to show a black eye from past abuse.
Arif also noted that a three-member team of prosecutors are currently collecting information about the history of abuse in the case the child.
PG Muhthaz Muhsin was quoted in media yesterday as saying. “It is unacceptable that the child was handed over to the mother for the second time after it was found that she was beating him.”
The incident has provoked an outpouring of grief, with President Abdulla Yameen promising strict punishments for those found culpable in Ibthihaal’s death. A public rally has been arranged for Friday at 4:15pm from the Raalhugandhu area in Malé.
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) held a news conference yesterday regarding the incident, expressing the party’s concern over possible systematic flaws that might have led to the death.
“The main issue is that, this is not first time that he was harmed. He did not die on the first day he was harmed,” said MP Rozaina Adam.
“This is not a political problem, but instead this is a very big social problem which can only be fixed if everyone in this country works towards a solution.”
She revealed that MDP parliamentary group has decided to summon the gender ministry and other relevant state institutions to the Majlis to investigate the matter and to identify ways to prevent the occurrence of any such incidents in the future.
MDP rights committee chair Hisaan Hussain welcomed PG’s decision to investigate into the matter. Pointing to the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan, Hisaan expressed her disappointment over the lack of results from such state investigations.
She suggested that proper measures taken at the right time could have prevented the death.
“Did the gender ministry monitor the situation within the house after its initial visit? If not, why not?”
Following the death of the child former president and MDP leader Mohamed Nasheed tweeted stating that “the only way to protect children is to strengthen the social protection programme”.
(PHOTO: IBRAHIM ASAD)
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