New regulations require inmates to shower twice a day

The government has imposed stricter standards of personal hygiene in prisons and limited the length to which inmates can grow their facial hair.

The regulation on inmates’ discipline requires inmates to shower twice a day and clean their cells under the supervision of Maldives correctional services officers.

The stricter sanitary measures are expected to reduce the spread of diseases and will improve prison cleanliness, said commissioner of prisons Mohamed Husham.

“Skin diseases are very common in jail. Before these regulation were written, we could not tell a prisoner to even take a shower. Now we can, which will benefit both the prisoner and his cell mates,” Husham said.

The new regulation also requires male prisoners to shave their facial hair completely or keep a two-inch beard. Inmates cannot shave their heads, and hair must be kept at two centimeters.

An inmate from Maafushi Jail told Minivan News there is a lot of resistance to the new regulations.

“A majority of inmates are against it because it dictates our appearance. Plus some of us grow our beards because of religious beliefs. We won’t obey the rule. But I think there will be some who will,” he said.

Some religious scholars have expressed concerns over the provision requiring shorter beards.

“Islam requires men to grow their beards long. So no one can impose a ban on that which God has instructed us to do. It also goes against the Maldives constitution which states that no law or regulation should be made against Islamic principles,” said Dr Iyaz Abdul Latheef, the vice president of the Figh Academy.

Husham, however, defended the regulations saying it “establishes a disciplinary standard for the inmates. The appearance of prisoners is also important in the rehabilitation process.”

The commissioner of prisons said he had expected some controversy over the beards, but said: “My point is the inmates are here to be disciplined and rehabilitated. There should be an established standard on how inmates should keep their beards as well.”

Vice president of the human rights commission of the Maldives, Ahmed Tholal, says he has “some concerns” over the new regulations, but said he cannot disclose further information without a discussion among the five commissioners.

Staff at the correctional services in 2012 got the Maafushi court to annul a regulation banning them from sporting beards, but the High Court overturned the verdict citing a procedural mistake.



Death penalty can be implemented starting today: Home Minister

The death penalty can be implemented in the Maldives starting today following the publication of procedural regulations in the government gazette, Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer has said.

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, Naseer said the chances of killing an innocent person after completing all the procedures in the regulation – titled “procedural regulation on investigating and penalising the crime of murder” – was “far-fetched” and “almost impossible”.

The regulation was formulated under the Police Act and the Clemency Act with the objective of specifying the procedures for investigating murders and implementing death penalty, and came into force today.

While Maldives has been maintaining an unofficial moratorium on the death penalty since 1953, several people have been sentenced to death over the years. The common practice had been for the president to commute all death sentences to life imprisonment through powers vested in him by Clemency Act.

With the new regulation, the president will no longer have this authority if a person is sentenced to death for murder by the Supreme Court, Naseer noted.

Both President Abdulla Yameen and Vice President Mohamed Jameel have expressed their support for implementing death penalty.


The regulation only allows implementation of death penalty for intentional homicide or premeditated murder and only when the sentence is delivered by the Supreme Court.

A death penalty committee comprised of the Prosecutor General, Chief Justice (or someone appointed by him) and the Commissioner of Prisons have to send a written confirmation to the president that all procedures of the regulation have been followed.

After receiving this confirmation, the president is required to send an execution order to the Commissioner of Prisons within three days.

Within seven days of receiving this order, the Maldives Correctional Service (MCS) has to carry out the execution using lethal injection.

Naseer said the executions will take place at a building in Maafushi Prison, which is currently under construction.

Mediation process

The regulation requires Ministry of Islamic Affairs to mediate between the victim’s family and the convict.

Through this process, which reflects the Shariah principle of qisas (retaliation), family members who are ‘warith’ (heirs in Shariah law) will be given an opportunity to pardon the convict with or without receiving blood money.

The execution will not be carried out even if a single member of the family chooses to pardon the convict.

The family is given a ten-day period following the mediation to come to a decision.

“A first step”

According to the regulation, implementation of death penalty can be delayed if the convict is underage, till he or she is 18-years-old and if the convict is pregnant, until she gives birth and the child is two years old.

If a medical board appointed by the Commissioner of Prisons finds the convict is of very weak health, the sentence will be delayed till he recovers.

Responding to a question about implementing stricter punishments for other crimes as well, Naseer said the decision to implement death penalty for murder is just a first step and noted that “the Quran was also revealed through different stages.”

“Look at this as a first step. God willing, this government will take all necessary action for keeping peace and creating a safe environment for our citizens.” He said.

Naseer also noted that there maybe some countries and organisations which would be concerned over the decision, but said the Maldives will go ahead with it as a sovereign nation and a 100 percent Islamic country.

“There will be some parties who will be concerned about this. Concerned countries, concerned NGOs. Some counties are not too pleased with it [death penalty, but we will know about the issue of executing people in this country, the overcrowding of prisons in this country, how much the criminal environment is more lively in this country. And we are a hundred percent Islamic country and there are certain values that we all believe in,” Naseer said.


Hospitalised Maafushi inmate requested transfer from cell before assault

An inmate who suffered serious head injuries in a prison fight at Maafushi jail last month requested to be transferred from his cell more than an hour before the assault, according to a one-page report shared by the Maldives Correctional Services (MCS) with parliament’s government oversight committee.

On February 24, Prison Corporal Mohamed Mujthaba, the ranking duty officer at the time of the incident, was informed by guards of unrest in cell number 12 of unit three, wing one, at about 5:25pm, stated the report read out by MCS Lawyer Mohamed Zahir at yesterday’s committee meeting.

Mujthaba questioned the prisoners and was asked by two of the three inmates in cell 12 – Ali Ashwan of Ma. Oasis Villa and Ibrahim Azar of M.Dhodhilige – to be transferred to a different cell.

“However, when [the inmates] were asked to explain the reason for wanting to change cells, they refused to do so until they were taken out of the cell,” the report revealed.

At about 6:00pm, the report stated, instructions were given by Prison Corporal Ali Maaniu, deputy head of the operation and security department, to transfer the inmates.

However, the third inmate in cell 12 – Ahmed Liushan, also from Ma. Oasis Villa – obstructed prison guards who attempted to take the other inmates out of the cell.

Duty-in-charge Corporal Mujthaba then made arrangements to transfer the inmates with the assistance of officers from the Emergency Support Group (ESG).

At about 6:50pm, Mujthaba and the ESG officers made their way to the cell upon hearing a commotion from the unit.

“When they opened the cell and looked inside, Ibrahim Azar was severely beaten. A lot of blood was flowing out of Ibrahim Azar’s head at the time. [Azar] indicated with gestures to the officers that he was assaulted by Ahmed Liushan. In addition, some officers saw Ahmed Liushan attacking Ibrahim Azar when they opened the cell,” the report stated.

The injured inmate was first treated by nurses at the Maafushi jail reception area before being taken to the Maafushi Health Centre.

A doctor at the health centre advised that the inmate be immediately taken to Malé after completing medical procedures, the report continued, whereupon he was sent to Malé on a speedboat with three prison officers and two nurses at around 7:45pm.

The other two inmates in cell 12 were meanwhile kept separately in holding cells for the investigation of the assault.

Commissioner of Prisons Moosa Azim was informed of the incident at 7:02pm, the report stated, whilst the assault was reported to the Maafushi police station at 8:03pm.

A police team began investigating the case shortly thereafter, took witness statements and sought forensic evidence.

Azar meanwhile underwent surgery at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) for multiple injuries to his skull and remains in a coma under intensive care. He had been serving a five year sentence for drug abuse.

“Relevant” officials

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party MPs on the committee meanwhile contended that prison officers were culpable in the incident as the inmates had been left unsupervised for more than 50 minutes.

Although Home Minister Umar Naseer and Commissioner of Prisons Moosa Azim were told to appear before the oversight committee yesterday, neither attended the meeting.

While Deputy Commissioner of Prisons Hassan Zilal and Superintendent Ibrahim Mohamed were sent in their place, both senior prison officials were unable to answer questions posed by MPs, citing lack of information.

The deputy commissioner informed MPs that he had been on the job for just two weeks and was yet to be given operational responsibilities. Zilal said he was not in Maafushi on the day in question.

Both officials suggested that MPs summon “relevant persons” to clarify details of the incident. Ibrahim Mohamed however revealed that doctors at IGMH had advised MCS that Azar should be flown overseas for medical treatment.


President Yameen institutes parole board, appoints commissioner of prisons

President Abdulla Yameen yesterday instituted an eight-member parole board under the recently ratified Prisons and Parole Act – he also appointed a commissioner of prisons.

The members appointed to the parole board were Fauziyya Ali from the Education Ministry, Mohamed Rasheed from the Health Ministry, Deputy Counsel General Khadeeja Shabeen from the Attorney General’s Office, Mohamed Shah from NGO Irama Youth Association, Chief Superintendent of Police Abdulla Ahmed, Dr Ahmed Ziyad from the Islamic Ministry, Dr Mohamed Habeeb to represent the medical community, and Dr Shanooha Mansoor as a psychiatrist.

President Yameen also appointed Moosa Asim, of Henveiru Dhiyadhoo, as the commissioner of prisons at the Maldives Correctional Service.

Asim previously served as deputy superintendent at the now-defunct Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Service.

Additionally, President Yameen also appointed Abdulla Ahmed, of Dhevinage in Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo, as a deputy minister at the Ministry of Home Affairs.