Police Commissioner urges all officers to be patient with inmates

Police Commissioner Hussain Waheed has called on police officers to treat inmates held in Dhoonidhoo in accordance with the law, warning that he will not hesitate to take action against those doing otherwise.

The commissioner noted that inmates in Dhoonidhoo detention centre face the curtailment of some of the basic rights – such as freedom of movement – and that police officers should maintain patience when faced with unsettled detainees.

Waheed also stated that police officers were now being trained to serve inmates in accordance with local and international human rights laws, urging officers to put this training into practice.

He added that he would not accept any police officer committing a crime, noting that sometimes officers have been involved in criminal activities which give a bad name to the whole institution.

On March 16, 2014, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) – in their 2013 annual report – stated that incidents of torture in detention centres were increasing in the Maldives.

Among the issues noted during the commission’s visits, and from complaints received, were detainees being held in cuffs for extended periods, detainees not being provided adequate hygiene and sleeping materials, overcrowded cells, rotten food, and the mistreatment of detainees during transfer.

The report also listed a failure to keep proper records of detainees’ medical, search, and solitary confinement details, as well as a failure to inform the HRCM of arrests.

According to the commission’s report, of a total of 596 recommendations regarding state detention facilities made – including prisons, detention centres, and homes for people with special needs – only 20 percent have been fully implemented.

The rising incidence of torture was reflected in the number of cases submitted, and a total of 72 cases of degrading treatment and torture were submitted within the year.

In December 2013, the parliament passed the Anti-torture Act [Dhivehi] which declares freedom from torture as a fundamental right, ensures respect for human rights of criminal suspects, and prohibits torture in state custody, detention in undisclosed locations, and solitary confinement.

According to the bill, any confession gained through the use of torture should be deemed invalid by the courts.

On June 2, 2013, the man found to have murdered parliament member and prominent religious scholar Dr Afrasheem Ali, Hussain Humam, retracted his confession to the crime, claiming it had been obtained by police through coercive during his detention.

Last month, Ahmed Murrath – sentenced to death for murder –  was also reported to have appealed his case at the High Court telling  judges that he had been refused access to a doctor during pretrial detention.


Vandals attack campaign offices of Majlis speaker

Speaker of the People’s Majlis and MP for Keyodhoo constituency Abdulla Shahid has today condemned an attack on his office, following the news that two campaign offices had been vandalised in the early hours of the morning.

“It was more than damage, it was an attempt to intimidate,” Shahid told Minivan News, declaring that he “would not back down” in the face of “intimidation”.

Police have confirmed that two attacks that took place in the early hours of this morning (March 13).

Speaking with Minivan News, Shahid confirmed that he was awoken at around 4am by supporters saying that there had “been some damage to the office”.

“It looked like it had been a big piece of rock damaging the class panel, and caused considerable damage,” explained Shahid.

A police statement reveals that as well as vandalism carried out at Shahid’s campaign hall, the campaign offices of Machchangoalhi Dhekunu constituency candidate Hassan Mamdhooh.

Shahid is campaigning for the 18th Majlis on a Maldivian Democratic Party ticket, while Mamdhooh is running as an independent.

The police said they are investigating the matter, but that no suspects have been arrested.

Shahid suggested that the perpetrators were intending to “intimidate the public. They want to send a message to the people that politics is violent, politics is not safe, a message to the public to lay off politics.”

Earlier this week, Shahid’s name appeared on a letter sent to the chief justice and attorney general, stating that the recent dismissal of the president and vice president of the Elections Commission (EC) was contrary to the constitutional procedures which reserved such powers for the Majlis.

The letter – also signed by Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim – was based on legal advice from the parliament’s consul general after an analysis of the Supreme Court’s verdict.

Currently, the vacant seats in the EC are being filled in an effort to keep the parliamentary elections timely. So far, parliament has approved Ismail Habeeb Abdul Raheem to replace former commission member Ibrahim ‘Ogaru’ Waheed.

When asked about the parliamentary elections, Shahid remarked: “I’m hoping against hope that it will happen,”  adding that any more delays in the elections “will destroy the democratic process of the country”.

He finished by stating that the political system will only work when there is a “peaceful environment” in which it can flourish.


Reports of theft increase 23 percent in first quarter of 2012

Cases of reported theft  have increased 23 percent in the first quarter of 2012 as compared to the first quarter of 2010, statistics from the Maldives Police Service (MPS) reveal.

While 2059 theft cases were reported in the first quarter of 2012, the figures for the same period in 2011 and 2010 stand at 1762 and 1597 respectively. Compared to 2011, 2012’s first quarter saw a 14 percent increase in reported theft.

Cases of reported assault remain the same, but cases of vandalism has increased 24 percent in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same time period in 2010.

Court buildings and police stations were vandalized and set on fire throughout the Maldives on February 8 following former President Mohamed Nasheed claim that he was deposed in a coup d’état.

Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News the increase in reported cases may be due to increased awareness of reporting procedures, and the failure to jail convicts.

“A lot of convicts who should be in jail are currently free,” Haneef said.

The Home Ministry in March claimed that only 621 of the country’s 1258 convicts sentenced to jail are currently serving their sentences.

A hundred convicts have been apprehended and sent back to jail since President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan took power in February, reports local media Haveeru.

Speaking to Haveeru, State Minister for Home Affairs Mohamed Fayaz said these 100 individuals include offenders released under former President Mohamed Nasheed’s Second Chance Programme set up to reintegrate former inmates into society.

“These people include those released under Second Chance programme and individuals who were sentenced in absentia,” Fayaz told Haveeru.

Current Home Minister Mohamed Jameel said the government intends to shut down the Second Chance Program, alleging that the former administration had used the program “to release unqualified criminals under political influence and without any clear procedure “.

Fayaz told Haveeru that the 100 individuals were sent to jail after being arrested for committing additional offenses. Furthermore, Second Chance inmates were only sent to jail because they had violated their terms of release under the programme, he said.

Fayaz and the Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Services (DPRS) were not responding at time of press.

Police have stressed that it remains too early in its investigations to say if there was a link between an increase in reported incidents of crime and recent political turmoil in the Maldives.

Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has continued to demonstrate for early elections. Hundreds have been arrested in protests since February.

Police have confirmed they are also looking into break-ins that occurred Saturday morning at offices belonging to Vice-President designate Waheed Deen and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Interim Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik. Both offices are based in the same building in the capital of Male’.

Politicians and public figures linked to both government-aligned parties and the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have raised concerns that the break-in may have been politically motivated crimes. Police urged caution in drawing early conclusions.

Since the controversial transfer of power on February 7, two men have died in knife attacks. Abdulla Muheeth died on February 19 and Ahmed Shifan died on April 1.

The Maldives Police Services’ priorities for 2012 include curbing organized crime, drug use and street violence, and increasing road safety.


Releasing of convicted criminals will not increase crime rate, says Zuhair

The impending release of close to 400 convicts will not result in a spike of crime rates in Male’, Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair insisted today, citing research conducted over the past few years.

Zuhair explained that based on the screening process the 400 prisoners to be pardoned were unlikely to become repeat offenders.

“Our statistics show that there will be nearly 400 convicted criminals that have been granted a second chance,” Zuhair said. “Out of the 119 people released on a previous occasion only two people had to be taken back to prison for committing an offence.”

Zuhair added that the inmates will be released on the condition that they would be returned to prison to complete the rest of their sentences if they committed any sort of offence in the next three years.

Apart from being hired for government jobs, the released inmates would be required to participate in rehabilitation programmes as well as national service programmes over the next two years.

In his address to the nation on Independence Day, President Mohamed Nasheed announced that close to 400 youth currently serving sentences would be offered “a second chance” and released from prison.

He explained that in classifying the 400 convicts to be freed, priority was given to inmates with serious illnesses and those who could pursue higher education or be trained to acquire new skills.

400 inmates represent almost half the Maafushi prison population in 2009.

“A rehabilitation programme will be established for those who meet the conditions and will be rejoining society under the second chance,” Nasheed said. “The basic purpose of this programme is to train them, find job opportunities for them and to ensure that they become people who are beneficial to their families.”

Speaking to press at the President’s Office today, Zuhair said that the government was grateful for the efforts of minority opposition Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) to undermine the support President Nasheed has from the international community.

“They have said they will try and lessen the support President has in the international community and we are very grateful for that because the DQP has been working very hard as the opposition,” Zuhair said. “However the President has many invitations from other countries but he does not attend unless it is so important that it could not be dismissed.”

Zuhair said that the President had been scheduled to visit Seychelles, France, America and the UK this year on official trips which would be funded by the inviting nation.

On the allegations made by opposition parties that the government’s policies risked undue influence of foreign powers in the Maldives, Zuhair suggested that such claims sprang from the government’s decision to sign a concession agreement to hand over management of Male’ International Airport to Indian infrastructure giant GMR.

“Those who opposed to the agreement should have rather filed a lawsuit in court rather than protesting on the streets,” he said.


19 year-old stabbed, days after police said most dangerous nine criminals were detained

Unknown assailants stabbed a person in the Mahchangolhi ward of Male’ last night, three days after the Deputy Head of the police’s Serious and Organized Crime Department (SOC) Inspector Abdulla Nawaz told the press that the most dangerous criminals in Male’ had been detained.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said the victim was attacked in Nikagasmagu of Mahchangolhi ward.

”His condition was not too serious,” Shiyam said. ”It is too early to say whether it was a gang fight.”

He said two men were arrested in connection to the case.

Only last week, a 25 year-old man identified as Ahmed Mirza died after he was attacked with iron bars and other weapons while he was sitting in the children’s park in Villingili.

Mirza was attacked after he reportedly made some comments about a girl.

Last Thursday, Inspector Nawaz informed the press that nine persons police believed to be dangerous criminals were now held in detention.

The nine persons Nawaz identified were: Ibrahim Shahum, Rilwan Faruhath, Ahmed Shiruhan, Abdulla Naseer, Ahmed Shareef, Mohamed Visham, Ibrahim Abdulla, Gassan Ali and his brother Hassan Ali.

Meanwhile, the parliament has commenced work to amend the Clemency Act to execute persons sentenced to death, while the Criminal Justice Procedure Bill was also presented to the parliament at the same time and is now currently at the committee stage.

In an effort to curb the rise in gang violence, President Mohamed Nasheed has formed a Crime Prevention Committee led by former Defense Minister Ameen Faisal.

So far the committee has held meetings with the Supreme Court and almost all concerned authorities, although it has yet to announce any progress.


14 death sentences issued in the past 10 years: Criminal Court

The Criminal Court has said that 14 death sentences have been passed in the last decade, however many of those convicted and given the sentence have been rearrested and brought before judges on different cases.

The court said that a total of 9197 persons had been given sentences for various crimes within the past 10 years – approximately three percent of the Maldives’ population.

2950 persons of the total 9197 convicted were banished, while 798 persons were placed under house arrest and 5435 persons were imprisoned, said the Criminal Court.

However, the court said many of the convicts who are supposed to be serving their time were brought before the judges accused of committing further offenses.

Meanwhile, the parliament has commenced its preliminary debate on the amendment presented by Jumhoory Party (JP) MP Ibrahim Muthalib to the Clemency Act, which requires death penalties to be implemented if the Supreme Court upholds a death sentence issued by a lower court or of the Supreme Court itself issues a death sentence.

If the amendment is passed the President will not have the authority to grant clemency for those who are found guilty of any offense that serves a death penalty.

The amendment was originally presented by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ibrahim Rasheed, who withdrew it claiming that he would resubmit it after bills relating to evidence and penal code were passed.

Parliamentary Group Leader of MDP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik has now presented the Criminal Justice Procedure Bill, which parliament has accepted and is awaiting preliminary debate.

As MPs present bills to try and control rising gang violence, early this morning a 25 year-old victim died in hospital after an assault two days ago that left him in a coma.

Another youth, Ahusan Basheer, 21, was stabbed to death last month on a busy street in Male. Ibrahim Shahum, 20, who was released by the court after being held in pre-trial detention for six months in connection with another murder case, was arrested along with two others. An under-aged girl, who reportedly witnessed the crime, was also arrested and kept in pre-trial detention.


Parliament approves law banning gang membership

The parliament last week approved legislation intended to clamp down on gang violence and gang related crime, and sent it to the President for ratification.

The Maldives Police Service has  complained on several occasions that violent criminals are released into society because of missing laws on gang violence, and urged MPs to approve the bill.

The law enacted by parliament states says that any person who “unites himself” to a gang formed with the intention to commit unlawful crimes, shall serve on to five  years imprisonment.

The approved bill defines a gang as “a group which consists of more than three persons where the main objective is to commit crimes”.

According to the new law, any person identified as the leader of such a gang shall be imprisoned for two to seven years.

By a word a person says or by an act a person commits, or by any means if a person represents that he is a gang member, is now a crime according to the law and punishable with imprisonment for between six to 18 months.

Aiding or supplying a gang is also a crime under the law, with prison sentences up to seven years and fines of up to Rf500,000 (US$39,000).

Furthermore, any person who threatens a witness shall be imprisoned for six to 18 months, and any person who attacks a witness or is the cause of an attack on a witness shall be imprisoned for between three to seven years.

The law also states that planning to assault anybody is now a crime with a sentence of between six to 18 months jail, while actually assault is a sentence of between six to 12 years in jail.

Meanwhile, gang violence continues Male’ with an 18 year-old in intensive care are he was stabbed at 11:45pm last night.

A 16-year-old boy was also stabbed on Thursday night.

The gang crimes bill, submitted in August last year, effectively criminalises gang activities by banning membership and recruiting, and criminalising financial support. It will now be a crime to take over a street corner or paint logos of your gang, while the recently ratified anti-social behaviour bill imposes a curfew of 11:00pm on minors while children under 16 cannot go out without a guardian after 9:00pm.

Police meanwhile insist that their operations are futile as long as sentences remain unenforced.

Following the murder of an 18-year-old in March 2009, the sixth gang-related murder in the capital since December 2007, Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh revealed that “over 500 convicts” were loose in society.

The army had to be deployed in Male’ in April 2008 after 15-year-old Shifau Ismail was killed. Another minor, Ahmed Shaneed, 15, was stabbed to death on the eve of the second round of presidential elections in October 2008.

In December 2008, Samir Abdul Mueen, 23, died after being stabbed multiple times by a group of assailants on motorbikes.

Faseeh argued that the system created repeat offenders when the majority of cases sent for prosecution did not result in convictions.

A young boy first arrested for stealing a bottle of Denim went on to become involved in the biggest case of theft in the capital while his previous cases were pending at the PG’s office, Faseeh revealed.

Another suspect involved in multiple cases of gang violence was arrested for assaulting a police officer, while six cases sent to the PG’s office had not reached court, Faseeh added.


Comment: We are criminals

The Maldives has the 10th highest prison population rate in the world and our society is set up to perpetuate this rate.

The victory in 2008 ushering in democracy has barely lessened the number of people incarcerated. It has not changed how we treat people who have gone to jail, nor the causes for which so many of our people lose their freedom. It has not made us reflect on the effect this is having on our society. And as a nation we will suffer for this together.

Culture promoting criminality

Before we won the election, politicians on my side of the divide could have claimed that many of the prisoners in jail were the result of political repression.

But the problem goes beyond politics. The problem is societal and the responsibility now falls on each and every one of us to change the direction we’ve been heading in.

The vast majority of those arrested have been sentenced on drug related charges. We have 30% of our youth falling into drugs like heroin, and we are surprised that crime is soaring. We are surprised when gang related violence escalates, and we are surprised that Male’ and islands around the country are no longer safe.

Male’ is now split up by the gangs controlling strictly monitored lines. They hijack each other’s cars and motorcycles and go after one another with whatever weapon they can get their hands on.

For all of us who have nothing to do with these gangs, we just ignore it. We turn a blind eye because that’s what we’ve been taught to do for 30 years.

But political commentary aside, we each let this happen. We live in a small community where everyone knows everything about everyone else. We know when our neighbor is arrested. We know why the boy down the street was taken to jail and why the police kicked down his friend’s door the week before.

But instead of helping them recover and reintegrate, we shun them. We ostracize them and say they are not worth our time. Instead of offering a helping hand, we kick them to the curb as the wasted undesirable elements of our society. But with the prison population so high, it is a large part of our society.

Our prison population rate is the 10th largest in the world, and this is without all the people who have not yet been sentenced. We need to help these people join the working ranks and support our nation to grow. We need to stop abusing them with our indifference, and we have to make it clear to our government institutions and those who work for them, that we will not tolerate abuse against inmates and promote true rehabilitation instead.


We as a society have to help with rehabilitation. I don’t mean drug rehabilitation. I mean we have to teach inmates how to function in society and how to be productive members of it. But the truth is that rehabilitation was never a part of our penitentiary services. In the past, the entire prison institution was based around repression, fear, and control of the unruly elements of our society. The new government is trying to change that and I’ve seen more change in the DPRS (Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Services) than in many of the other institutions, though even the DPRS has been subject to politically based manipulation by jailers, and not just by government sympathizers. However, what about all those people who have not yet been convicted?

These people are kept in police detention facilities. The same kind of facilities which have been responsible for custodial abuse reported recently. In addition to the kinds of abuse described by the inmates on DhiTV, there is a culture of brutality amongst the armed forces which needs to be addressed. Prisoners are constantly manhandled by their guards, whether they behave or not.

Further methods are used to ensure compliance and deal with unruly behavior. Amongst these methods are handcuffing inmates in difficult positions and leaving them for hours at a time under the hot sun, or if it is raining, leaving them out in the cold.

These are people who have not even been sentenced yet! Guilt has not been established. Due process has not been executed. And even if these people had been sentenced, they are still human beings and thereby extended inalienable rights; especially from torture. We suffered these kinds of abuses under the previous administration; it cannot be allowed to continue.


The attitudes within both the Police Service as well as the general populous need to be reformed. The Maldivian Police Service has made phenomenal improvement in how the deal with the citizenry, so there should be no reason why this cannot extend towards those members of society who are placed in their care.

We as society need to care about what happens to inmates. Without reform and true rehabilitation, we will never be able to progress as a nation.

We may have had a democratic election, but we still do not have a free society. The democracy monitoring international NGO, Freedom House, still ranks us as only partly free because of our apathy towards the prison population. We are such a small community.

We are all brothers, sisters, cousins, neighbors, and friends. We have no excuse to allow things to continue as they are. The shackles of tyranny still bind us. It’s time we start chipping away at these bindings, so that one day we will enjoy a free and stable society.

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