The Civil Service Commission (CSC) has suspended five high-ranking officials of the Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation (DPRS), pending an investigation into alleged multiple violations of the Civil Service Act by disclosing official information at a press conference.
CSC Chair Mohamed Fahmy Hassan confirmed that the Home Ministry was informed of the decision today.
DPRS Director Saud Abdul Kareem, Deputy Director Hassan Waheed, Assistant Superintendent Mohamed Asif, Asseyri Jail Senior Prison Officer Mohamed Tholal and Maafushi Jail Senior Prison Officer Ibrahim Nashid organised a press conference in their “personal capacity” on Sunday at the Trader’s Hotel.
The senior officials reportedly defended State Minister for Home Affairs Mohamed ‘Monaza’ Naeem, who is currently in charge of the department. The DRPS officials refuted claims in a petition submitted to the Home Minister alleging misconduct and abuses of power by Naeem.
In the petition, which was not signed ostensibly over fears of job security, Naeem was accused of using state vehicles for personal use and accompanying government officials and MPs on visits to jails.
The DPRS senior staff however claimed that department employees were not involved in drafting or submitting the petition, suggesting a hidden agenda behind the petition.
Local media reported this week that a complaint had been filed at the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) alleging that Naeem did not sign the attendance books either during his time at North Central Province Office or currently at the DPRS.
Meanwhile at Sunday’s press conference, DPRS Director Saud also defended Naeem from serious issues flagged in a compliance audit report recently made public by the CSC. Saud argued that the problems identified in the report dated from before Naeem took over from former Director General Mohamed Rasheed.
Based on the findings of the compliance audit, Rasheed was given a three-month notice and suspended by the CSC pending an investigation.
The senior officials revealed at the press conference that complaints of corruption under Rasheed were lodged at the Human Rights Commission, CSC and ACC.
A day after the press conference, the CSC issued a press statement noting that according to article 28(b) of the Civil Service Act a civil servant could not disclose information about the office or its employees learned in his or her official capacity.
The statement noted that civil service regulations specified procedures for civil servants to file complaints of legal violations or abuse of authority at the CSC.
Moreover, clause 17(a) of the regulations “stated in clear language that employees could not attend to personal matters during official hours.”
“If an employee is dissatisfied regarding a matter in his area of work, it must be solved in the way the regulations specify,” the CSC statement reads.
In addition, clause 26(g) of the regulations states that civil servants shall not defend the interests of a political appointee.
The statement contended that the press conference, which took place during official hours, was held in violation of both the Civil Service Act and civil servant’s code of conduct as well as “principles of a democratic society”.