The Majlis government accountability committee requires more time to determine possible state negligence regarding the death of three-year-old Mohamed Ibthihaal last week.
Committee member Rozaina Adam said that the committee first received documents and reports from the state institutions regarding the case when arriving at today’s sitting.
“The reports were not emailed to committee members before the sitting,” said Rozaina. “We had to read them while at the committee so we did not have adequate time to map out a course of action according to the contents of the documents”.
The Maldivian Democratic Party MP noted that the report sent by the police did not include any information relating to Ibthihaal before his death, only detailing the actions by the service afterwards.
“We have no choice but to ask representatives from police to come and clarify the information to the committee,” she said.
Local authorities and the police and gender ministry were both aware of the abuse prior to the child’s death, the island council has revealed, though the government has assured that Ibthihaal was in a safe environment when officials last visited the island.
However, Rozaina noted today that the Ministry of Law and Gender has no documents to substantiate these claims.
“The gender ministry says they handed the child over to a relative, but they have no records of doing so and the relative denies having been handed over guardianship. There are documents and forms that need to be filled if gender assigns guardianship of a child to another person,” said the Addu-Meedhoo MP.
Rozaina also accused pro-government MPs of hampering the investigation, stating they “do not want to reveal any information that might find the government guilty of negligence”.
She also accused committee chair Riyaz Rasheed of conducting today’s sitting in violation of the Majlis’ rules of procedure by refusing to allow members of the press to witness proceedings.
Responding to these claims, Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Riyaz said that neither a motion to hold a closed door session nor an open one was proposed by any member, with the meeting adjourned before any such deliberations were made.
“At first I did not let media personnel inside the meeting room as some of the institutions requested their reports and documents be kept confidential, and before any committee member proposed to hold a closed door meeting or an open one, I ended the committee as most members requested further time to analyse the documents,” Riyaz stated.
The Vilifushi MP also said that the committee members would receive until next week to analyse the documents, after which he would schedule a sitting to proceed with the issue further.
Documents regarding Ibthihaal were requested from Rakeedhoo Island Council, the Maldives Police Services, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, the Ministry of Law and Gender, and the Family Protection Unit.
Multiple investigations into potential state negligence have begun after the authorities’ prior knowledge of the abuse became apparent.
Meanwhile, the 26-year-old mother of the child, Afiya Mohamed, was arrested in the afternoon hours of January 30, with media reporting that Rakeedhoo Magistrates Court had remanded her for 15 days.
Ibthihaal’s two siblings are currently in the care of family members, local authorities have said.
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