Minor arrested in connection with July murder of 31 year-old man

Police have arrested a minor in connection with the murder of Ahmed Nizar, 31, of Woodland House in Gan, Laamu Atoll, who was killed on July 14, 2013.

In a statement issued today police said the minor was arrested on Saturday August 10 after an arrest warrant was obtained from the court.

Police had previously arrested five persons in connection with the case.

On July 15 police arrested a 21 year-old man while a 22 year-old man was arrested on July 17. Two other men aged 26 and 22 were also arrested in connection with the case.

Police said the court had extended the suspects’ pretrial detention period to 15 days and they have been brought Male’ for investigation.

The Police Serious and Organized Crime Department and Laamu Gan Police Station are investigating the case, police said.

Ahmed Nizar was attacked in the early hours of July 14 while he was travelling to Gan from Kahdhoo, after receiving some football jerseys from the Kahdhoo Post Office.

At the time police said the investigation had revealed that Nizar was attacked with wooden planks and iron bars. Police recovered the murder weapons.

A special team of police were deployed to Gan to investigate the murder. Police said the victim had no record of criminal activity.

The attack on Nizar is the second murder on Gan this year. On March 14 , a 51 year-old man was attacked with an axe while he was sleeping in a house. He died shortly after the attack having suffered serious head injuries.


PG presses terrorism charges against alleged Sultan Park bomber

The Prosecutor General (PG)’s office has pressed terrorism charges against Abdul Latheef Ibrahim, of Love Side house on the island of Gan in Laamu Atoll, for his alleged involvement in detonating a home-made IED (improvised explosive device) outside Sultan Park in September 2007.

Local media reported the first hearing of the case today, during which Abdul Latheef told the court that he wished to know the evidence against him, and requested time to appoint a lawyer.

The judge told Abdul Latheef that the state would produce evidence after he appointed a lawyer, and concluded the hearing.

On August 8, 2012, Abdul Latheef was arrested upon his arrival to the Maldives on a flight from Pakistan. He was one of 16 men against whom terrorism charges had been filed in relation to the bombing. Ten of these men fled the country, while three were sentenced to an initial 15 years before having their sentences commuted to three year suspended sentences.

The bomb blast in Sultan Park – a tourist attraction in the capital located in front of the Islamic Centre – consisted of a washing machine motor attached to a gas cylinder, and was triggered using a mobile phone.

The attack injured 12 tourists, including eight from China, two from Britain and two from Japan. The incident received widespread publicity around the world, damaging the country’s image as a luxury tourism destination.

The attack meanwhile prompted the authorities to declare a state of emergency and arrest 12 suspects within 48 hours.

Three men – Mohamed Sobah, 19, Moosa Inaz, 21, and Ahmed Naseer, 20 – were sentenced to 15 years imprisonment in December 2007 after they confessed to the crime.

In August 2010, the former administration commuted the sentences of Ahmed Naseer and Mohamed Sobah from incarceration to three year suspended sentences under observation.

The bomb blast was the first bombing incident in the country.


Group murders 31 year-old man on Gan in Laamu Atoll

A group of men have murdered a 31 year-old man on the island of Gan in Laamu Atoll.

The police issued a statement today identifying the victim as Ahmed Nizar of Woodland house on Gan.

Police said the case was reported at 2:22am last night. Police attended the scene and discovered the body, which was at Gan Regional Hospital.

According to police, the doctors pronounced Nizar dead at the time he was brought to the hospital.

Police reported that Nizar was attacked while he was travelling to Gan from Kahdhoo, after receiving some football jerseys from the Kahdhoo Post Office.

The police investigation had revealed that Nizar was attacked with wooden planks and iron bars, police said, stating that they had recovered the murder weapons.

A special team of police have been deployed to Gan to investigate the murder. Police said the victim had no record of criminal activity.

A police spokesperson confirmed that one man had been arrested in connection with the murder.

Gan Island Councilor Abdulla Sulaiman told Minivan News that Nizar was attacked while he was in the company of two of his friends.

“He was with two other friends and as they reached an uninhabited area along Mukuri Magu, five men, three of whom were wearing masks, appeared on the road and attacked him,’’ Abdulla said. “They hit him in the head with an iron bar and he fell to the ground, and then they hit him a second time.”

Sulaiman said one of the five attackers then approached the victim, realised Nizar was not the person they had intended to attack, and said “Hey, I am really sorry bro.”

Sulaiman alleged the attack was related to the theft of a 20 litre bottle of homemade alcohol brewed on the island.

The attack on Nizar is the second murder on Gan this year. On March 14 this year, a 51 year-old man was attacked with an axe while he was sleeping in a house. He died shortly after the attack having suffered serious head injuries.

A source from the island at the time alleged the man was attacked for having an affair with a woman living in the house he was sleeping in.


Maldives facing widespread child prostitution, sexual abuse: clinical psychologist

Additional reporting by Ahmed Naish

Child prostitution in Laamu Atoll has become so “common” the underage victims of such crimes consider it “normal”, a private clinical psychologist has revealed to Minivan News.

The practice, believed by multiple sources interviewed by Minivan News to be prevalent across the Maldives, ranges from male benefactors grooming children with ‘gifts’ to parents actively selling the sexual services of their children – some as young as 12.

Acknowledgement of “systemic” child sexual abuse in the Maldives, particularly prostitution, remains highly taboo, with few government institutions willing to confront the problem.

Minister of Gender, Family and Human Rights Azima Shukoor made the first official acknowledgement of the practice in a statement to mark Children’s Day on May 10.

“The abuse of children is on the rise. Children being used as sex workers, where the children are sent to places as a means to pleasure people and to gain an income from such a trade. This is being practiced in the Maldives today. Both boys and girls are being used in this trade,” she stated.

Consultant Clinical Psychologist Maldives Institute for Psychological Services, Training & Research (MIPSTAR), Dr Aishath Ali Naaz, conducts psychological profiling of sexual abuse victims, as well as preventative awareness workshops, and recently completed a study focusing on Laamu Atoll.

She explained that child prostitution has become so common among minors that it is considered a normal activity, with victims even boasting about their sexual exploits at school.

“When many people do something it’s not [considered] wrong anymore. In some atolls I’ve seen this, especially in Laamu Atoll. It’s not accepted by the whole population but [it is] among the young people,” she told Minivan News.

“The children say in class ‘So you do it, you do it too, and so on, so what’s the big deal?’” Dr Naaz explained. “Some children have accepted this as something normal and as a way of life.”

Child prostitution is considered a type of sexual abuse because victims are minors under 18 years-old.

“It’s not just incest, which is happening, because in my practice I have come across cases of close relatives [who] have pushed children into prostitution,” Dr Naaz said. “Children as young as 12 or 13 years-old have been forced to partake in sexual activities,” explained Dr Naaz.

“This is sexual abuse, but people are not aware that there is sometimes monetary gain for somebody,” she added.

“Child prostitution is happening in a very subtle way. Most of the time there is an adult who is pushing the child; it may be a parent or a relative who is pimping the child,” said Dr Naaz.

Hidden in plain sight

Two cases of child prostitution in Laamu Atoll have been reported to police so far in 2012, a police source familiar with the incidents told Minivan News, on condition of anonymity.

The cases were “isolated, very difficult to [investigate]”, and there did not appear to be gang involvement or organised child prostitution ‘rings’, the source explained. The victims of child prostitution in the atoll were “typically 16 or 17 years-old”.

An island council official in Laamu Atoll told Minivan News child prostitution was resorted to by the “poorest of the poor” as a means to earn money to “fulfill basic needs of living.”

Child sexual abuse and incest occurring within some families has led to the practice being passed down through multiple generations, a civil society source researching the matter explained to Minivan News.

This history of sexual abuse has been exacerbated by overcrowding in homes following relocations after the 2004 tsunami, which in combination with severe economic hardship has led to the exploitation of children via prostitution.

During a visit to Laamu Atoll, Minivan News spoke to 51 year-old former atoll chief Abdul Wahhab Abdulla about the practice in the atoll.

Wahhab served as island chief of Gan for 25 years, atoll chief from 2008 to 2010, and was director general at the national administrative office of the South Central Province from 2011 to March 2012. He was subsequently demoted to island council director after March 2012.

Reported cases of child prostitution in the atoll were “very rare”, Wahhab said, “perhaps one case a year.”

There have been cases of middle aged or elderly men providing financial support to young girls for basic necessities “and then taking advantage of the position [of benefactor],” he explained.

“It is less child prostitution than sexual abuse,” he  continued. “I think it started after the tsunami after affected people from Mundhoo and Kalaidhoo [islands] migrated here.”

There were about four such cases of sexual abuse reported a year, he said.

In the past, Wahhab explained, island communities were smaller and people knew each other very well, making it difficult to hide crimes such as prostitution.

Reported cases typically involved low income families “with four or five children”, he said, with adolescent girls aged 16-17 often targeted.

“The children have basic needs that are not being fulfilled, so the elderly man will first gain the child’s trust with small gifts,” he explained.

“At that point he becomes her benefactor. Then he gets closer and tries to take advantage of the girl. And the girl does not have the capacity or courage to resist,” he said.

The gender department and police child and family protection services had attended to reported cases promptly, he added.

Atoll sex behaviour survey suppressed

In 2010, the gender department conducted a biological behaviour survey in Laamu Atoll focusing on child sexual abuse, homosexuality and drug use, explained the former atoll chief.

The results of the survey – which were never made public – suggested that the incidence of child abuse and homosexuality were much higher than previously expected, according to Wahhab.

The survey did not distinguish that child prostitution was occurring in Laamu Atoll at the time, he added.

Systemic exploitation nationwide

While children prostitution is more pronounced in some atolls than others, it is “a systemic problem” across the country and remains “a very, very hidden activity,” Dr Naaz explained.

The almost 10,000 participants of her sexual abuse and violence prevention workshops over the past two years had expressed particular concern that child sexual abuse, including child prostitution – is “a common problem”.

Communities from the far north to the south of the Maldives – including Male’, Haa Dhaal, Raa, Lhaviyani, and Addu Atolls – have also been affected, she said.

“People quite frequently talk about child sexual abuse, but we are not comfortable facing the finer details of this reality,” said Dr Naaz.

It was a misconception to think that Maldivians were not involved in the child sex trade, as it was “hidden and difficult to capture,” she said.

“There are people who are using young Maldivian girls in this trade, but it may not be happening at a guest house,” she explained.

Instead, this sexual exploitation occurs “more on [the victim’s] own familiar ground, in rooms and houses”, making it difficult for the authorities to identify cases, collect evidence and intervene.

The involvement of young boys in child prostitution “cannot be ruled out”, however the practice “may be even more hidden”, she added.

Children are being forced to cater to both Maldivians and expatriate workers, she said, however the rates varied with Maldivians paying upwards of MVR 700 (US$45.60) while foreigners such as Bangladeshi labourers paid MVR 150 (US$9.77) “for sexual everything”, explained Dr Naaz.

“These girls have described that the people who pay for sex with them are often very young – 21 to 25 years-old – but sometimes include elderly people,” she continued, noting that the practice had increased in the past decade.

Sophisticated industry in Male’

In the capital Male’, child prostitution has reached a “sophisticated level” and encompasses different types of sexual abuse, explained Dr Naaz, with an even split between families pimping out their children for economic gain versus gangs facilitating the trade for girls suffering from substance abuse problems.

Rather than being gang-led phenomenon, families struggling to make ends meet and economic hardship had led to the rise of a generally ad hoc child sex industry.

“There are instances where family members may hire a room for rent, keep the children in there, and then use them to generate money through sexual activity so they can support their stay in Male’,” explained Dr Naaz.

“Many times the parent, uncle or sibling may be involved in drug abuse and in order to get money they introduce the children to the trade,” said Dr Naaz. “On the other hand, you have people deliberately using and recruiting young girls into this and involving them in sex.”

“Sometimes – and I don’t want to put the on blame them, because it’s not every gang – there are youth groups who may keep a few girls whom they pimp.”

She also highlighted instances of mentally disabled children being abused for sexual activities by adults.

“They’re vulnerable so they’re not able to protect themselves,” she said.

Other cases were said to involve groups of women renting rooms in Male’ and “recruiting vulnerable young people who may not have their parents [in the city],” she explained. In some cases,  young girls with intellectual impairments “are taken in by these groups of women.”

She identified a “gradual process” of minors being “groomed” by adults via the internet and/or social media, with children taken to known “spots” and introduced to those involved in the sex trade.

In other instances, the minors are pushed to provide nude photos, and then emotionally blackmailed with threats that the pictures will be posted on the web, and ultimately recruited into prostitution.

“In Male’, there have [also] been instances where a parent gets angry and tells the child to get out on the street, with the child picked up by somebody [because they are] in a helpless state,” said Dr Naaz. “Then they are taken to a guest house and used for prostitution, group sex and things like that.”

A school health counselor in Male’, who claimed to have encountered numerous cases of child prostitution, said poverty was one of the root causes of the abuse in Male.

“Mostly cases involve single parents – mums and dads – who come from the islands and try to survive in Male’,” said the counselor. “Cases where the mom lives in a guest house and facilitates prostitution for the whole family are common in Male’.”

In one specific instance, a student in Grade 7 (aged 12-13) and her sister were earning money from prostitution and giving the earnings to the family, with the parent’s knowledge, the source said.

“Children are [also] trafficked to the islands from Male’. The gender ministry cannot do anything regarding the kids because this happens at the family level and at the school level. They have no authority to say anything and are neglecting the issue,” the source alleged.

A civil society source currently investigating the practice told Minivan News that underage girls were being “groomed” by “benefactors” in Male’ and then sexually abused by the same men, which included both Maldivians and foreign nationals. The source said it is common to see teenage or adolescent girls with older men who were trying to buy sexual favors at particular shops in Male’ at the beginning of the month, around payday.

After being lured into prostitution, the children were then taken by some men to neighboring countries to engage in sexual acts, added the source.

Generations of damage

Some of the children exploited by the sex trade seek help, but the condition they are in is “very very sad”, lamented Dr Naaz. “It’s unbelievable for the Maldives.”

“Sometimes they are psychotic, mentally retarded, and they are the victims of rape, gang rape, group sex… and the child feels ‘I have no choice but to be there’ because their intellectual capacity is not [developed enough] to address that. They don’t have the skills [to get out of the situation],” she explained.

Some children also showed symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases and were being advised to seek testing and treatment, she added.

A comprehensive study is needed to determine exactly how many children are affected by this type of sexual abuse, emphasised Dr Naaz.

“I don’t think we would be different from most other societies, but the exact percentage we should determine from good research that determines the root causes,” she said.

While the exact root causes behind child prostitution – and other forms of sexual abuse – in the Maldives still need to be determined, there are some factors in addition to economic hardship that may be contributing to the practice.

“Many times Maldivians are living in very crowded environments in households where they are exposed to adult sexual activities and children learn, children get to know,” Dr Naaz speculated. “So the environment in which we are living could be one factor.”

Furthermore, “in the Maldives girls start having boyfriends at a very young age, grade 5 or 6, which is quite early. It seems more like people are indulging in sexual activities at a very young age,” she explained. “Sometimes these boyfriends may be on drugs and these boys may also be recruiting the girls into sexual activities. Young girls need to be very careful so they don’t get pushed into this.”

Children’s rights violated

Children are not aware of their rights and are not being taught or given opportunities to develop the proper social skills to protect themselves from attempted sexual abuse, including child prostitution, multiple sources emphasised to Minivan News.

“Young people should know their body is theirs and that nobody has a right to violate it. No one – no one – can violate it and there are other ways to earn money,” said Dr Naaz.

“We have to tell young people it’s not alright if your aunt [or anyone] says ‘go to that room with this boy’. Children need to be taught that this is wrong, that these are their rights that are being violated,” she emphasised. “Sometimes children don’t know this, or that they have the right to report [abuse].”

“Parents have a huge role to play, we have to monitor where our children are going. If they’re missing for long hours, we need to know where they are, and whether someone is abusing the freedom their parents have given them,” she continued.

“The child is a minor, so they may not be able to say no if they get pushed into this,” she added.

A ‘Happy Star’ program, created by Dr Naaz, details how parents can communicate to their children – in a language appropriate to children – to improve awareness about the dangers of being lured or forced into child prostitution.

She emphasised that relevant programs must be developed to protect children and teach them about their rights.

“There is a general erosion of values. People don’t seem to know where to set their limits or draw the line. We need to get back to our old values,” she said.

“When a young boy is going to school saying ‘I can’t even say my mum is not doing it, my mum is sleeping with my friend’, that reflects an erosion of values,” she said.

The civil society source investigating the practice of prostitution among young people emphasised that parents and children are “not prepared to deal with these things”.

In addition to no effective sexual education taking place, “There is also no social education occurring and when children get older they rebel because they are not given the chance to be children – instead they are forced to take tuition from age four instead of having play time,” said the source.

“There are parents trying to bring up good kids, but the victims drag other children into their bad behavior,” the source continued.

“We are neglecting the issue, making it worse because no one is dealing with these things. Hiding the issue encourages the practice to continue,” the source declared.

“This has to come out and we have to think ‘out of the box’ to stop the root causes – not just do the same things over and over,” the source added.

Authorities, government uncooperative

The Maldives Police Service had not responded to an emailed series of questions at time of press.

Meanwhile, despite stating earlier this year that the abuse and neglect of children had reached “alarming levels“, the Gender Ministry failed to respond to multiple enquiries from Minivan News regarding child prostitution over the course of this investigation.

Further interviews arranged with relevant authorities in Laamu Atoll were curtailed by the Ministry in Male, with Minivan News ordered to submit a formal letter of enquiry to the office in Male’ requesting authorisation for its staff to speak.

Minivan News submitted such a letter to the Ministry on June 16 seeking “all relevant information regarding the occurrence of child prostitution” in Laamu Atoll and nationwide, as well as a copy of the Laamu Atoll survey conducted in 2010. At time of press, the Ministry had made no response.

Minivan News also contacted Minister of Gender, Family, and Human Rights Azima Shukoor, who did not respond to calls or text messages.

State Minister Dr Aishath Rameela was also not responding to calls at time of press. Minivan News attended her office to set up an appointment directly on Wednesday (June 19), but was informed by Dr Rameela’s secretary that she was unavailable for interview because she was “very busy”.

Victims or suspected victims of sexual abuse, including child prostitution, in Laamu Atoll, can reach the Hadhdhunmathi Family and Children Service Centre on Fonadhoo Island via 771-1721 ,or by calling the Maldives Police Services at 119.

Additionally, a 24 hour toll-free Maldives Child Helpline is available on 1412.


51 year-old man dies in hospital after axe attack

A 51 year-old man has died in hospital after he was attacked with an axe while sleeping in a house on Gan in Laamu Atoll on Tuesday night.

Mohamed Hassan failed to survive the injuries he received during the attack and died on Wednesday evening.

IGMH Spokesperson Zeenath Ali Habeeb told local media that the man died last night at 11:25 am while being treated in the intensive care unit.

Mohamed Hassan was hit on the right side of his head which caused serious injuries to his skull, and his condition was too critical to transfer him abroad for further treatment.

The Laamu Gan Regional Hospital Manager told local media that the victim’s nose and ears were bleeding continuously when he was admitted to hospital.

Police Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News that police have arrested one person in connection with the case. Haneef said that the victim was hit in the head with a sharp object.

‘’The investigation is ongoing and has become more serious now because the victim has died,’’ he said.

According to a source from the island, the man who was attacked was having an affair with a woman living in the house he was sleeping in.

The source said one of the woman’s sons was arrested in connection with the case.


Laamu Atoll councilors dismiss JP’s claims they had joined the party

Two councilors from Laamu Atoll have expressed concern over business tycoon MP Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP) falsely announcing they had joined the party.

During a rally held last Friday on Gan in in Laamu Atoll, the JP announced that Laamu Atoll Councilor Mumthaz Fahmy, Laamu Atoll Kunahandhoo Island Councilor Lirgam Saeed and several others had joined the party during a membership drive.

However, both councilors denied the claims saying they never had any interest in joining the party.

Speaking to local media, Mumthaz Fahmy – who is also a member of Local Government Authority (LGA) – said although he welcomed Gasim’s contribution to the country, he had not decided to join the JP or support Gasim’s presidential campaign.

“When they announced that I was to join the party, I left the rally. I condemn the act of announcing my name,” he told local media outlet Sun Online.

When Fahmy did now show up on stage, JP Vice President Ameen Ibrahim told the media that due to travel difficulties, some of the “new members were unable to join the rally”.

“I took part in the rally following an invitation by Gasim Ibrahim. I never joined or planned to join the party,” Fahmy said.

Laamu Atoll Kunahandhoo Island Councilor Lirgam Saeed made similar comments.

“Even though I was in Gan, I did not even attend the rally. I have not decided to join the party. I was very disappointed when they announced my name without my consent,” Saeed said.

Ahmed Hussain, a key activist of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) in the region, also claimed that despite his name being announced, he had never intended to join the JP.

“I have always been behind President Gayoom. Since the formation of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and later PPM, I have been like that. I condemn JP’s act of announcing my name,” he said.

Hussain also said that JP announced the names of several other people who had not joined the JP.

Hussain further said that he plans to sue JP for their “fraudulent announcement” of names from PPM members when they had no knowledge of such an announcement.

“They have to accept that they have committed a wrong and they should apologise. Due to this, people have questioned my sincerity, therefore I plan to consult with senior people of PPM and take the matter to court,” he added.

Meanwhile local newspaper Haveeru reported that former national football team member Shamweel Gasim’s name was included in the JP’s membership list without his knowledge.

“When I checked with elections commission I came to know I was listed as a member of JP. But I have never joined the party. I have never even thought of doing so,” Shamweel was quoted in Haveeru.

“I am really surprised. My name should not be in a party list unless I signed up to join,” he added.

However, Vice President of JP Ameen denied the allegations claiming that the party had announced names of people who had promised to join the party.

“We announced a list of people who gave their word to us. That included those who had already joined the party and those who were planning to join,” he told Haveeru.

“When the rally concluded, some people came and complained to us for not mentioning their names during the rally. A large number of people have joined the party and others agreed to join the party,” he said.

Responding to the allegations, JP Spokesperson Moosa Rameez said that they had not deceived anyone and the announcement of councilors’ names who had not joined the party was an “error made by the party secretariat” while compiling the list.

Rameez said the list was compiled from names of councilors and other people who had given word that they would join Jumhoree party.

“During our trip to Laamu Atoll, a minimum of 25 councilors joined our party. I think the problem came up with two names. It is an error made by the person who had compiled the list,” he explained.

According to Rameez, the party has already sent apologies to the councilors who had expressed their disappointment and he said the party was willing to apologise in the future as well.

“I don’t think we can bring anyone to our party by force. It was a genuine mistake. Anybody can make one. Even in universities, sometimes there are mistakes made in printing certificates. Such mistakes happen with GCE O’level certificates too,” he added.


Heavy rain damages agriculture fields in three atolls

Agriculture fields in Haa Alif Baarah, Gaaf Alif Nilandhoo and all islands of Laamu Atoll have been damaged in the heavy rainfall experienced across the country.

Local daily Haveeru reported today that 90 percent of farmland in Laamu Atoll was “destroyed” by the rain.

Laamu Atoll Council Chair Mohamed Rasheed told the newspaper that 80 percent of farmers in the atoll would cease to have a source of income. Farmers in the southern atoll earn a monthly average income of between MVR20,000 to MVR30,000, Rasheed said.

He added that the rain also damaged some homes, including 29 households in Fonadhoo.

Of the 11 inhabited islands in Laamu atoll, only three reported no damages, Rasheed said.

Moreover, as a result of damage to a sewerage pump in the island of Gan, waste was spreading into the island from two junctions.

The rains that started on Monday evening lasted non-stop until Tuesday night, he said.

Meanwhile, Nilandhoo Councillor Asif Mohamed told Sun Online that 280 fields in the island have been completely destroyed.

Heavy rains meanwhile flooded agriculture fields in Haa Alif Baarah.

Baarah Councillor Hussain Fahmy told Haveeru that floodwaters have not receded from the farmlands as of this afternoon. Heavy rains continued to fall last night, he said.

Damage to wooden stoves was also causing difficulties for islanders, the councilor added.


President pledges “special attention” to developing smaller communities

President Mohamed Waheed Hassan visited Laamu Atoll yesterday claiming his government will work with small island populations across the country to address local development issues.

Speaking yesterday on Gaadhoo, the president said he regretted that a senior government official was not thought to have travelled to the island community in “several years” and pledged to provide special attention to similar destinations with smaller populations in the future.

“We must visit the islands and see for ourselves the well-being of our people. It is our duty to fulfil the needs of the people as much as possible,” Waheed was quoted as saying in a President’s Office statement.

Waheed added that challenges remained in ensuring that basic services are provided to islands with even very small populations, but pledged to ensure that any development decision was made “democratically, through consultation with the people.”


President surveys schools, sewerage and courts in Laamu Atoll

President Mohamed Nasheed today met with Isdhoo Island Council while visiting the island, one of several stops on his tour of Laamu Atoll.

Among the topics addressed was improving educational standards by making the island school a single-session school.

The President also discussed linking Isdhoo and nearby Dhanbidhoo with a causeway, and inspected the island’s health centre, school and the construction site of the magistrate court.

Today, the President also launched the Fonadhoo Sewerage System.

This evening, islanders are invited to the presentation “Kolhumadulu Hadhdhunmathi – Tharaqqee ge Kulavaru” on Gan island, which intends to inform the people of the government’s plans for atoll development.

The Laamu tour is scheduled to include meetings with the local island councils and the opening of a mid-market resort and diving village on Gan.