Closed Hearing on Jail Torture Concludes

The Ombudsperson’s Office for Transitional Justice (OTJ) has concluded today the first round of closed hearings on complaints about human rights violations, inhuman treatment and torture in Maldivian prisons that occurred from 1st January 1953 to 17th November 2018.

A special ceremony was held at K. Maafushi Prison today morning to mark the conclusion of the hearing. Speaking at the ceremony, Chief Ombudsperson, Al-Ustaz Abdul Salaam Arif said that the staff of OTJ have worked tirelessly in K. Maafushi Prison for the past one week to find out the truth about an important issue of public interest, and thanked the staff for their hard work and determination.

“Although these hearings are concluded today, we can only consider this work successful if we can ascertain the truth of this matter in the light of this hearing and make sound proposals to the relevant state institutions to guarantee non-recurrence of such acts in the future”, the Chief Ombudsperson said.

Additionally, Chief Ombudsperson expressed his gratitude to the Maldives Correctional Service and K. Maafushi Prison for their assistance and cooperation in the execution of the closed hearing.

Speaking at the ceremony, Ombudsperson, Al-Ustazah Jihada Anis, said that a lot of work has been done to prepare for the closed hearing and that she hopes to achieve a positive outcome in the light of the closed hearing.

A total of 24 statements were taken at the closed hearing carried out from 26th February 2023 to 4th March 2023, and victim support was provided to all 24 testifiers before and after the hearing. Additionally, in light of the pre-meetings conducted by the OTJ in connection with the closed hearing, 09 individuals who require psychosocial support were identified. The Victim Support Consultant of OTJ met with these 07 of these individuals to conduct psychosocial support sessions. The Victim Support Consultant also recommended external referral as 04 of the persons who testified at these hearings were in need of further psychological assistance.

The OTJ has also decided to hold further hearings in the city of Male’ on the human rights violations and inhuman treatment and torture in the prisons of Maldives. These hearings will examine the extent of systematic deliberate actions at various stages of arrest and detention within the jurisdiction of OTJ, including deprivation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and torture.

Additionally, these hearings will provide the opportunity for the complainants as well as others who have experienced such incidents to participate in the hearings and gather information. The identification of other factors surrounding the issues will also consider compliance with domestic laws, rules and regulations to guarantee human rights and fundamental freedoms as enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of the Maldives and to prohibit acts of torture, as well as international treaties to which the country is adhered to.