PAC to make impromptu visits to prisons

An aerial shot of Dhoonidhoo Prison. (Photo/Google)

The Prison Audit Commission has announced it plans to make impromptu visits to Maldivian prisons and detention facilities to investigate treatment of inmates.

PAC – established by Ministry of Home Affairs on December 18, 2018 – is tasked with assessing the current conditions of Maldivian prisons, identifying areas which need reform, and compiling a report – based on which the Ministry of Home Affairs has promised to reform Maldivian prisons and ensure inmates their fundamental rights.

Speaking during a press briefing by PAC this Thursday, commission member Ahmed Abdul Kareem said PAC will conduct its work in four phases.

Ahmed said the first phase – discussions with relevant State agencies to gain cooperation and collect data – is now complete.

He said the commission will hold additional meetings if the need for additional information arises.

During the second phase – the commission will research all relevant laws, regulations and international accords. And study how similar prison audits are conducted by other countries.

The third phase is opening the opportunity for public to send in information regarding prison conditions and treatment of inmates at Maldivian prisons. PAC opened the opportunity for information from the public last Wednesday. The opportunity will remain open to the public until the end of January 10.

Speaking during the press briefing this Thursday, commission member Shahindha Ismail said PAC will also meet with inmates mistreated in prisons and their family members as part of its work during the third phase.

But she stressed the purpose of the commission was not to run investigations.

“The information obtained via this method will be used reinforce the findings that are made. We are running investigations based on complaints,” said Shahindha.

The fourth phase of the commission’s work is to visit prisons and ensure inmates are provided their fundamental rights.

Ahmed said the commission will inspect the food provided at prisons, assess the prisons for overcrowding, and check the quality of healthcare and level of hygiene.  

“We have decided we will make impromptu visits,” said Ahmed.

Areas PAC will assess in compliance with international standards for prisons, deaths of inmates, reasons for delays in healthcare, treatment of inmates, and identify methods for rehabilitation of inmates released from prisons.

Ahmed said the PAC will also assess the resources of Maldives Correctional Service and how the agency’s staff deal with inmates.

An audit of Maldivian prisons and detention facilities is part of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s 100-Day Agenda.