The deplorable condition of prisons in the Maldives is an escalating national crisis.
The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) has recently concluded its investigation into Abdulla Rasheed, an elderly inmate who died in prison.
Rasheed was jailed for his participation in the May Day protest in 2015, the largest anti-government rally ever held in the Maldives.
While he was to remain imprisoned until February 2019, he died in October 2017 while being treated at the Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital. According to the death certificate, he died from hypovolemic shock due to upper gastrointestinal bleeding.
His wife has accused the Maldives Correctional Service of negligence for failing prove him with the necessary medical treatment.
The human rights commission has requested the Prosecutor General to raise charges against some individuals for negligence over Rasheed’s death.
Also, in March, Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) filed a complaint to the Maldives Medical and Dental Council after receiving information that an unregistered doctor was treating Rasheed in prison. But this has been denied by the correctional service.
Another detainee, Ibrahim Rasheed, who was arrested at the May Day rally, was reportedly severely ill on Thursday. His illness has not yet been diagnosed, but his attorney has confirmed that there are bruises on his body.
But the government has ignored the outcries over the many suspicious deaths reported inside the prisons, sometimes seeking to punish those who speak out, as is the case of MP Ahmed Mahloof.
The representative of South-Galolhu constituency, who has been in and out of prisons numerous times, is being charged over a tweet he made accusing authorities of killing prisoners by not providing them with the necessary medical treatment. In the tweet, he highlighted that it was a serious issue that over 10 prisoners have died in recent years.
The authorities’ unwillingness to take care of its detainees can also be seen in the deteriorating health of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom- who ruled the nation for 30 years. The elderly opposition leader who has been remanded for the duration of his trial on terrorism charges has been unable to attend his trial hearings due to his poor health.
The Joint Opposition parties have called for his release, noting that negligence in providing him with adequate medical attention is worsening his condition. But authorities have refused to even transfer the country's. and Asia's, longest-serving leader to house arrest.
Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed, who was also jailed at the same time as Maumoon, has begun taking medication for a mental condition. Hameed was also rushed to the hospital from his sentence hearing on Wednesday over difficulty breathing.
Former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb, who is suffering from glaucoma since being sentenced to prison over terrorism, is being barred from receiving treatment abroad as advised by doctors. The government has stated that he is a flight risk but has so far not providing any permanent solutions to his eye condition locally. His family has said that Adeeb’s peripheral vision has drastically reduced and he is at risk of going blind.
It is becoming apparent that the victims of medical negligence in prisons are mainly political opponents. This could mean that the government, while being responsible for the medical care of detainees, is deliberately ignoring their medical conditions for its own political motives. The only logical solution is a change in the administration.