Human Rights and Gender Committee has stated that the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) had decided to not look into 10 cases of harm involving children in state care.
HRCM’s yearly report on anti-torture was discussed at Wednesday’s committee meeting.
At the meeting, the committee highlighted the 10 cases involving the psychological harm of 22 children under state care. Committee chair Jeehan Mahmood said that that the cases are regarding children at the Children’s Shelter, Fiyavathi orphanage, and GDh. Children’s Service Center allegedly being abused by employees.
She said that one of the cases accuses eight employees of violating Article 14(a) of the Anti-Torture Act, which involves forcefully stripping people in public, and that HRCM’s report cites the difficulty in obtaining as the reason for not pursuing the case.
HRCM member Naiveen Abdulla said that they had begun the investigation and later, on the recommendation of the Prosecutor General, conducted a joint investigation with the police service due to the difficulty in obtaining evidence. She said that the reason why they could not obtain evidence was that the children refused to talk to them and that they decided not to pursue the case after the police service had completed their investigation and sent the case for prosecution.
Committee Chair Jeehan said that HRCM could have obtained evidence by conducting assessments on the children, to check for trauma.
Also highlighting six cases that HRCM halted mid-investigation, Jeehan asked whether they had any legal authority to stop an investigation if it becomes a criminal case. HRCM members defended their actions but failed to point to any legal ground which allowed them to stop their investigations.
The committee also criticized HRCM for failing to address the human rights abuses committed by the previous administration.