Prison conditions generally met international standards, and the government permitted visits by independent human rights observers. The Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Services (DPRS) oversees the operation of three prison facilities and one remand center: Maafushi Prison, Asseryi Prison, Male Prison, and Male Remand. Male Prison and Male Remand are located in the capital city, and the other prisons are located on separate islands within a one-hour boat ride from the capital city. The DPRS incarcerates only convicted prisoners. After the ratification of the constitution, pretrial detainees were held separately from convicted prisoners. Detention facilities were located on Dhoonidhoo Island and Maafushi Island. Women are held separately from men in Maafushi Prison and guarded by female prison officers. Conditions in the women’s area of the prison were similar to those in the men’s area, although there were fewer female inmates per cell.
Juveniles awaiting sentencing are held in a juvenile correctional facility on Feydhoofinolhu Island until their cases are heard. Most convicted juveniles are held under house arrest because there are no juvenile pretrial detention centers in the country.
The DPRS prison system has an estimated capacity of 765 prisoners, and the total prison population was 822. Of this population, 787 were men and 35 were women. Drug offenders accounted for 66 percent of the prison population, of which approximately 70 percent were incarcerated for drug use and 1 percent for drug possession.
The government generally permitted regular prison visits by the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and other international assessment teams. The UN Development Program (UNDP) published a prison assessment in September, for which they interviewed 60 percent of the prison population. Major complaints included a lack of structured programs, use of torture and inhumane treatment, discrimination towards foreign prisoners, politicians providing false hope in return for participation in riots and protests, a lack of segregation according to crime or discipline, and the availability of drugs inside prison. The UNDP report noted that prisons lacked qualified personnel, adequate educational facilities, vocational guidance, and drug rehabilitation programs. The report noted the need to pass the penal code, criminal procedure code, evidence bill, drugs bill, and prison and parole bill as a matter of urgency, noting that in the absence of these bills, the existing legislative framework would not support the human rights guaranteed under the constitution.
In its 2010 annual report, the ICRC stated that it visited detainees at six detention facilities and shared its findings and recommendations confidentially with authorities. The ICRC reported that the organization would phase out prison visits because there were no longer security-related prisoners.
The National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) established by the HRCM monitors any death or other allegations related to prisons or prison authorities. The HRCM maintains a Web site in which reports on occasional jail visits, other human rights investigations, and annual reports were available.
During the year the NPM visited nine police custodial centers: Male Police Custodial, three island police stations, Dhoonidhoo Police Custodial immigration detention centers in Male and Hulhumale, Male Prison, and a Correctional Training Center for Children in Feydhoofinolhu. After a visit to Dhoonidhoo Police Custodial in February, the NPM observed that conditions had improved from 2010. Prisoners had access to potable water. Nonetheless, it reported complaints of harsh disciplinary punishment and humiliating security checks. It also noted that the sanitary conditions in the cells were unsatisfactory. The NPM recommended that police conduct human rights training or refresher courses for officers, allow detainees in solitary confinement out of the cell for a walk every few days, establish a mechanism to expedite investigation and trial, and build a separate unit for juvenile detainees. The NPM also visited a home for people with special needs, a drug rehabilitation center in Himmafushi, an education and training center for children, and the orphanage in Villingili.
The NPM makes a visit plan a year ahead, conducts visits throughout the year according to this plan, and publishes an annual report of its findings. During the year, however, the NPM decided not to make full detention reports available to the public. It now publishes a short summary of each visit and sends the full detention report to the president, parliament, and other relevant offices.
In order to reduce overcrowding at Maafushi Prison, the government built a new wing for 300 persons, and prisoners were transferred to the facility in late 2010. The DPRS implemented a Second Chance Program as an alternative sentencing program to decriminalize minor drug offenses and focus on rehabilitation. The DPRS reported that it had a database. recordkeeping system, and adequate communication between the prisons and headquarters and between the DPRS and Maldives Police Service (MPS).