Transparency Maldives (TM) has called on authorities to expedite the investigation into the death while in custody of Mohamed Jameel and the end to the practice of arbitrary detention. Jameel, aged 45, passed away in Maafushi Prison on 28 June. He was laid to rest on Saturday.

Jameel was placed in custody for the duration of his trial for attempted assault. He had also been reportedly undergoing psychological treatment at the time of his death.

“This incident necessitates an immediate and thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death in order to ensure transparency and accountability in our prison system,” the organisation said in a statement.

Despite Jameel’s serious mental conditions, Transparency Maldives noted that he was incarcerated rather than receiving mental healthcare. The organisation also stressed the importance of ensuring that all detainees receive medical care without discrimination.

The 2023 Annual Report of the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) showed that 231 complaints were submitted by people in prisons regarding the health services provided to them, including delays in getting the required medicine, follow-ups, and care from specialised doctors.

In the statement, Transparency Maldives also called on relevant authorities to end the practice of arbitrary detention. “Indefinite or arbitrary detention goes against key principles of international human rights law and denies detainees essential basic human rights,” the statement reads.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention observed during their visit in 2021 that pre-trial detainees constitute nearly 30 percent of those currently held in detention facilities across the country.

The Working Group also noted that while authorities report the average time spent in pre-trial detention according to the authorities is about 1.5 years, it is widespread for people to be in pre-trial detention for 3-4 years and even longer.

“This practice is incompatible with the obligations under Article 9 of the ICCPR,” Transparency Maldives said.

The organisation also called on the HRCM to conduct an independent investigation into the death of Jameel to ascertain whether there were any infringements of rights and liberties provided to detainees in this matter and hold those responsible for any potential malpractices, negligence, or mistreatment to account.