Maldives Correctional Service (MCS) has inaugurated the Juvenile Detention Centre at Asseyri Prison to house offending juveniles.
The Centre was inaugurated by chief guest Minister of Home Affairs Honourable Sheikh Imran Abdulla at a ceremony held today at the Asseyri Prison. The ceremony was also attended by Prosecutor General Uz Hussain Shameem, Minister of State for Home Affairs Ali Nazeer, Commissioner of Prisons Ahmed Mohamed Fulhu, Chief Justice of Juvenile Court Uz Hassan Saeed Ibrahim, President of the Himmafushi Council, Commissioned Officers and invitees.
The newly-inaugurated Juvenile Detention Centre was built as per the conditions mandated by the Juvenile Justice Act and the Minimum Standard for the Treatment of Prisoners (Mandela Rules) of United Nations.
The Centre consists of eight cells with a capacity to house two juveniles.
A total of 16 prison officers have been trained for this Centre, though seven officers will be on active duty. These prison officers were given training on Juvenile Justice Act, the Minimum Standard for the Treatment of Prisoners (Mandela Rules) of United Nations, The Child Rights Protection Act, international conventions on children’s rights (Beijing, Bangkok convention), how to communicate with children/juveniles, individual learning and international best practices.
The juveniles housed in the Centre will have unrestricted learning opportunities as per their ages. Also, in order to provide them mental support; they will have psychiatric and counselling sessions as well as Islamic counselling and life skills sessions.
While speaking at the ceremony, Minister of Home Affairs Honourable Sheikh Imran Abdulla stated that today marks an important step towards an appropriate solution for the issue of offending juveniles in Maldives. While the Centre opens today, the result of the efforts of the Centre will be contingent on the efforts of five important government institutions that are interconnected in various ways, the Minister said. He spoke about his wish to see the Maldivian society as a low-crime or crime-free society; in particular with a low rate of offending juveniles. The Minister said that each community could have their cast offs from the societal standards, and Islam also teaches to keep that in mind while communicating with them. He also stated that the officers who work at the Centre should be more patient and sincere than average people, while also working to save the juveniles from the negative qualities they may possess, reform them into people who are deemed acceptable by their families and society by communicating with them and teaching them good behavior.
Commissioner of Prisons Ahmed Mohamed Fulhu stated that the inauguration of the Juvenile Detention Centre is the start of an important work tasked to Maldives Correctional Service by the Juvenile Justice Act; and an addition to the responsibility of managing the prisons and rehabilitating inmates over the past 50 years. Today marks the official acceptance of the task to operate a centre in addition to the prisons and with the conception of Juvenile Justice Act; the responsibilities mandated in the afore-mentioned Act is through a completely separate system to that of the Prisons and Parole Act and calls for actions towards juveniles via conditions with “best interests” of juveniles in mind, hence the establishment of the new Centre, said the Commissioner.
The Commissioner noted that the project of the Juvenile Detention Centre was initiated through the 2019 budget of Maldives Correctional Service and an approximate amount of MVR 3.5 million was spent on the project along with many sacrifices from prison officers of Asseyri Prison and a huge contribution of many inmates. He also stated that prison officers have been appointed to the Centre as mandated by the law and even though they are being provided relevant trainings, additional trainings and skills are required and in future, the operations of MCS will be shaped to provide professional guidance, instructions and training to the prison officers who actively work at the Centre. Commissioner Ahmed Mohamed Fulhu thanked the hardworking prison officers and inmates of Asseyri Prison as well as previous staff and commissioners for their valuable support. In addition, he also thanked Prison Cooperative Society, UNICEF Maldives for their contribution and also thanked Himmafushi Council and School for providing educational support to the juveniles previously housed at Asseyri Prison.