Police deployed during opposition protest demanding the release of former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom. Dhauru Photo/Muzayyin Nazim

Custodial cells full; police say no resolution from govt

When contacted, the police officially said they were facing a lot of challenges in terms of space to lock up people.

5 March 2023

By Aminath Shifleen

Atoll Times has discovered that the custodial space for those detained by the police has been filled up and things have reached a point where even the person arrested from the streets have to be released.

A person accused of a crime will be lodged in the police custodial jail after the remand is granted. Similar cells exist in Male and K. Dhoonidhoo. After the verdict is pronounced, guilty persons will be transferred to K. Himmafushi or K. Maafushi prison.

A senior police officer told Atoll Times that after the current government came into power, in the name of building new cells, home minister Imran Abdullah had demolished many of the cells of the police's custodial jail. These cells were old, but they were still usable, and the officer said that the home minister had not continued work on building new.

"We have taken up the issue with the minister several times. But we could not do much to find a solution to the problem," said the officer, who did not wish to be named in the news.

He said that many convicts are also lodged in police remand jails due to lack of space in prisons overseen by the correctional service. There is not much space now to be used for police, the officer said.

"The point where this has gone is that even if people are caught on the road, we have to release them. There is no space in Male prison or Dhoonidhoo prison to accommodate them now," the officer said.

He said he was aware that those detained by the police being released the next day was a growing concern among the public, but it was not because the police were not doing their duty. They needed to have the right resources to ensure that they are able to perform their duties in the best possible manner, he said.

When contacted, the police officially said they were facing a lot of challenges in terms of space to lock up people.

"There are situations where the custodial space of the police is filled up," a police spokesman said when asked about the it. 

He said that the concerned departments of the police are making arrangements for the detention of those involved in crimes in cases where they need to be locked up.

Home ministry did not respond to several requests for comment.