2003 Report by the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Theo van Boven


838. By letter dated 2 September 2002, the Special Rapporteur advised the Government that he had received follow-up information on the following individual cases.

839. Mohamed Nasheed, an outspoken Parliamentarian advocating reforms in Parliament, on whose behalf the Special Rapporteur on torture and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression had intervened on 29 October 2001 (E/CN.4/2002/76/Add.1, para. 946), reportedly continued to be held incommunicado in Malé police station until 31 October 2001 when he was finally allowed to meet a relative for 45 minutes. He was reportedly kept in an underground cell without natural light. During his detention he was allegedly not permitted to consult with, or engage the services of, a lawyer. On 8 November 2001, he was allegedly taken to court. Following a short trial lasting only two hours, he was reportedly found guilty of the theft of unspecified “government property” and sentenced to be banished for two-anda- half years to a remote atoll. At the High Court, he was said to have been allowed the services of a lawyer but his lawyer was not permitted to represent him in court. He was allegedly transferred to house arrest in Malé on 23 June 2002. His arrest was believed to have been politically motivated.

840. By letter dated 28 February 2002, the Government responded to the urgent appeal previously transmitted on his behalf 29 October 2001. The Government indicated that his trial had been conducted in open court in accordance with due process with the law and that the sentence had not been different from the sentences of the court in cases involving similar circumstances. The Government further informed that he had appealed to the High Court.

841. The Special Rapporteur has received further information regarding Mohamed Zaki, aged 50, Ibrahim Moosa Luthfee, Ahmad Didi, and Fathimath Nisreen (f). The Special Rapporteur on Torture, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the Chairman- Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention had already intervened on behalf of Mohamed Zaki and Ibrahim Luthfee on 12 February 2002 (see below). Ahmed Ibrahim Didi was reportedly arrested on 31 January 2002 at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, Sri Lanka, by Sri Lankan Interpol officers, and taken back to Malé. He was reportedly about to board a plane to Bangkok where he was going for medical treatment for a heart problem. Fathimath Nisreen, personal secretary to Ibrahim Luthfee, was reportedly arrested without warrant from the offices of “Viuga” in Malé on 1 February 2002, also by police from the National Security Service. All four were reportedly arrested because of their alleged involvement in writing and contributing to an Internet bulletin called Sandhaanu, which carries articles deemed critical of the government. They were reportedly taken to Malé Police Headquarters where they were held in solitary confinement for two weeks. They were then said to have been transferred to Dhoonidhoo detention centre, a small island approximately five kilometres from Malé. They were allegedly not permitted visits from relatives or friends while detained at Dhoonidhoo. The detainees were reportedly brought to the criminal court in Malé for the first time on 29 May 2002. They were reportedly charged with “committing acts that were hostile to the government” and “defamation”. It was reported that at no time were the detainees allowed to be represented by a lawyer. On 26 June Ahmed Didi and Fathimath Nisreen were reportedly transfe rred to an island prison called Mafushi. Mohamed Zaki and Ibrahim Luthfee were transferred to Mafushi prison on 27 June. At Mafushi prison, they were reportedly kept in solitary confinement, in cells measuring 4 x 4 feet and had to sleep on the concrete floor on a piece of plywood. They were said not to have been permitted visits from family members. On 7 July 2002, all four detainees were reportedly brought back to court in Malé. Mohamad Zaki, Ibrahim Luthfee and Ahmad Didi were said to have been sentenced to life imprisonment on the charges of insulting the President and his government, trying to overthrow the government by calling out to the people to come forward and fight, causing hatred in the people’s minds towards the government by forming the above-mentioned newsletter, spreading false news and for forwarding the Sandhaanu newsletter to others through email. Fathimath Nisreen was reportedly sentenced to ten year’s imprisonment on charges of writing false information, expressing her dissatisfaction with the government’s policies, trying to overthrow the government by calling out to the people to come forward and fight, and of supporting the Sandhaanu originators. The four detainees were reportedly returned to Mafushi island prison where facilities were reported to be very basic and the prisoners reportedly had to sleep on a concrete floor. 842. By letter dated 1 December 2002, the Government responded that they had been tried in an open and fair trial and in due process of law. The Government further informed the Special Rapporteur that they had been found guilty by the Criminal Court of the Republic of the Maldives of having engaged in unlawful, illegal and subversive activities against the lawfully elected government, defamation and other criminal offences. According to the Government, none of them was ill- treated nor was anyone of them denied any rights granted under the Constitution and the national legislation.

Urgent appeals

843. On 12 February 2002, the Special Rapporteur sent a joint urgent appeal with the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression and the Chairman- Rapporteur of the Working Group on arbitrary detention on behalf of three businessmen, Mohamed Zaki, Ismail Zaki and Ibrahim Luthfee, and Naushad Waheed (see above). All the above-named, except Ibrahim Luthfee whose whereabouts were unknown, were believed to be held incommunicado at Dhoonidhoo detention centre.

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small logo   This report has been published by Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights on August 2, 2005.