Police prepare to begin performing autopsies in Maldives

Pathologist Inspector of Police, Dr. Hassan Umar | Photo: Maldives Police Service

Male’, Maldives – Maldives Police Service has revealed that the institution, with the newly vested authority by the amendments brought to the Criminal Procedure Act, is preparing to begin performing autopsies in the Maldives.

According to the third amendment brought to the Criminal Procedure Act, which was ratified on 22nd September 2020, Maldives Police Service has been granted the power to carry out autopsies even without the consent of relatives of the deceased. However, the law does require that the procedure be performed under the supervision of a medical doctor, with the assistance of a forensic pathologist.

Detailing the scope, an article published by Maldives Police Service read that the institution has been working on performing autopsies in the country for the past five years, and that with the changes brought to the law, efforts have been revived into making it a reality. It was also added that the forensic department of Maldives Police Service has been working on formulating relevant regulations with regards to the matter, as early as the beginning of the year 2020.

One main officer working on the case, is Dr. Hassan Umar, who joined the force some 12 years ago, as a Pathologist Inspector of Police, who works on cases pertaining to death. According to Dr. Umar, many cases of deaths often go unsolved as to the true cause of death, due to the lack of autopsy options in the country, and that this is a vital aspect in proving such cases in a court of law.

Since autopsies cannot be performed, the actual cause of death is not identified. We can tell that the person has died. And generally identify the cause of death. In an autopsy, one thing we look for is what initially caused the death. What happened at first. Death is followed after a chain of reactions which originate from the initial cause. Specially in criminal cases, this is one main aspect which has to be proved in court.

Dr. Hassan Umar, Pathologist Inspector, Maldives Police Service

Dr. Umar also highlighted that with recent technological advancements, the necessity to cut open a body in order to perform an autopsy has now been decreased, as it is possible to do so virtually as well. He went on to explain that technology such as CT scans would allow to carry out virtual autopsies and that cutting open a body is only done on a need basis, and that this is the direction towards which his team and he are working.

So far, only few autopsies have been carried out regarding deaths in the Maldives, for which, bodies had to be sent abroad for the procedure. Unlike now, the law at the time required authorities to gain approval from the next of kin, in order to perform the autopsy as well.