Recidivism not improved, number of reoffenders still high: Transparency Maldives

Maafushi Jail | Photo: Maximus Films

Malé, Maldives – Recidivism among detainees serving prison sentences for criminal offences in the Maldives has not improved, and the rate of reoffending is high, reveals study.

The study, which was conducted by Transparency Maldives, in collaboration with the Home Ministry titled “Situational Analysis of the pathways to social reintegration for offenders and drug-dependent persons in the Maldives”, was carried out to understand the current pathways to social reintegration, and recommendations to facilitate effective social reintegration for adult and juvenile offenders and drug dependent persons.

It specifically focused on developing a situation analysis on the current policy and practice of reintegration in the Maldives, with special focus on mapping;

  • Description of offender reintegration laws and policies in the Maldives
  • Legal and regulatory challenges and obstacles that may prevent inter-agency cooperation or the provision of effective supervision and assistance to adult and juvenile offenders in prisons and juvenile detention centres
  • The extent to which Maldives meets relevant international standards and norms in the treatment of prisoners and prison management
  • Social, economic and personal challenges adult and juvenile offenders and drug- dependent persons confront that tend to become obstacles to their social reintegration
  • Social reintegration programs currently available for offenders and special categories of offenders: children in conflict with the law, women offenders, offenders with drug use disorders, prisoners released after extended periods of pretrial detention, violent offenders and members of criminal gangs
  • Effectiveness of existing reintegration programs providing adult and juvenile offenders and drug-dependent persons with the assistance they need to desist from crime, to successfully reintegrate into community, and to avoid relapse into criminal behaviour
  • The challenges in accessing existing social integration programs

Among the findings of the study, one main issue highlighted was the occurrence of re-offence of individuals who a reintegrated into society after completing their sentences. However, the report also highlighted that considering the lack of proper record keeping, the true gravity of the situation is unknown.

Maldives Corrections Service also reiterated that the number of repeat offenders is high, with the same sentiment shared by Maldives Police, Home Ministry and the Juvenile Justice Department, adding that often times those who commit small offences return having had committed bigger crimes.

Maldives Police Service said that those arrested for small offences are mostly those in crime due to substance abuse and that they are stuck in the situation owing to the criminal record in their name which results in lack of job opportunities and also accounting for the poor quality of societal reintegration programs currently in place.

Another significant issue the report shed light on is the weak regulations pertaining to parole and clemency (also known as the Presidential pardon). The study found that it is common for those released on parole to be found in violation of the parole terms, landing them back in prison.

According to Corrections out of 800 individuals who were granted clemency between the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, 50 percent are currently back in jail. Similarly, 22 percent of the 77 individuals who were released on parole in 2014 went back to jail.

A main reason for this, as stated in the report, is the release of individuals without proper checks, and specially as it is done for politically motivated reasons ahead of elections.

In addition to this, the report also discussed administrative and document keeping issues pertaining to requests of inmates, the lack of proper follow up of those released from prison and also, radicalisation of inmates as well as overcrowding and unavailability of basic necessities.