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More allegations of torture in Maldives
Maldives Culture report
February 2002

Maldivian prisoner of conscience, businessman Ibrahim Luthfee has allegedly been tortured at National Security Services' headquarters in Male', according to informed sources within the Maldivian administration.

Luthfee and five other prisoners were the subject of an Amnesty International campaign alert on 11 February 2002.

Government sources say Luthfee was taken to a hidden NSS interrogation chamber that is notorious for turning 'innocents' into 'criminals' within a matter of hours. Confessions are considered 'automatic' when people are taken to that cell, they said.


'Students, slaves, and servants who are brought up with injustice and tyrannical force are overcome by it. It makes them feel oppressed and causes them to lose their energy. It makes them lazy and induces them to lie and be insincere. That is, their outward behaviour differs from what they are thinking, because they are afraid that they will have to suffer tyrannical treatment (if they tell the truth).

Thus, they are taught deceit and trickery... they fall short of their potentialities and do not reach the limit of their humanity. As a result, they revert to the stage of 'the lowest of the low'.

That is what happened to every nation that fell under the yoke of tyranny and learned through it the meaning of injustice.'

The Muqaddimah - An Introduction to History
by Ibn Khaldun writing in 1377
translated from Arabic to English 1958


Torture has a long and ignoble history in the Maldives. Ibn Battuta introduced the barbaric practice of amputation to the Male' law court during the 14th century, and writers since that time have often commented on the passionless brutality of Maldivian militias and police.

The most public use of Maldivian torture occurred during the 1930s in the Male' law courts presided over by Hussein Salahuddheen (known for his bowdlerised version of the Bodu Thakurufaan story). Not for him the niceties of a 'hidden' interrogation chamber. He thought torture should be done openly in the court room to protect its dignity and integrity.

Torture has been used regularly in the last twenty years by the Maldives National Security Service which only acts under the direct orders of the President or his Ministers. For many years, Amnesty International has questioned the Gayyoom government about the use of torture and arbitary political imprisonment. The official Maldivian response has been to describe all these matters as fabrications and lies.

Nobody believes these denials and the torture continues. Below is a description of some of the torture practices commonly used in the Maldives... But first, a word from President Maumoon Gayyoom:

Email from the President's Office
20 February 2002
'The President says the paramount policy of the Government will remain to defend the sovereignty and independence of the nation, protect and preserve the Islamic faith and the unity of the people, safeguard the rule of law, and pursue inclusive development.'


Torture techniques in Maldives
from Maldives Royal Family website

Solitary confinement by itself or together with one or more of the following methods of torture. Most solitary confinement cells are made of corrugated iron with barely enough room to move the body. There is no room to lie down. In the sun, the temperatures in these cells could exceed 40 degrees Celsius.

Handcuffing for extended periods, which may last months. Handcuffs are used to cuff together all four limbs in all imaginable permutations and combinations.

Putting in stocks: The victim is restrained with his or her ankles and wrists locked in tiny holes in a block of wood. The victim remains bent and does not have the use of his/her hands when eating. Defecation and urination is done on the spot and the victim remains with his or her own human waste for days on end. Victims of the stocks almost invariably suffer from spinal conditions for life, if they survive this ordeal.

Hanging by the arms, legs, fingers and toes.

Using a bulldozer to haul the cuffed victim on top of a sand dune about 2-3 metres high and letting him roll down on a base of sharp stone chips. This procedure is carried out repeatedly for hours on end.

Electric shock. In most cases, the victim is made to stand on a sheet of corrugated iron and low voltage electricity is applied. (This is a common method used for premeditated murder)

Gang rape of women prisoners. Sometimes other women inmates are forced to watch this in order to inflict psychological torture on them. (Those who have been forced to watch this are known to have hung themselves)

Urinating and defecating on victims. Very senior personnel in attendance usually carry this out while the victim is undergoing another method of torture.

"Mounting on the angle": The victim's arms are passed backwards through the vertical bars (about 60 cm apart) of the vent above the door in a prison cell. The wrists are then tightly handcuffed. The body is left dangling for hours at a time. The victim almost invariably has both shoulders and/or elbows dislocated during this exercise.

Indiscriminate beating. Often officials wearing military-style boots stomp on the victim. (In one well-documented case, a 17 year old youth was beaten up on the spinal area, in the interrogation room. He was paralysed for life.)

Lashed to trees in front of cell blocks. Female victims are left in various degrees of nakedness.

Forcing detainees to stand on a chair for hours with arms outstretched and a heavy object in each palm.

Made to squat on the toes, with a length of timber between the upper and lower legs, tightly tucked behind the knee. The weight of the body results in the dislocation of the knee by a slow process.

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