In a series of controversial decisions leading up to the presidential election, President Ibrahim's administration has released a significant number of convicts back into the community. This includes 23 in August alone, followed by 25 the previous month, under the Remission and Remission of Sentence Act.
Among those released are individuals convicted of grave offenses including drug trafficking, murder, and child sexual abuse. The method of release varied, with some having their sentences commuted, resulting in shortened jail terms, while others were pardoned. A notable portion of those convicted of child sexual abuse were sent back to the community under house arrest.
The number of major criminals in detention has seen a sharp decrease during President Ibrahim's tenure. A senior official at the home ministry, speaking anonymously, revealed to The Maldives Journal that only a handful of drug lords jailed during this period remain incarcerated. Most have either had their sentences reduced or were pardoned and subsequently released.
Such moves, especially with the presidential election looming, have raised eyebrows. Home Minister Imran Abdullah is reportedly working with the legal teams of the Correctional Services and the Home Ministry to amend regulations, allowing for the easier transfer of detainees to their homes. This is perceived by many as an effort to boost support for President Ibrahim in the upcoming elections.
Since taking office, President Ibrahim has pardoned or acquitted over 600 convicts. However, in a move that further clouds the issue, the President's Office has declined to provide details on these cases, even when requested under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. An official from the Attorney General's Office, also wishing to remain anonymous, told The Maldives Journal that the secrecy is largely due to the high number of serious offenders, including drug traffickers and child abusers, among those released.
This series of releases, combined with the lack of transparency, has sparked concerns about public safety and the potential political motivations behind such decisions. As the country gears up for the elections, the repercussions of these actions and their impact on public trust remain to be seen.