State staff charged in Ibthihaal murder ‘a warning to authorities’

The iconic photograph of three-year-old Mohamed Ibthihaal who was beaten to death by his mother after repeated abuse. PHOTO: ASAD PHOTOGRAPHY

The iconic photograph of three-year-old Mohamed Ibthihaal who was beaten to death by his mother after repeated abuse. PHOTO: ASAD PHOTOGRAPHY

The recent decision to prosecute five employees of state institutions in connection to the murder of Mohamed Ibthihaal, the three-year old boy who was found beaten to death by his mother, is a development that serves as a strong warning to staff of state institutions, say certain people.

Mohamed Ibthihaal was found dead in their home in Vaavu atoll Rakeedhoo island with signs of severe physical abuse in January 2015. The authorities had been made aware of the ongoing abuse, but following his death at the hands of his mother, Afiya Mohamed, before any actions were taken to protect the child, state institutions have faced harsh criticism of negligence.

Afiya’s trials are still ongoing. She has admitted several times in court to the abuse and admitted to her charges of first degree murder with a gruesomely detail confession, describing how she had strangled, punched and kicked her three-year-old sleeping child when she came home on that fateful day. Afiya had said she hated her son as he was born out of wedlock.

Two years after Ibthihaal was found dead, the Prosecutor General’s Office forwarded charges against five employees of state institutions, indicting them for negligence in a child abuse case. The five people are:

  • Lisaan Aboobakr of Baa atoll Eydhafushi island – acting Commander of Maldives Police Northern Station designated to Vaavu atoll
  • Aminatha Shiyaza of Vaavu atoll Fulidhoo island – a staff of the Ministry of Gender and Family at the time of the case
  • Ahmed Shuzadh of Gaafu Dhaal atoll Fiyori island – a staff of the Ministry of Gender and Family at the time of the case
  • Mohamed Rasheed of Gaafu Alif atoll Dhevadhoo island – current staff of Ministry of Gender and Family
  • Mohamed Shakeeb of Faafu atoll Feeali island – current staff of Ministry of Gender and Family
Afiya pictured with her son Ibthihaal.

Afiya pictured with her son Ibthihaal.

This marks the first time the state has pressed criminal offence charges against staff of state institutions for negligence. Previously, only administrative level actions were taken against government employees in such cases. Hence, several people are of the opinion that the decision to prosecute the staff this time is a major step taken to hold the authorities accountable for their responsibilities and failings.

Excluding Lisaan, all the others are charged with the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, Child Protection Act and Subject 88/D of the Penal Code.

Lisaan is charged with Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, Child Protection Act and Police Constitution.

Subject 88 of the Penal Code regards the disobedience to a legal order or an order of Islamic law. The section D states that if a person loses their life due to such an issue, the penalty is the same as stated in Islamic law.

The charges were forwarded to the court after the results of the investigation conducted by the Human Rights Commission on order of the then Prosecutor General.

Negligence on Shuzadh’s part in the case had also been proven by the Gender Ministry’s internal investigation earlier and he was consequently fired from his position. The Employment Tribunal had later ruled that his negligence was not proven and ordered his reemployment. However, he no longer serves at the ministry.

Meanwhile, the people are describing the indictment of the five staff as a major development for the Maldives. They declare it is not only a step to bring justice for Ibthihaal, but to hold state institutions and authorities more accountable in the future and thus ensure greater security of children’s rights and protection.

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