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Page added on July 4, 2012

Home minister blames Second Chance rehab scheme for crime “surge”

Home minister blames Second Chance rehab scheme for crime “surge” thumbnail

Home Minister Dr Ahmed Jameel has blamed a current “surge” in crime partly on the Second Chance rehabilitation programme run by the former government, which he alleged released prisoners, sometimes with “heavy sentences”, for political purposes.

After telling local media this week that over 200 convicted criminals released under the scheme has been returned to prison over allegedly having re-offended, Dr Jameel pledged more former Second Chance inmates deemed or suspected as posing “a danger to the public” would be returned to custody.

The now-defunct Second Chance initiative has received significant media coverage this week after a former inmate released under the programme, 29 year-old male Ahmed Murrath, confessed to the murder of prominent lawyer Ahmed Najeeb in Male’.

However, the former manager of the initiative, Aishath Rasheed, has claimed she was surprised at reports of a large number of inmates released under Second Chance now being returned to prison. Speaking to Minivan News this week, Rasheed raised concerns about a lack of rehabilitation measures for young people imprisoned for smaller offences such as drug use in the country since the Second Chance programme was terminated.

Second Chance was established to help address concerns that a majority of the Maldives’ prison population were young people incarcerated for minor drug offences. Rasheed has maintained that the resulting long jail terms handed to young people – in some cases even over minor drugs offences – “were destroying their lives”.

According to the UNDP’s “Prison Assessment and Proposed Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Offenders Report”, which was published last year, 66 percent of all prisoners in the Maldives at the time of report were in jail for drug use or possession, often small quantities.

The majority were males under 30 years of age with education below O-levels, the report added, claiming the Maldivian prison population could be reduced by up to two-thirds if the government would “de-criminalise the offence of drug usage and propose mandatory rehabilitation”.

“Political advantage”

Home Minister Jameel has contended that the Second Chance initiative had been set up by former President Mohamed Nasheed “without a legal basis or justification”, in an attempt to pick and choose convicts for release on the basis of their political allegiance.

“Nothing prevents me to take back to prison all those released under the Second Chance programme found committing further offences for the safety and security of our people,” he said. “I have abolished Second Chance after assuming this [Home Ministry] portfolio to prevent ‘undue political advantage by convicts in the correctional system’ which was the policy of the Nasheed Government. I intend to take back all dangerous criminals back to prison as part of process to make our home and streets safe.”

Jameel added that the country’s legal system already included mechanisms by which prisoners could obtain early release under certain circumstances.  He claimed these legal mechanisms had been negated by the Second Chance initiative.

The mechanisms include clemency, which was provided under the Law on Reduction of Punishment and Clemency and considered only under “exceptional circumstances”, according to Jameel. He added that applicants for this mechanism were required to be reviewed by a specially established clemency board.

A second method to obtain early release is provided in the form of a parole programme overseen by a multi-sectoral board that decides on the eligibility of each candidate.

“Both of these programmes were abandoned to directly pick and select convicts from prison for Second Chance,” claimed Jameel. “Indiscriminate release of convicts without regard to the nature of the offences and selecting convicts based on their political association and belief demonstrates the underlying purpose of the Second Chance programme. Not only one or two of those released has been caught again for committing further offences, but several arrests made to regards to serious offences found second chance convicts.”

When contacted by Minivan News about the number of prisoners released under Second Chance that had since been returned to custody, the Maldives Police Service said it could not confirm a figure at the time, forwarding the enquiry to Home Minster Jameel.

The home minister said that “more than 200″ people released under the programme were believed to have re-offended.

The Second Chance programme was stopped back in February directly following the controversial transfer of power that brought Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s coalition government to power.

The Home Minister claimed back in March that a total of 1879 criminals were incarcerated for various offences during Nasheed’s term, but only 621 remained in prisons while 1258 have been released with no clear procedure.

After shutting down Second Chance in February, the programme’s responsibilities were instead tasked to the Parole Board and Clemency Board, which were re-formed in the intervening weeks.

However, both boards have been criticised in recent years for being “slow and ineffective”, by Second Chance’s former manager Aishath Rasheed, who claimed to be “very much surprised” about reports of the number of prisoners released under the programme now being returned to jail.

An estimated 439 inmates were released during the life-time of the Second Chance imitative, each of whom were said to be thoroughly evaluated and approved by the courts, according to Rasheed. Any former inmate found to have violated the terms of the release were sent back to the prison to complete their jail term. She added that the 439 inmates released under the scheme were mostly young people held on minor drug offences.

Verification

Rasheed, also a former member of the country’s parole board until resigning after the new government came to power, claimed that she had first heard about possible cases of prisoners released under the Second Chance committing criminal acts back in March. She stressed that it was therefore important to verify whether the suspected offenders were in fact released under the scheme and if they had been guilty of re-offending.

Beyond serving to secure an early conditional release for prisoners, Rasheed stressed that the programme was also designed to provide educational and rehabilitation programmes for inmates – initiatives that she claimed were not being provided at present.

“The idea was to give a chance to everyone in prison for rehabilitation, but the programme has been stopped, we had offered O-level training and spiritual classes,” she said. “However, within two days of Second Chance being finished they have stopped the O-level programmes and the yoga and spiritual classes. We had very technical and experienced instructors for these programmes, but I’m not sure they have been replaced by anything.”

Rasheed claimed that in closing down the programme, Home Minister Jameel had not looked at the programme and its respective benefits – a model used in many other countries to rehabilitate prisoners.

“In Singapore and New Zealand for example, there are very productive Second Chance-style programmes,” she said. “Due to the structure of our Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Service (DPRS) we were only just starting out with these type of rehabilitation programmes.”

Speaking to Minivan News in March, Rasheed claimed that the Parole and Clemency board “did not have the technical expertise to continue the program”.

“I was a member of the parole board. Both boards exist as mere names. Some members do go for the meetings but have to go back home because the meetings cannot be held due to lack of quorum,” Rasheed said at the time.

However, as of last month, a new parole board set up by President Waheed had begun assessing the eligibility of inmates for release after they had undergone months of rehabilitation programmes.

Parole and rehabilitation

Present Parole Board member and Spokesperson for the Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Service (DPRS) Bilal said that although the Second Chance programme had been terminated in February, prisoners would be still be eligible for potential parole and rehabilitation.

“The present government decided not to continue with Second Chance, there have been examples where prisoners had violated the conditions of their release and had been returned [to jail],” he said. “Second Chance as a programme was seen as a failure.”

Bilal claimed that the main functions of the Second Chance programme could still be met through the existing parole programme ran through the DRPS.

“Under parole, a prisoner under 25 for example must serve one third of their sentence, the parole board will then decide on the candidate’s release,” he said.

As of next month, Bilal claimed that a reintegration programme was being launched to help prisoners released on parole to acclimatise to life outside of prison for their first month back in society.  Vocational programmes in fields like electrical maintenance were also said by Bilal to currently be on offer at the detention centres of Maafushi and  Dhoonidhoo.

“We have planned to start basic education programmes soon as well as more advanced O-level courses. We are having meetings today with the Education Ministry on this,” he claimed. “We expect these programmes to be starting soon.”

Rehabilitative focus

Back in May, Lubna Mohamed Zahir Hussain, Minister of State for Health and Family saidthe upcoming establishment of a entirely new drug court in the country was indicative of a major shift in ongoing government policy over the last three years from a solely punitive approach to a more rehabilitative focus for minor offenders.

The Health Ministry insisted at the time that the new regulations provided distinct measures to assist small time drug abusers, while cracking down on larger-scale traffickers based in the Maldives and the wider South Asian region.

Hussain claimed that under this new legal and judicial system, the NDA was now looking to focus to rehabilitate prisoners found guilty of minor drug offences – something that had not been possible through the prison service previously.

“Seventy percent of prisoners currently being held in jails on drug offences have never been given treatment whilst they are incarcerated,” she claimed at the time.

Hussain added that recent amendments to national drug laws would compensate for the loss of rehabilitative programmes such as Second Chance – at least for minor drug offenders.

“The essence of the Second Chance programme is seen in the new drug law,” she said at the time.

Prison fears

Ali Adyb of the Journey NGO, which runs a drop-in centre in Male’ as well as outreach programmes across the country’s many atolls, told Minivan News earlier this year that he believed a long-term policy of criminalising drug users in the Maldives had failed, in part, because of a failure to segregate prisoners convicted of petty theft with more serious crimes.

“We are aware of people who have actually become addicted to drugs whilst in jail here,” he said.

Journey stressed that even for convicted addicts who were no longer being held in the country’s prison system, the stigma of having a criminal record for using narcotics led even qualified people to struggle to find a job upon their release.

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19 Comments on "Home minister blames Second Chance rehab scheme for crime “surge”"

  1. Lubna Ali on Wed, 4th Jul 2012 5:40 PM 

    When you have the biggest drug dealer as our police commissioner, the murders will go up, the drugs will be easily available. Let us change the leaders who must take responsibility.

  2. tsk tsk on Wed, 4th Jul 2012 6:32 PM 

    Continued migration to Male = Congestion = Battle for limited resources = Widespread poverty = Difficulties in providing education, health and employment to fast-expanding communities = Poor awareness/moral values/motivation/employment = Juvenile delinquency and drug abuse = Demand for illegal narcotics = Lucrative black-market trade = Tons of money = Capital for businesses and political parties = Influence.

  3. @lubna ali on Wed, 4th Jul 2012 6:50 PM 

    it takes a certain amount of sense to point fingers where it is due, Nasheed has done a lot for this country but this definitely was one of his greatest mistakes, I have lost someone close this year to one of these crimes as well

  4. Nazim on Wed, 4th Jul 2012 7:51 PM 

    This is a very complicated issue. Too easily we try and blame the ‘other’ political party for the crime rate.

  5. Junaidh on Thu, 5th Jul 2012 12:19 AM 

    I knew angry bird and the bagee media will be quick to use the ‘KEYWORD’Second Chance Rehab Scheme for the violence since it was reported in haveeru yesterday that, the man who killed lawyer Najeeb was from Second Chance Rehab Scheme. The real terror are the politicians running this government today

  6. Ahmed on Thu, 5th Jul 2012 1:32 AM 

    Do you think having the death penalty will be good for tourism and the image of the country??

    Do they have they have the death penalty in Mauritius and Seychelles? We will be behaving like Pakistan and Iran = not good for tourism! A disaster for human rights.

  7. Aru on Thu, 5th Jul 2012 1:33 AM 

    Under what conditions did his man confess???? Was it similar to Anni’s resignation???

  8. LOL on Thu, 5th Jul 2012 2:19 AM 

    @tsk tsk. Please stop visiting this website. You are such a pain in the a** !!

  9. Ahmed bin Addu bin Suvadheeb on Thu, 5th Jul 2012 6:12 AM 

    What’s the current population density of Male? There’s hardly breathing space in the God forsaken place. It’s the ideal place for all sorts of undesirables to operate in. When you have 0.15 million people living in less that 2 square miles of shanty town, it’s small wonder that the place has not gone up in smoke!

    Tear the place down and restart all over. Maybe, God will do that for us, anyway, with rising sea levels!

  10. SHLO NAIVE KIDH on Thu, 5th Jul 2012 7:48 AM 

    The first surge of crime was when Gayoom suddenly released a bunch of criminals without a proper rehab program. Mr Jameel soon became Justice Minister but never uttered a word about it!

  11. Maldivian123 on Thu, 5th Jul 2012 9:21 AM 

    Ahmed Murath was a convicted criminal with a long record of violent criminal activities. He was sentenced twice, (each time for 12 years) for sale of drugs. He had been arrested numerous times for violent assault, and one case was proven. In addition he had been tried and convicted of mugging. He had also attempted to flee from prison in 2005 but was caught and sent back to Prison.

    In spite of this, he was selected as a participant of the Second Chance program.

    Back when the Second Chance program was announced by the previous MDP government, political figures in the MDP government such as Monaza Naeem constantly re-assured the public that they would not release dangerous criminals. BUt after the death of Lawyer Najeeb and the confession by Murath that he was indeed the one who tied up, stabbed and murdered Lawyer Najeeb,it has now been proven, the MDP govt did release violent and dangerous criminals into society.

    People do change. But that doesnt mean that MDP government should have released criminals such as this with such violent and dangerous criminal backgrounds. Didnt they think about the rights of the common people ? Didnt they know back then that releasing such violent criminals would only worsen the crime rate in Male and lead to crimes such as this? And for what reason ? So that the MDP government could save on Prison expenses ? Didnt they know that they were mereley transferring the risk and burdens of criminals from Govt Prisons to Society ?

    If a Person is convicted of a criminal offence, should society be the one to carry the risk and the Burden of the Criminal ?
    MDP govt thought so. They thought that they were saving a ton on money to be spent on criminals daily expenses by releasing them into society. Money that they thought to use on other activities. They forgot that the people who voted for them expected them, the MDP government to protect their interests, to protect them from Dangerous criminals such as Murath. Yet MDP govt did exactly the opposite. They decided to cut back on their Prison budget and expenses by first releasing some minor offending criminals in jail and later resorting to releasing Major criminals such as Ahmed Murath. They forgot the rights and the wishes of the thousands of families who voted for them, expecting them to protect them from Criminals and dangerous convicts. Eventually, it is the Maldivian Society that has now coming to bear the burdens of MDP
    politicians blunders and stupidities.

    Time and time again, each time a Second Channce released criminal committed a crime, the MDP government and idiots such as
    Monaza Naeem tried to sugar-coat the Second Chance program. Each time a Second Chance convict robbed some nearby store, mugged a passerby on the street, assaulted a person in Broadlight Monaza Naeem would appear on a press conference saying, “This is only one person.” That one person, became two, that two became twenty. Tomorrow it will become a hundred.

    Even today, if an MDP person is asked about Second Chance program they will defend it. They will not believe that any Second Chance criminal released will have had or will committ any crimes. They will defend all the convicts released. Unless they are attacked or they personally come to bear the trauma of losing a life of a loved one, they will continue to defend the Second Chance program. Politics over truth. Ignorance and Denial over reason. Party over Human life. That is the reality of what MDP has become today.

  12. Ahmed on Thu, 5th Jul 2012 11:46 AM 

    Blame! Blame! Why dont you just blame it on the rain. A bad workman will always quarrel with his tools…..I wonder why they do not admit that they can not do their job or have the capacity.

  13. Kinboo on Thu, 5th Jul 2012 12:35 PM 

    How can they have capacity to think? While I myself is in a small cage with terrible condition indefinitely. Only Hawwa Lubuna make a notice of me.

  14. tsk tsk on Thu, 5th Jul 2012 1:26 PM 

    @Maldivian 123

    You are absolutely right.

    I pity the state of the MDP now I truly do.

    As hard as MDPs young acolytes would find it to believe, I spent a large and important part of my life supporting the democratic movement which culminated in the formation of the MDP.

    Only to see such efforts wasted away. Now Nasheed keeps his yes-men around him who attack and insult the people who worked their a** off to create what they call the MDP now. I will never forgive Nasheed for throwing away what could have been one of the most effective tools to funnel middle-class ambitions towards the greater good.

    As for the youth of today who have been led to believe that they have a stake in the democratic movement prior to the registration of the MDP think again. You are no better than the two-a-penny supporters trailing around any other political party. By the very fact of your youth you lack the capacity to actually assess right from wrong.

    That is why you do not realize that you are nailed to a sinking ship and Nasheed is carrying the anvil.

  15. Ahmed on Thu, 5th Jul 2012 2:06 PM 

    In civilised country,s you do not punish people for crimes they have yet to commit. I hope the Maldives does not make the same mistake and go back to the dark ages!

  16. Ahmed on Fri, 6th Jul 2012 4:39 PM 

    Hi Ahmed, how can we be civilized when we are in the dark ages as we speak!! “I only dream of Civilization in the Maldives”

  17. LOL on Fri, 6th Jul 2012 5:30 PM 

    Another 50 or 100 years it gonna take for Maldives to get civilised, liberal and developed. I’m afraid it will be underwater then !

  18. Ben Plewright on Sat, 7th Jul 2012 12:28 PM 

    An Islamic culture of empathy must be cultivated to end the tendency of this violence.

    Those with the genetic inclination to kill, (it has been demonstrated that there are chemicals involved – yes heroin but that is not what I am on about here…)can be saved from becoming killers through an upbringing of empathy and love, I believe that can be applied to an adult also – a heart can be transformed, the Maldives can be transformed!

    The supreme attribute and name of Our Rabb – Allah (SWT), and therefore the most commonly repeated Name of Allah, is Ar Rahman (The Merciful.) Allah is very often described as an unfathomably deep, never-ending wellspring of Eternal Mercy for all of the life in the Universe.

    It follows from this then, that in Islam, the sanctity of life is paramount, it is a reality grounded in the fact that the ontological foundation of Being is Mercy.

    Our Prophet and His Suhaaba embarked upon a self sacrificial, multi-dimensional struggle (Jihad) to bring Mercy, Peace, Unity and humanity to the Arabian peninsula and beyond, a region steeped in Jahilya and Zulm(barbaric nature and darkness.)

    Tribal Warfare, ferocious lust for murder and rape, vicious infanticide, insatiable hunger for blood, exploitative service of the warring Empires on the far reaches of the Peninsula, the Wahi (the Qur’an) and the Sunnah were meant to be the beginning of the wheel of the progress of a barbaric humanity.

    The Prophet resisted, through strictly non-violent means in his first years, the pride and selfishness which were the foundation of the warfare and inhumanity in the Hijaz and beyond. He opposed idolatry (Taughut, Shirk) as idols were symbols of the selfish will to power of certain individuals, or clans, and were therefore Fitnah (in this context – divisive and leading to war.) The Prophet taught the Oneness of God, which equated to the Oneness of humanity, a necessary revelation of Mercy for All.

    There is no Islamic justification for any violence, or threatening behavior, or provocative speech, unless it is absolutely beyond a doubt necessary to save the lives of more who would be killed if violence or force were not used, as such would not be an expression of the driving principle in Islam, struggle to be a Mercy to the worlds.

    For example, the context of the Hadith, ‘One who changes their Religion, kill him…’ used to justify violence and force used against apostates, has to be seen in the light of other Hadith, narrated by Aisha bin Bakr (Wife of Prophet and Daughter of Abu Bakr) stating the above Hadith and completing it with the phrase, ‘When they are at war with the Muslims…’

    The Prophet demonstrated his forgiveness towards apostates on a few occasions, demonstrating that an apostate who was not a DIRECT violent threat on innocent life, should be left in peace.

    Ultimately, the Prophet hated using force to spread Mercy. He loved to forgive. It was always the Prophet’s preference to win people’s hearts over to the Merciful through Mercy. Countless Hadith in Bukhari and Muslim recount incidences of self sacrificial forgiveness, even towards those who had killed Muslims.

    As a revert to Islam, I am often wounded by the shortage of empathy that I see in those who are supposed to be the bearers of empathy for all humanity, us Muslims.

    Until our heart, mind, body and soul live from this Mercy, we Muslims will continue to make our beautiful religion look ugly and completely destroy our own souls.

    How does all apply to the Maldives, you may ask?

    To begin with, because the senior members of the MDP were not killing anybody, it was absolutely un-Islamic to act in a threatening or violent manner towards them or their families. I understand that Abdul Majid Abdul Bari (or is it Abdul Bari Abdul Majid) tried to win Nasheed over through Mercy, using the Prophet’s example. I was informed that Nasheed was beginning to become very genuinely pious as a consequence. I wonder if he feels like being so devoted to Allah and so connected to the Ummah when the very same Ummah treated him so badly.

    Second of all, if one is an apostate, instead of threatening them as Nazim was threatened, or attacking them as Hilath was (he was very falsely accused of being an apostate) if they are not a directly violent threat to the Maldives, which neither were, then follow the Prophet’s example, and struggle to win them over to Mercy, through mercy, NOT through force.

    Most importantly, if a culture of Allah’s Mercy was cultivated, expressed through practical means, there would be more empathy between Maldivians and less fear, less hate, then less greed and violent conflict. Love begets love. We must strive to eradicate hatred from our hearts and we must forgive each other, and love one another.

  19. Ben Plewright on Sat, 7th Jul 2012 12:40 PM 

    Dear Minivan,

    Please release this following as a letter or article.

    To my Beloved Islamic Brothers and Sisters of the Maldives,

    Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullhiwa Barakhatu,

    The supreme attribute and name of Our Rabb – Allah (SWT), and therefore the most commonly repeated Name of Allah, is Ar Rahman (The Merciful.) Allah is very often described as an unfathomably deep, never-ending wellspring of Eternal Mercy for all of the life in the Universe.

    Ibn Kathir, recognized as the most authentic commentator of the Qur’an by most of the Sunni Ulema, has this to say in his Tafsir.

    (“Allah the Exalted said, ‘I Am Ar-Rahman. I created the Raham (womb, i.e. family relations) and derived a name for it from My Name.

    (Ar-Rahman (Allah) rose over (Istawa) the (Mighty) Throne (in a manner that suits His majesty).) (20:5)

    Allah thus mentioned the Istawa – rising over the Throne – along with His Name Ar-Rahman, to indicate that His mercy encompasses all of His creation.” (Commentary on Surah Al-Fatiha))

    It follows from this, that in Islam, the sanctity of life is paramount, it is a reality grounded in the fact that the ontological foundation of Being is Mercy.

    Our Prophet and His Suhaaba embarked upon a self sacrificial, multi-dimensional struggle (Jihad) to bring Mercy, Peace, Unity and humanity to the Arabian peninsula and beyond, a region steeped in Jahilya and Zulm(barbaric nature and darkness.)

    Tribal Warfare, ferocious lust for murder and rape, vicious infanticide, insatiable hunger for blood, exploitative service of the warring Empires on the far reaches of the Peninsula, the Wahi (the Qur’an) and the Sunnah were meant to be the beginning of the wheel of the progress of a barbaric humanity.

    The Prophet resisted, through strictly non-violent means in his first years, the pride and selfishness which were the foundation of the warfare and inhumanity in the Hijaz and beyond. He opposed idolatry (Taughut, Shirk) as idols were symbols of the selfish will to power of certain individuals, or clans, and were therefore Fitnah (in this context – divisive and leading to war.) The Prophet taught the Oneness of God, which equated to the Oneness of humanity, a necessary revelation of Mercy for All.

    There is no Islamic justification for any violence, or threatening behavior, or provocative speech, unless it is absolutely beyond a doubt necessary to save the lives of more who would be killed if violence or force were not used, as such would not be an expression of the driving principle in Islam, struggle to be a Mercy to the worlds.

    For example, the context of the Hadith, ‘One who changes their Religion, kill him…’ used to justify violence and force used against apostates, has to be seen in the light of other Hadith, narrated by Aisha bin Bakr (Wife of Prophet and Daughter of Abu Bakr) stating the above Hadith and completing it with the phrase, ‘When they are at war with the Muslims…’

    The Prophet demonstrated his forgiveness towards apostates on a few occasions, demonstrating that an apostate who was not a DIRECT violent threat on innocent life, should be left in peace.

    Ultimately, the Prophet hated using force to spread Mercy. He loved to forgive. It was always the Prophet’s preference to win people’s hearts over to the Merciful through Mercy. Countless Hadith in Bukhari and Muslim recount incidences of self sacrificial forgiveness, even towards those who had killed Muslims.

    As a revert to Islam, I am often wounded by the shortage of empathy that I see in those who are supposed to be the bearers of empathy for all humanity, us Muslims.

    Until our heart, mind, body and soul live from this Mercy, we Muslims will continue to make our beautiful religion look ugly and completely destroy our own souls.

    How does all apply to the Maldives, you may ask?

    To begin with, because the senior members of the MDP were not killing anybody, it was absolutely un-Islamic to act in a threatening or violent manner towards them or their families. I understand that a Senior Alim, from Adhalaath Party originally, stayed with the Government of Nasheed. He used Mercy to help Nasheed become more pious, using the Prophet’s example. He did not use force. I was informed that Nasheed was beginning to become very genuinely pious as a consequence. I wonder if he feels like being so connected to the Ummah when the very same Ummah treated him so badly.

    Second of all, if one is an apostate, instead of threatening them as Nazim was threatened, or attacking them as Hilath was (he was very falsely accused of being an apostate) if they are not a directly violent threat to the Maldives, which neither were, then follow the Prophet’s example, and struggle to win them over to Mercy, through mercy, NOT through force.

    Most importantly, if a culture of Allah’s Mercy was cultivated, expressed through practical means, there would be more empathy between Maldivians and less fear, less hate, then less greed and violent conflict. Love begets love. We must strive to eradicate hatred from our hearts and we must forgive each other, and love one another.


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Torture victims in the Maldives tell their stories