Supreme Court overturns decision to maintain minor's home arrest

The Supreme Court has ruled that the minor involved in the murder of a 13-year old boy was changed to home arrest wrongfully.

After the Human Rights Commission deemed the Juvenile Detention Center in Asseyri Jail, K. Himmafushi, unfit to hold children, the Juvenile Court ordered for the 17-year-old against whom murder charges have been raised, to be transferred to home arrest. He was transferred to home arrest on November 9, 2021.

Maldives Correctional Services later established a new detention center to hold underage children, and the State requested the Juvenile Court to move the suspect to the new center. However, the court ruled that the previous order to keep the suspect under home arrest must be maintained. The High Court upheld the ruling.

The High Court ruling said while the suspect has not been released, it is clear that he still remains in detention. The Children's Rights Protection Act states that they may be detained at home, and therefore, home arrest is an acceptable form of custody under the law, the Judge had said.

In a ruling delivered by the Supreme Court on Wednesday, the Judge said while it is unquestionably clear that the Judge can transfer a minor to home arrest based on the circumstance, all aspects must be considered before making such a decision.

Although murder charges have been raised against the boy, and while the minor remains a threat to society, the High Court, in its ruling, had said there were no legal obstructions to keep the suspect under home arrest. It said the suspect was cooperating with the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and that the fact he was enrolled in a course was a good sign.

However, the Supreme Court ruling said the High Court ruling had not considered all aspects in maintaining the Juvenile Court ruling. Therefore, the top court deemed the High Court ruling invalid.

The deceased 13-year-old boy was first reported as kidnapped. On June 22, 2021, his body was discovered in the beach area of reclaimed suburbs Hulhumale'. In addition to the minor, a 27-year-old local man was arrested in connection to the boy's death.

The 17-year-old minor faces three charges. They are one count of voluntary homicide, one charge of unlawful restraint of a person, and one charge of abuse of a human corpse.