The Maldives is a luxurious island nation in the Indian Ocean that draws more than 2 million visitors annually. The Maldives has long been portrayed as a paradise for holidaymakers. But, as you may not know, not everyone on the islands spends their time partying or lounging on a beach. Inhabitants and tourists alike who get caught for breaking the law may end up in Maafushi Central Prison.
Maafushi Central Prison is a high-security facility covering an area of about 35,000 squares meters. It’s surrounded by a 6-meter-high concrete wall and the ocean providing more barriers. The prison houses up to 800 criminals under the strictest security measures to ensure that inmates do not escape. Round-the-clock surveillance by a network of cameras, strict rules, and daily searches are critical components in the success of this prison in the middle of a vacation paradise.
According to officials, the prison comprises nine different units. Unit 9, the largest of these, is a star-shaped structure used to house high-security level prisoners. Units 5-8, which surround it, are meant for inmates who pose less security risks. At the opposite side of the prison is the women’s wing. There is also a workshop area where inmates with good behavior may be allowed to work.
Perhaps most surprisingly, many of the guards responsible for keeping watch at Maafushi Central Prison live on the island of Maafushi, just one wall from their prisoners. While they do not carry weapons, the guards hold the keys to the locked cells and are armed with handcuffs to deescalate any potentially volatile situations. Guard Hassan Mohammed is one of such guards. He, like his colleagues, has a vital task: to keep the inmates under control and out of danger.
The situation at Maafushi Central Prison is intriguing. To learn more about what goes on inside the facility, watch the documentary, “Paradise Island’s Prison” and uncover the shocking details about this little-known darker side of the Maldives.