Gender minister Shidaatha Shareef says that the State as a whole has to bear responsibility for the incident involving the disappearance of 14-year-old Shaim Abdulla from its care.
She said this in a response to a question asked by Faresmaathodaa MP Hussain Mohamed Latheef, during Monday's Parliamentary sitting. The MP opened his question by clarifying that the ministry is entrusted with the duties and responsibilities to look after children under State care, and that any negligence of its part can be deemed as a criminal offence. He then raised the question as to what responsibility the minister took during and regarding Shaim's case.
In her answer, Shidaatha said that she had informed the Maldives Police Service immediately after Shaim went missing while at State care at the Villimale-based “Amaan Hiya”. She also said that she promptly removed the respective duty officer on a temporary basis, and had compiled an investigative report based on the circumstances leading to the disappearance.
Reiterating her stance that the entire State is to take responsibility for the incident, she explained that establishments like the children centre accommodates a free environment for children; however their staff responsible for the children's welfare lack the proper training or expertise in handling their jobs.
The MP then asked a follow-up question, on why the minister decided to make his information public. In response, she said that she did not divulge any personal information to the public in any manner, and that any information that was disclosed to the public did not have any element or detail that would sully his name. However, she noted news outlets and social media have relayed the information in a way that would have lead to confusion.
Minister Shidaatha was previously summoned for questioning to the Parliament's Human Rights Committee, where she agreed on the factor that staff negligence played a large role in the incident. The case was also investigated by Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM).
Shaim was initially reported missing on June 18, and was later found inside a house in capital Male' City about 2 weeks later. A week after he was found, police apprehended two people who allegedly aided the boy into hiding. However, they did not reveal any details of the suspects or the location of their arrest.
The minister earlier stated that Shaim had been brought from an environment of crime and was under their care for assessment when he fled.