High-level Thematic Debate of the General Assembly in support of the process towards the 2016 special session on the World Drug Problem
Jeffrey Salim Waheed
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations, Chargé d’affaires, a.i.
New York, 7 May 2015
Thank you distinguished co-chairs,
On behalf of the Maldives, I would like to express our sincere appreciation to you and the panellists present today. The Maldives commends efforts in support of the process towards the 2016 Special Session of the General Assembly on the World Drug Problem.
Despite the valiant efforts of all countries to counteract the world drug problem, it is clear that it continues to pose a serious threat, directly and indirectly to the health, safety and well-being of all human beings, in particular the most critical demographics of the world’s population, children and the youth. As they are the custodians of our future, we should take all measures necessary to protect our children and the youth from all negative consequences that drugs pose to their physical and intellectual wellbeing.
It is with grave concern, I recognise that over the last few decades, a significant proportion of the Maldivian youth have also fallen victim to the vice of drug abuse. But I at the same time would also like to note that the Government of the Maldives, together with its development partners and the civil society is proactively engaged in combating and eliminating this scourge from our society.
Recognising the unique challenges that the battle against drugs pose; the Maldives has worked with international stakeholders to introduce and enforce specialised legislation on drugs, which are distinct from criminal legislation. The enactment of the Drug Act in 2011 provided the necessary legal framework in this regard. In order to differentiate drug related offenses from the normal criminal offenses, a distinct court known as the ‘Drug Court’ has been established and all drug related offenders channelled to the Drug Court. This has enabled the judiciary to have a more focused approach to these offences, and provide justice in a more equitable and adequate manner. However, this is particularly demanding in practice, given the wide dispersion of the islands of our country, and the limited resources and capacity that we have.
As implied by the legislation just mentioned, the Maldives is fully aware of the importance of rehabilitation and therefore rehabilitation efforts are coupled with preventative and punitive measures in order to effectively counteract the alarming incidence of use and abuse of drugs in our society. We should not underestimate the gruelling journey of rehabilitation and especially how easily one could relapse. Not only because drugs have become more easily accessible, but also due to the addictive and corrupting biological effects drugs have on human beings and their inhibition threshold.
In terms of prevention, monitoring and search measures have also been strengthened across the Maldives to eliminate the smuggling and distribution of drugs. Just a few months ago, a K-9 dog squad has been introduced in the Maldives to assist the police and law-enforcement personnel in detecting drug smugglers and distributors.
Dialogue such as this is vital in informing each other about new approaches and achievements in reduction strategies, as the World Drug Problem remains a common and shared concern. We should utilise the information and experiences shared in today’s session to build further ammunition in our battle against drugs and eradicate this menace and protect our future generations.