Agenda Item 107/108: Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice/International Drug Control
Statement by Mr Jeffrey Salim Waheed,
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations
United Nations, New York, 8 October 2015
Thank you Chair,
At the outset, I wish to acknowledge the reports of the Secretary General on Crime Prevention, Criminal Justice and International Drug Control. Let me assure you of my delegation's full cooperation and support for the deliberations of this committee.
Transnational organised crime is a global phenomenon that continues to destabilise international peace and security. It undermines development, legitimate economic activity, rule of law and governance. For the Maldives, an archipelago which lies at the centre of one of the world's premier maritime trade routes, threats of transnational organised crime are more acute. Due to heavy reliance on migrant workers, the Maldives also remains vulnerable to the perils of human trafficking and people smuggling.
The Maldives is fully committed to tackle these crimes that threaten peace both at home and abroad. The Maldives is a party to the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organised Crime and is resolute in its efforts to translate the Convention into domestic laws. In this regard, the enactment of the Anti-Trafficking Act in 2013 and the introduction of the National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons for 2015 through 2019 are milestones in combating trafficking in the country. More recently, the Maldives has completed its domestic legal requirements for its accession to the Optional Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children.
International drug control is beyond the realm of any single country. We all agree on the need towards an integrated and balanced strategy to counter the world drug problem. Therefore, my delegation wishes to commend the work of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for the extensive work being carried out on this agenda. The Maldives also commends the work carried out by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs towards the convening of the Special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem in 2016 and we look forward to actively participating.
The escalated use and abuse of drugs in Maldivian society has been an issue of growing concern over the course of the past decade. Maldivian youth have increasingly become victims to the vices of drug abuse, and this is especially concerning given that young people constitute 46% of the Maldivian population. 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 Drugs Act 2011 represents a paradigm shift viewing drug offenders as victims in need of rehabilitation rather than only as criminals. It makes provision for the prevention of use and trafficking, provides for measures for rehabilitation and facilitates victims' reintegration into society as responsible citizens. Under this Act, a separate court has been established, and across all branches of Government, there is a conscious shift in policy towards rehabilitation and re-introduction of addicts into society. However, this is particularly demanding in practice, given the unique geographical makeup of the country and the limited resources and capacity we have.
In terms of prevention and monitoring, surveillance has also been tightened across the Maldives to eliminate the smuggling and distribution of drugs. During the past year, the Maldivian police and border control authorities have even started using K-9 dogs in detecting drug smugglers.
Above all, the Government seeks to address the issue of crime prevention and drug abuse through a holistic approach, with a special focus on youth development. The Government has prioritised education, skills development and job creation for the youth, with an aim to empower young people and create productive citizens. The Government of Maldives, with the support of UNDP, has facilitated entrepreneurship opportunities for Maldivian youth. The Government has also ratified the Sports Act 2015, aimed at enhancing the development of the sports sector and encouraging productive youth engagement in society.
The Government intends to develop a youth city inclusive of an information technology hub, together with other integrated components including housing, entertainment, tourism and commercial enterprises in the development of Hulhumalé, a wholly reclaimed island in the greater Malé area with a landmass more than twice the size of the capital. The enactment of the Drug Act and the Gang Violence Act, provide the legal frameworks in dealing with criminal and drug issues. The Government has criminalised gang violence and organized crime, and moved rapidly to correct the infringement of human rights that have resulted through gang activities.
We believe that through these instruments, and through empowering our youth, we would be able to not only address drug abuse and criminal activity, but ensure a future that is brighter and more prosperous.