Agenda Item 107/108: Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice/International Drug Control
Statement by the Republic of Maldives
6 October 2016
United Nations, New York, 2016
At the outset, I would like to thank the Secretary General for the reports submitted under this Agenda Item for our consideration.
The modern age of globalization, information technology, international travel and cross-border business enterprises characterize the 21st Century. Although some of these aspects have advanced international efforts to address transnational and organized crime, they have also provided criminals with great flexibility and allowed them to broaden their areas of operation. Crimes of such nature have long been, and remain, an obstacle to sustainable economic and social development.
The Maldives is a geographically dispersed island nation that lies on one of the leading maritime trade routes. Organized crime such as drug trafficking, trafficking of persons and money laundering is an ever-present threat for our island nation. We have thus remained vigilant and unwavering in our efforts to combat and prevent such threats.
The Maldives is party to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and its Optional Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. Since acceding to the Convention, we have taken a number of significant steps to implement the provisions of the Convention domestically.
Through the adoption of the Anti-Trafficking of Persons Act, the Anti-Money Laundering and Combatting of Terrorism Financing Act and the Counter-Terrorism Act, the Maldives has criminalized the trafficking of persons, money laundering, terrorism, and the financing of terrorism and provided law enforcement authorities with the means to combat those crimes effectively. The National Counter Terrorism Centre established in February this year represents an important institutional development. This Centre is designated as the nodal agency in coordinating the 'whole-of-society' effort in countering terrorism and violent extremism. The National Strategy to Counter Violent Extremism, is a crucial preventive element, based upon propagation of moderate and progressive Islamic teachings, empowerment of women and youth and increased preventive intervention by law enforcement and concerned governmental agencies to counter extremist and radical ideologies and practices. Safeguarding the tourism industry and the tourism clientele from terrorist attacks is also an important focus area, and programs aimed at increasing awareness at tourist locations about 'soft-target' security, and enhancing the readiness and response mechanism is already underway.
However, adopting such measures at the domestic level alone does not enable us to combat such crimes effectively. The Maldives recognizes the need to collaborate with other States and international organisations to identify emerging trends and issues in preventing and countering such crimes. As a significant step in that direction, the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act was enacted in 2014 which allows the State to cooperate with other States and international organisations to provide mutual legal assistance in relation to criminal offences, including but not limited to, organized crime.
Without a fair, transparent and effective criminal justice system, none of our efforts to combat crime will be effectively realized. To give effect to our obligations under international law and taking into consideration relevant United Nations standards and norms in crime prevention and criminal justice, we have enacted a comprehensive Criminal Procedure Code this year. Building upon the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, this new law will pave the way to ensure the right of everyone to a fair trial by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law, to equal access to justice with due process safeguards and, the right to consult an attorney and to an interpreter where needed.
The United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem earlier this year reflected the extent of drug prevalence in the societies of Member States. With a youth population that comprises 47% of the entire population of Maldives, prevention of drug abuse is of vital importance. The Maldives national drug policies and laws are underpinned not just by our firm conviction on the need to build safer and just societies, but are also supported by human rights principles. In addition to stringent measures to combat drug trafficking, our Drugs Act also places a strong emphasis on reintegrating drug dependent persons into society.
The war against crime is not one that any country can win by itself. Where organized crime has crossed borders and is operating trans-nationally, the response to crime cannot remain domestic any longer. A global commitment from all parties are required if we are to win this war.
The Maldives will continue to remain steadfast in implementing policies and responses to the issues of crime, both locally and internationally. While our unique geographic identity and limited resources pose an endless array of challenges, we are unwavering in our commitment to doing our part in this global response to crime. We are hopeful that the dialogues shared in this session today will prove to be fruitful and yield positive results.
Thank you Madam Chair