Statement by H.E. Mr. Aslam Shakir, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs on Agenda Item 107 and 108: Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice; and International Drug Control, Third Committee of the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly, 6 October 2011
Since this is the first time my delegation is taking the floor, let me begin by extending our warmest congratulations to you and the members of your bureau upon your election to chair the Third Committee. Let me assure you of my delegation’s full support to you during this session.
The Maldives, a small island state going through a turbulent period of democratic transition, continue to face a number of challenges in institutionalizing the necessary frameworks to ensure that accountability, transparency and the rule of law are established as fundamental doctrines of a contemporary society.
As a key pillar of the Administration’s policy, the Maldives is currently pursuing every possible avenue to develop its responses to drug control, organised crime and to solidify the existing judicial system aimed at effectively delivering criminal justice to the populace, based on international standards. As we attempt to meet the challenges of putting in place a more inclusive and holistic approach to policy making that would be fully transparent, the previous regime’s deficiencies in responsible governance are becoming increasingly apparent. Therefore, as a measure to overcome this legacy and improve public confidence, accountability and to act as a strong deterrence against corruption and other criminal activities in the long term, the Government of Maldives decided, for the first time in its history, to make public the financial details of all government expenditure on a weekly basis.
On the issue of maritime piracy, the Maldives welcomes the report by the Secretary-General on the work of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. As the primary intergovernmental institution combating drugs and organised crime, we fully appreciate the tools provided to Member States, especially the “Global Transnational Organised Crime Threat Assessment” report.
The Maldives wishes to thank UNODC for agreeing to support Maldives in the repatriation of the Somali drifters apprehended in the Maldivian waters. However, we are very disappointed in the slow progress that has been made in this regard. As we lack technical and financial capacity in this field, we would like to take this opportunity to highlight our unique situation and understand the fiscal burden of accommodating the Somali drifters. Therefore, we call upon UNODC to work closely with us in expediting the process in order to achieve tangible results.
The Maldives remains concerned by its placement on the Tier-2 watch list by the United States, as highlighted by the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report. While we are committed to addressing this issue with the seriousness it deserves, we are also severely constrained in our efforts to combat human trafficking by a lack of resources, both in human and material terms. We are also planning to put forward an anti trafficking bill to the parliament before the end of the year. Nevertheless, we are taking a number of steps to remedy this situation in concert with our donor partners.
Training of law enforcement personnel and members of the judiciary to identify and prevent the trafficking in persons, strengthening of border control mechanisms and regional cooperation with our bilateral partners are a few of these initiatives. However, the government currently lacks the resources and capacity to effectively implement these proposals, to investigate cases, or to holistically treat victims. Therefore, the Maldives will continue to pursue opportunities that promote regional and international cooperation that aid in the development of capacity at the national level.
The Maldives is no stranger to the detrimental effects of drug addiction, combating the trafficking of drugs in our region continues to feature in the highest of priorities for national authorities. In our experience, it is no longer sustainable to treat victims of drug dependence as criminals, rather, we have undertaken comprehensive efforts to rehabilitate and reintegrate these victims into the society, and to address the social and health dimensions associated with drug abuse. Internationally, the Maldives will advocate actively for international cooperation against the world drug problem. We believe that the international community needs to focus with even greater intensity on the unholy nexus that exist between drug trafficking, corruption and other forms of organized crime.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, we wish to express our sincere desire to work with the international community to address the social, economic and financial activities that sustain these adversities. As such, the Maldives will be looking to accede to the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime in the months ahead, and will continue to do our part at home and abroad.