The Maldives has only recently established the Maldives Police Service (MPS). Previously, the National Security Services (NSS) was responsible for policing on the island. The NSS was long seen as a tool of the Gayoom-led government to further its agenda. The death of Hassan Evan Naseem, and several of his fellow inmates who were also shot to death at the hands of the NSS in 2003, cast a dark shadow on Gayoom’s rule and the conduct of the NSS. In 2004, the MPS was declared a civil authority and has since made strides to become a modern police force. With guidance from international trainers and improved facilities (including a forensics lab that is ISO 9001 certified), the MPS has an opportunity to become one of the most efficient police forces in the region. A major boost to this effort was the enactment of a new Constitution and a new Police Act in 2008. Click here to view the Police Act, 2008 (unofficial translation) and the The Constitution of Maldives (official translation).
The Police Act, 2008 establishes the Police Integrity Commission (PIC). The objectives of this commission as per the Police Act, 2008 can be found under Section 19 of the act.
Section 19: The objectives of Police Integrity Commission are stated below.
- (a) To promote respect for law within police officers.
- (b) To independently investigate unlawful activities occurring within the police and take actions as mentioned in the law.
- (c) To provide the necessary legal protection to police officers to perform their duty.
- (d) To enhance public trust and confidence in relation to police service.
There is real hope for the reform process in Maldives because it is a relatively smaller country and the obstacles are not as deeply entrenched. Since the PIC started its work in July 2009, it has looked into over 81 complaints and completed investigations in over 65% of cases as of 1 January 2010. It has begun investigations into three major cases using its suo moto powers. However, notwithstanding the keen desire of the PIC to get on with its work, the PIC has been hampered by budgetary issues and inactivity on the part of the government to strengthen the Commission. Click here to read an article written by the Chairperson of the PIC in NIPSA’s February 2010 E-Newsletter.
The government has recently established a Cabinet Committee to look into cases of police torture. When it was pointed out that the mandate of this committee might overlap with that of the PIC, the Attorney General assured Maldivians that no overlap would occur and the Cabinet Committee would be focused on improving police efficiency. Click here to read news item.
With increasing drug addiction and random acts of violent crime, along with a rise in religious extremism, there are many challenges facing the Maldives Police Service. In an attempt to tackle these burgeoning problems, the MPS have recently begun several initiatives in the field of community-oriented policing. These initiatives have been outlined by Ahmed Irfan (Maldivian Democracy Network) in his article for NIPSA’s May 2010 E-Newsletter.