I am truly shocked by the trivial manner in which some of our educated people, especially among the youth, are taking the issue of freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. The case of the Criminal Court Judge becomes important  in the first place not because he is a judge nor because he belongs to the criminal court. First and foremost he is a Maldivian citizen like all of us. The most important and most precious dividend from the democracy struggle in Maldives has been freedom from fear. It is the knowledge that no one of us will be dragged out of our beds in the middle of the night and taken to an undisclosed location. The moment we deny this freedom from one person, we deny that freedom for all.

In the aftermath of the World Wars and formation of the United Nations, the international community agreed that freedom of nations depended on the freedom of the individual. Since 1945, there has been a concerted effort by the international community to develop a comprehensive body of international human rights law. The most fundamental human right is the right to personal liberty. and one significant aspect of personal liberty is freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 in its Article 3 states that “everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person. In Article 9 it states that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile”. Similarly, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that “everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.”

Maldives signed the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its Optional Protocol on 16 December 1966. Similarly, we signed the International Covenant for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance on 20 December 2006.

Besides all the international legal obligations, the Government of Maldives is bound by the Maldives Constitution 2008 which prohibits arbitrary arrest and forced disappearance. We have just witnessed the first possible violation since the dawn of democracy in our country. I cannot understand why this is not an issue for everyone in this country.

Those of us who have struggled for freedom in this country for over 30 years, are wondering whether we have wasted our efforts. I have expressed my reservations about the way the Government has allowed the disappearance of a citizen, a Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, for the reasons I mention above. I am ashamed and totally devastated by the fact that this is happening in a government in which I am the elected the Vice President.

Birthday Thoughts

4 January 2012

Yesterday was my 59th Birthday. I am pleased with the large number of friends who sent me well wishes. I thank them all. A birthday is an appropriate time for us to reflect on our lives and what we have been able to accomplish personally and professionally. It is also a good time to think and take course corrections for the rest of the time remaining, even if we are not sure how much time we have left. What is certain in life is that nothing is completely certain. But when you reach my age there is one thing that you know for sure. I don’t have nearly as much time as I want. This realization makes every moment very precious.

Allah has been very kind to me. I am thankful for all the blessings in my life. Good children and a wonderful family are the biggest blessing of all. I am thankful for generally good health and for a peaceful life. I wish such good blessings on all my family and friends.

One of the things for which I take a great deal of responsibility is this government’s pledge for a Maldives without drugs. We now have the possibility of setting up a whole new regime for the control of drug abuse. I thank the Majlis members for passing the new Drugs Bill and thank President Nasheed for endorsing the same. Many committed individuals helped to design and improve the Bill and I would like to thank them all, but one of them deserve special gratitude. Hon. Mohamed Nasheed, Member of Parliament from Kulhudhuffushi contributed more to the preparation of the new drugs bill than anyone else I know. So thank you Hon. Nasheed.

Now the difficult challenge of implementing the Bill starts. A new drugs court will be set up and a series of treatment programmes will be available for the treatment of drugs victims.

It is important that the new court is set up soon. We will work with the court to strengthen it’s technical capacities in all substantive issues of drug importation, transaction, use, and most importantly on treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration. We have already provisions for this work under the support provided by the European Union through the United Nations.

In the past three years, I have chaired the Narcotics Control Council (NCC) and overseen the work of the drug related agencies, but with mixed results. There have been some success including the preparation of the new Drugs Bill, better coordination among the drug related agencies, setting up of new treatment programmes, more support to NGO’s working in the area of aftercare for recovering addicts etc. There are still many structural and programmatic challenges we have to resolve.

From the beginning, I have always been convinced that a strong central agency is needed to plan, manage and supervise the implementation of drugs programmes. While many actors will be involved, such as NGOs in the provision of the services, there needs to be a central organization that provides technical and professional support to them. This capacity is currently lacking. We have tried for the last three years to work with the existing structures but we have not seen the kind of change we all expected. The implementation of the new legislation requires a new architecture of drug control administration. I have proposed a draft organigram of the National Narcotics Control Agency in the new Bill. This will be discussed and we will come up with a final structure in the next few days.

I know that what we have been able to do so far is not adequate but we hope that we can move forward better with the new Bill in place.

Vice President Urges Not to Criminalize Drug Users


Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed has said, in the Maldives, convincing people that drug use was a social and a medical problem remains a huge task.
Noting that, although it was easy to see drug use as a criminal issue, he said “if you really want to be serious and help this people to recover and to be reintegrated in to our communities, then we have to see from a social perspective.”
He made the remarks at the opening ceremony of South Asia Regional Training on Treatment and Rehabilitation for Treatment Professionals organized jointly by Colombo Plan, US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and UNODC.
Speaking on the drug issue in the South Asia region, the Vice President emphasized that drug use was directly related social, political and economic issues in the country.
He said drug use has become an increasingly “important issue in our region and public policy has a lot to do with that – distribution of wealth, condition of poverty, degradation and social marginalization all contribute to worsening drug situation.”
“Wherever it is, people resort to drugs because they want to escape from pain, from poverty, from suffering,” he added.
In his remarks this morning, the Vice President referred to the recommendations of a groundbreaking report on global drug situation by the Global Commission on Drug Policy.
He said the report that calls for major reforms of global drug prohibition regime, also echoed the calls for strengthening of services for health and treatment of drug users, which he said was the most important recommendation of the report.
The training workshop that began today in Bandos Island Resort and Spa will be held from 13 to 22 June.

Vice President Attends Certificate Awarding Ceremony of Dhiraagu Apprentice Programme 2011

Attending the certificate awarding ceremony of Dhiraagu Apprentice Programme 2011, Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed has commended Dhiraagu for its successful and exemplary apprenticeship programmes accustom youth to the workplace.

Dhiraagu Apprentice Programme is a key initiative under its youth development programme to support the positive development and provide opportunities for Maldivian youth to gain structured training and work experience at Dhiraagu.

The Vice President said apprenticeship opportunities for youth, such as the one by Dhiraagu, was vital to prepare them for the competitive job market and shape their career.

He underlined the importance of developing human resources to tap the advantages of changing societies and business organisations with the changing context of media.

He said the world and the country were more interconnected as we were undergoing democratic transformations, and therefore, opportunities available through new forms of media should be used to develop a ‘new awareness of rights’ in a new democracy.

Highlighting the importance of developing necessary skills to achieve sustainable development, the Vice President said talent would be the most precious and most scarce resource for the economy of the future.

The Vice President also acknowledged the work of other apprentice programs undertake by resorts and other projects carried throughout the country for young people to find employment.