Attorney General Uz. Ibrahim Riffath, US Charge d’affaires Ms. Andrea Appell, Executive Director of Transparency Maldives Aasiyath Rilweena, Commissioner of Police Mohamed Hameed, Fellow colleagues of Ministry of Home Affairs, Fellow staff of Transparency Maldives and USAID, distinguished invitees.
It is truly an honor to be addressing on this research launching event.
The Ministry of Home Affairs and Transparency Maldives have worked together during the past year in two research studies, which are of utmost importance.
These studies have provided us with in-depth knowledge in understanding the aspects of many social issues and crimes concerning youth in the Maldivian community.
I extend my heartfelt appreciation to all those who have contributed in various ways in making these studies a success.
These research studies were aimed at understanding community resilience and social cohesion to address social issues of concern to youth and their communities and reducing vulnerabilities to radicalization and violent extremism.
Looking at these studies, we can see that there are many areas we need to address in making our community safe.
Reducing radicalization within the prison community, preventing and countering violent extremism and rehabilitation of drug-dependent persons are some of the issues that needs urgent attention.
Inadequate social re-integration of offenders has been a major issue in the Maldives. However, this is an important element in preventing crime, building resilience and promoting safe communities.
I understand that there are several institutional challenges in addressing these social issues; lack of inter-agency coordination, shortage of qualified people, and budget shortages are some such notable issues.
Moreover, overcrowding in prisons, lack of adequate space and equipment also contribute to radicalization and other issues in the prison community.
Hence, strengthening legislative provisions, restorative justice in the penal code and criminal procedure, emphasis on alternative sentencing, special alternatives to pre-trail detention for children, strengthening clemency, parole and probation, and treating drug addiction from preventive perspective are essential. Also developing a national strategy on social reintegration as a policy guideline is important too.
In addition, having sufficient budget and resources for reintegration effort is important as well. It is particularly important in having resources for preventive interventions, education and health systems, and development of technical capacity for effective and efficient management of rehabilitation and reintegration programs.
Moreover, strengthening the management structure and process of the rehabilitation and reintegration services across all relevant agencies is crucial in ensuring quality services to clients.
Also, increasing community engagement such as building public awareness, building community based interventions, promoting family ties, and reducing stigmatizations are important as well.
The two studies that are being launched today will be an important source for formulating effective policies on said issues. I firmly believe that the studies would provide us with deeper insights and recommendations in how all of the relevant agencies could work together in addressing these issues, to bring a solution that makes our community safer and more peaceful.
Before I conclude, I would like to thank Transparency Maldives - for the effort they have put forth in making these studies a success, USAID - for their generosity in funding this project, Maldives Correctional Service - for their assistance, and my fellow colleagues of Ministry of Home Affairs.
Thank you and Wah -salamu alaykum!