The Maldives government has made a €40,000 (US$50,000) advance payment to a Netherlands-based company for the delivery of a dog squad to combat drug trafficking.
A police media statement explained that the payment was made to the Dutch company yesterday which is to be called ‘Faara Gema’.
Police also announced employment opportunities working at the ‘Faara Gema’ dog squad kennel which is to be located in Hulhumalé.
Police give the utmost importance and high priority towards fighting against drug use and trafficking and also establishing the ‘Faara Gema’ dog squad, read the press statement.
While speaking at a press conference last week, Police Drug Enforcement Department head, Chief Inspector Ahmed Shifan revealed plans to use the dog squad in the atolls during special operations, but refused to provide any further details.
Minister of Home Affairs, Umaru Naseer flew to the Netherlands in June to finalise arrangements for the dogs, which the ministry has said will first be transported to Sri Lanka.
“The dogs will be trained in Sri Lanka for three months. After that the Maldivian police team will travel to Sri Lanka and train with the dogs for another three months and the dogs will be brought to the Maldives for the first time to form the squad,” explained media officer Thazmeel Abdul Samad.
A total of 15 police officers are to be given training to work with the animals, local media have reported.
The Maldives has previously employed dogs for drugs and security, with the most recent example being the use of dogs for security operations at the 2011 SAARC Summit in Addu City. On that occasion, the dogs were handled by a special Sri Lankan task force.
In October 2002 two sniffer dogs were brought to the Maldives from Sri Lanka, and were used at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport under the supervision of National Security Service – and later the Maldives National Defence Force.
In 2008, the chair of the parliamentary committee on narcotics, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said that no drugs were ever confiscated with the help of the two dogs. The committee’s investigations found that the dogs were in fact unable to recognize drugs, said Solih.
The home minister has pledged to focus his efforts on the battle against drugs while in office, noting that illegal narcotics were overloading the criminal justice system and fuelling gang crime.
He has identified stricter control of the country’s borders, a crack down on large-scale drug dealers, and rehabilitation of drug users as the key ways in which to tackle the problem.
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