Commissioner of Police Abdullah Riyaz has outlined the Maldives Police Service (MPS)’s new operational priorities for 2012, and introduced newly appointed Deputy Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed.
At a press conference yesterday, Riyaz said the new priorities of the police included prevention of drug trafficking, prevention of organised and violent crimes, road safety monitoring and counter-terrorism.
Riyaz said he would try to make the police into an institution “feared by the most dreaded criminals”.
“We will try our best to identify the criminals and ensure they are being tried for their charges with proper evidence,” he said.
Riyaz also said that political parties were accusing the police of “baseless accusations” and advised them to refrain from doing so.
“We would welcome peaceful protests. We will cooperate as well but when protesters resort to violence, damaging private and public property, the police will have to disperse the crowds. We are here to maintain the peace and order of the country,” he said.
“The police are the authorities that have to control demonstrations and questions are always asked about the way protests and demonstrations are controlled, especially by those on the receiving end,” he said.
He called upon parliament to make a law on protesting so that it would be a lot easier for the police to perform their duties under such a law.
Riyaz also highlighted the importance of passing of laws that were vital for the police work: “We ask parliament to pass the bills concerning the duties of the police such as an Evidence Act, Criminal Procedure Act and the Penal Code,” he said. Those bills have stalled at committee stage, in some cases for over a year.
Riyaz said that police were given the full operational independence and insisted that “none of the political figures or the government are trying to influence the police institution.”
He also said that he was trying to assign police officers to the islands after the February 8 arson attacks on police buildings, following a violent police crackdown on demonstrators in Male’.
Riyaz also said it was better if the Human Rights Commission (HRCM) and Police Intergrity Commission (PIC) investigated the events that unfolded on February 8.
Riyaz brushed off all the allegations that some police had come out to control the protests after consuming alchohol as “baseless nonsense”, and said that police were being linked to alcohol because they had been investigating a lot of alcohol cases.
Riyaz was Assistant Commissioner under Nasheed’s government prior to his dismissal in 2010. Asked about the legality of the appointment of a civilian to the post of Commissioner of Police – position usually given to ranked officers – Riyaz said that he had been appointed according to the rules under the police act.
“I was discharged from my duties while I was an assistant commissioner. After the change of government, I was asked to join the police force as they said the government required my services and had requested me to join,” he said Riyaz.
“I was reinstated to the same position I was before, and I was appointed to the Commissioner of Police afterwards,” continued Riyaz.
He praised newly appointed deputy police commissioner Waheed, stating that the Waheed was a “very experienced serviceman” and had done police training abroad. Riyaz assured that he would get full support from Waheed and that under their leadership, the police would “win the people’s trust.”
Deputy Commissioner of Police, Waheed, said that he will give full support to the commissioner and assured that he would remain committed and loyal.