President Abdulla Yameen has called on the police to not consider the current peaceful atmosphere in the country as a “permanent stability” although peace has been established after months of turmoil.
Speaking as guest of honour at the police force’s 81st anniversary celebrations, Yameen called on the police to prepare to for any challenges that may come their way in the near future, saying times of stability are the best times for forces to prepare for war.
“We should not delude ourselves into thinking that what we are experiencing today is a permanent state of stability. I appeal to the respectable police and your leaders to utilise these calm times to prepare for future challenges that may come your way,” he stated.
He went on to say that crime cannot be fought by the efforts of the police alone, and that together with the efforts of the police, the judicial process also needs to be expedited in criminal cases. He said that despite the police’s best efforts, results cannot be reaped unless the judicial branch cooperates with the efforts.
“If this is not done, regardless of how courageous the police force is, people will not have faith that there can be justice and stability amongst us,” the president said.
The Human Rights Commission’s (HRCM) annual report for 2013 recommended reform of the judiciary after it had received complaints reporting the slow speed at which cases are attended to by the courts in addition to the failure to take action against judges accused of misconduct.
“In my administration, I want the police to be seen by the public as responsible professionals who are skilled in the work they do,” continued Yameen.
“The police’s duty is today is not to protect merciless leaders. Instead, it is to serve humanity. The police are a force which saves lives and respects human rights. A force which protects people’s property from being harmed. A force which protects the society from harm,” he said.
Along the same lines as the words of his cabinet minister for home affairs, the president warned against harming police officers, stating the current government would not tolerate such acts.
“Police must always be accountable. There are also entities tasked with oversight of the police’s work. Police work will be criticised at times, and that, in the end, is something that the media must do. However, no one should resort to harming police officers. This government will never tolerate such acts,” he stated.
“I would like to happily inform all police officers that this government has submitted amendments to the Penal Code to parliament, on the passing of which, severe punishments will be dealt out to people to commit such acts. As the Penal Code gets revised, individuals who harass the police and those who cause harm to officers on duty will face strict punishments,” Yameen revealed.
The president went on to assure the police officers that the current government is also mindful of police welfare, pledging to attempt to find better housing for them.
He further pledged to provide technology and facilities needed to further develop the force. He asserted that police are trained not just with the objective of making them strong physically, but also to develop their minds to a capacity where they can be watchful over the three powers of the state.
“The people we have to face will not be patient persons, however they are Maldivians in whose service we remain. They will come to us with complaints.”
“They will be upset and angry when they come. However, police officers must remain patient and communicate diplomatically and manage things sincerely. The police are a force which remains in service of humanity,” Yameen advised the gathered officers.
A patient approach to those in police detention was also urged by the police commissioner last week after the HRCM’s report had noted a rise in mistreatment of those in police custody.