22 dead in gang violence since 2008: Home Minister

Some 22 people died of gang violence in the country since 2008, Home Minister Hassan Afeef informed MPs during Minister’s Question Time at parliament today amidst heightened public concern over violent crimes.

Responding to a query from MP Ahmed Mahlouf about police efforts to curb violent assault and organised crime across the country, Afeef explained that a special operation involving the capital police, special operations and serious and organised crime departments was currently underway.

In addition to increased police patrols, said Afeef, police were working with the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) to expedite cases and hold dangerous suspects in remand detention or monitored house arrest.

Afeef insisted that the government has not released convicts outside of the parole programmes, adding however that police were yet to find “about 300 people” sentenced in absentia.

“Now, as you know, some time ago a large number of people were sentenced in absentia,” he said. “There were about 300 people sentenced in absentia. We have to find out where these people are. We haven’t had complete information about them either.”

Afeef echoed concerns expressed by Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh earlier this month that the main obstacle for effective policing was “the lack of a jail that could rehabilitate offenders and release them back to society.”

The Home Minister also flagged the issue of convicts escaping either directly from prison or during hospital visits in Male’ as a related problem.

Police meanwhile revealed last week that a large haul of dangerous weapons, including knives and a two-foot long sword, were confiscated from four houses in Male’ as part of the ongoing special operation.

Inspector Abdulla Nawaz, deputy head of the serious and organised crime department, on Thursday publicised crime records of “eight dangerous criminals,” most of whom had been arrested more than 10 times on average for offences such as violent assault and burglary.

“We will not hesitate to take a person to court for a third time,” an impassioned Nawaz told press. “If we have to do it for a fourth time, we’ll do it if it’s necessary, and keep him under policy custody for a fourth time if we have to. There is no other way that we can suppress this.”

During the past week, 53 suspects were taken into police custody and 14 were placed under house arrest, while 161 people and 45 minors were stopped and searched on the streets.

Anti-gang violence campaign

The Maldives National Broadcasting Commission (MNBC) meanwhile launched a special campaign last week to educate the public on the shortcomings of the criminal justice system and raise awareness about the challenges to public safety and security.

In a statement condemning Thursday’s knife attack on MNBC sports presenter Mohamed Sodiq, the public broadcaster said that “these brutal atrocities from out of control criminals” were intended to cause fear among citizens “and especially Maldivian journalists.”

Failure to enforce sentences and legal hurdles to securing convictions for “dangerous criminals” are the two main reasons for the worsening crime situation, the MNBC statement said.

While the lack of an Evidence Act and mechanism for witnesses protection has been identified as serious impediments, Deputy Prosecutor General Hussein Shameem told press last week that the absence of legislation was not the entirety of the problem.

“It is true, there are difficulties caused by the lack of Evidence Act,” he said. “For one thing, not knowing what kind of evidence will be accepted by court poses difficulties for us. However, we believe that this is a big opportunity for judges to contribute to the system.”

The PGO since 2009 has at times been at odds with the Criminal Court over the interpretation of existing laws.

At last week’s press conference however, Shameem revealed that two eye witnesses to gang violence who had retracted their statements at court have since been convicted to one year imprisonment each after being found guilty of giving false testimony.


8 thoughts on “22 dead in gang violence since 2008: Home Minister”

  1. Thank you MNBC for taking up the campaign against violent crime . Unlike the health Ministry who thought a walk was the solution, MNBC efforts will make a real difference. We hope you start giving as much information as you can about people who abuse vulnerable people as well.

  2. Afeef's comments were as useful as a creme brule is to a diabetic. here's the thing my dear countrymen , Afeef does not have a clue as to what police work is. it is not about special operations or hauling in criminals to court but a concerted effort to improve police efficiency that will work. as Robert peels principle of policing stated "Its not he presence of police but the absence of of crime that is the measure of o police efficiency".

  3. i really miss the afeef who was in opposition MDP? if this was the same afeef? i assure all readers that the incompetent commissioner of police would be removed from his post!!!

  4. THis is clear proof that both Commissioner of Police that has had the post last 3 years and Home Minister that was appointed some months ago is totally incompetent.

    It about time they get replace with people that can give results and knows what police work is about.

    After MDP government took office we have seen one after another government institution fail its duties to this country.

    And dont blame this failure on former president as well.

    Let pray that the government dont decide to sell the Police to the Indian government as well.

  5. The Maldives Police should be given to Israel for management like the airport is given to GMR. They will surely get rid of all criminals unlike GMR performance in the airport!

  6. Scanning through the headline I felt as if i was reading a news from Columbia, Mexico or elsewhere in Africa, but the truth sadly is its Maldives. 22 deaths in a span of 3 years is huge, and is very sad to learn that it is taking place between our own brotherly people. Who is to blame for this "catastrophic" social and moral failure. Before the collapse of former regime, things were same but were limited and covertly executed by media. However surge in the number of gang related deaths are a result of failure by one or two of the respective authories in the country.

  7. Police have really been working hard to apprehend the criminals, they are then taken to court, sentenced (sometimes) and sent to jail. Good news for these criminals is, they can be back home the next day.


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