Police to form a ‘K-9 dog squad’ to combat drug trafficking

As part of the government’s anti-drug trafficking efforts, the Ministry of Home Affairs has requested the Maldives Police Service (MPS) form a ‘K9 dog squad’.

Upon the ministry’s request, police will soon begin working on establishing the squad, a police official told today. According to the official, local police officers are to be trained for the squad.

Quoting the ministry, local news outlet CNM has reported that a total of fifteen officers would be trained for the purpose.

Police have earlier worked on bringing sniffer dogs into the country as counter-trafficking measure on several occasions. It was included in the organisation’s strategic action plan 2011 -2013, while in late 2012 Indian assistance was sought in bringing police sniffer dogs.

Dogs were also brought in from Sri Lanka for security operations during the 2011 SAARC Summit held in the Maldives . On that occasion the dogs were handled by Sri Lanka’s police elite special forces unit Special TaskForce (STF).

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, to that day, no drugs were ever confiscated with the help of the two dogs. He said the committee’s investigations found that the dogs were in fact unable to recognize drugs.

Speaking to Minivan News today, an MNDF spokesperson confirmed that the two dogs did not remain in the country, though he was unaware of what had happened to them.

Under the unlawful imports act of 1975, dogs can only be brought into Maldives with a special permission from the Ministry of Defense and National Security.

Local interpretation of Islam is that dogs are impure animals and should not be touched or taken into one’s home. Scholars have declared that touching a dog even accidentally would require any Muslim to wash that part of the body seven times.


Majlis to interview 25 for security officers’ role

After fielding applications from 267 individuals, the Majlis has selected 25 people to be interviewed as security officers, local media reported.

MDP MP Imthiyaz ‘Inti’ Fahmy told Sun Online that the Majlis intended to employ one hundred officers.

The selection process follows Speaker Abdulla Shahid’s swearing in of former Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) officer Mohamed Haleem to the newly announced position of sergeant at arms last month.

The sergeant at arms is to oversee security of the Majlis premises – a task currently carried out by the MNDF.

The Ministry of Defence has criticised the move, arguing that the role is constitutionally reserved to the military, an argument which Shahid has expressed surprise at.

“I personally believe that the MNDF personnel should not be asked to come into confrontation with politicians, especially Members of Parliament. MNDF is a much higher institution,” Shahid told Minivan News earlier this month.


MNDF military hospital to provide medical services to immigration department

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) military hospital is to begin to provide medical services to employees of the Department of Immigration and Emigration.

Defence Minister Colonel Mohamed Nazim was quoted in local media as saying that all services of the military hospital are now available under Aasandha to the employees of the immigration department.

“Employees of Immigration Department and their families can obtain medical treatment under Aasandha from the military hospital. This includes their husbands and wives. We are trying to provide the best medical services to our employees,” he told Sun Online.

The Department of Immigration and Emigration was recently transferred from the under the Ministry of Home Affairs to the Ministry of Defence.

According to the President’s Office, the decision to transfer the department was taken to make administration of the country’s immigration system more efficient.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) last week questioned the legality of the decision to transfer control of the Department of Immigration and Emigration to the Defence Ministry.


Proposed defence budget 14 percent higher than 2012

The defence budget proposed in the annual state budget for 2013 submitted to parliament last week is 14 percent higher than 2012.

A total of MVR 930.9 million (US$60.3 million) was proposed for defence expenditure, which amounts to 5.5 percent of the total budget.

The figure in 2012 was MVR 797.9 million (US$51.7 million) or 4.8 percent of this year’s budget.

Of the MVR930.9 million assigned for the military, MVR 805.4 million (US$52.2 million) is to be spent on military defence and MVR 125.5 million (US$8.1 million) on civil defence.

The budget assigned for the Ministry of Defence for 2013 is MVR913 million, up from MVR811 million in 2012.

Moreover, defence expenditure under the Public Sector Investment Projects (PSIP) include MVR 3.1 million (US$201,000) for the construction of a troops accommodation building in Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo and MVR 1.9 million (US$123,216) for a military barracks in Laamu Kadhdhoo.

Following the controversial transfer of presidential power in February, an allowance of military personnel pending for more than two years was disbursed in a single payment.

Local media reported at the time that some officers had received over MVR6000 (US$390) in accrued allowances, although a total figure spent on the pay out, or how many officers received the allowances, was not stated.