Police and immigration team up on human-trafficking, Maldivian Jihadists

Police and immigration team up on human-trafficking, Maldivian Jihadists
August 25 10:36 2015

The police and the Immigration Department are boosting information sharing to tackle chronic problems of human trafficking, the outflow of Maldivians Jihadists and document forgery.

Speaking at the inauguration of the ‘Knowledge Sharing Forum’ on Monday, Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed said lack of information has hindered operations. He also highlighted a reluctance to share information with the police intelligence directorate.

“The intelligence service is perceived as a threatening department. It is difficult to share collected information [with the intelligence department]. In certain cases this has been a setback in executing some of our operations,” he said.

Information is key to fighting terror and human trafficking, he said.

Of the 124,000 migrant workers who work in the Maldives, some 30,000 are estimated to be undocumented. They are often subject to forced labor and debt bondage.

Hundreds of Maldivians are thought to have left the country to fight with militant groups in the Middle-East, including the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. These include immigration officers, women and children.

The opposition has criticised the government for inadequate efforts to tackle human-trafficking and radicalization.

Noting the involvement of immigration officers in aiding human-trafficking and the outflow of Maldivian Jihadists, Waheed said: “There has been some unfortunate incidents in the past involving the immigration department.”

Stronger information sharing mechanisms can help the police identify perpetrators, and deport foreigners involved in terrorism and human trafficking, he said.

The forum will last nine days. Some 300 police officers and immigration officers are participating in the forum.

President Abdulla Yameen in July ordered an investigation into the departure of Azlif Rauf, a suspect in the 2012 murder of an MP, to Syria. However, there were no pending charges against Azlif or an order to withhold his passport.

His family claims he was killed in battle in May.

The government has submitted an anti-terror bill to the parliament with harsh punishments for attempting to leave the Maldives for Jihad.

Mohamed Hameed, the former head of intelligence service, has said that harsh punishments are not enough to stop extremists.

“Counter-terrorism policing is a more complex subject where success relies heavily on how well regular police work is carried out in partnership with the communities the police service serves,” he said.

In 2008 immigration officer Varahmath Ahmed was jailed for allowing the masterminds of a bombing at Sultan Park bomb to leave the Maldives. He was later pardoned.