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Maldives heading towards safety and stability, says home minister

Citing a steady decline in the crime rate, Umar Naseer said that the Maldives is heading towards a “safer and more stable” future under the current administration. But critics say the police statistics are misleading as many Maldivians lack confidence in the police institution and do not report crimes.



Citing a steady decline in the crime rate, Home Minister Umar Naseer has said that the Maldives is heading towards a “safer and more stable” future under the current administration.

Naseer posted statistics from the police showing a substantial decrease in reported cases of assault, theft, and robbery since 2013.  Cases of theft declined from 6,682 in 2013 to 3,990 last year, whilst assault cases declined from 1,287 to 935.

Speaking at a ceremony held late last month to launch the strategic action plan of the Maldives Correctional Services, Naseer had said that even the opposition must acknowledge that violent crimes have declined since President Abdulla Yameen took office in November 2013.

But critics say the police statistics could be misleading.

MP Imthiyaz Fahmy, spokesperson of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, told The Maldives Independent that the party has noted “a lot of discrepancies” between statistics from the police and the criminal court.

Fahmy also suggested that the public cannot trust such assertions from “a rogue administration.”

Yameen’s administration has been besieged by multiple political crises since the imprisonment of former President Mohamed Nasheed and other politicians in early 2015, which triggered street protests and mass anti-government demonstrations.

Mohamed Hameed ‘MC,’ former head of the police intelligence department, meanwhile told The Maldives Independent that the police statistics do not accurately represent the crime rate in the Maldives.

“There are several factors that contribute to the number of crimes recorded. One of these factors is how active the police seem on the streets, and how they interact with people,” he explained.

Hameed also suggested that lack of public trust in the police institution as well as confidence in its ability to tackle crime might discourage people from reporting offences.

“There are several cases, some even as serious as armed robbery, that are not reported to the police,” he said.

Local NGO Transparency Maldives’s Democracy Survey 2015 showed that over 40 percent of Maldivians have “no confidence at all” in the police, an eight percent increase from 2013.

Despite the decrease in the number of theft and assault cases, police statistics show that the reported cases of domestic violence has increased while cases of embezzlement has almost doubled.

Seven people, including three Bangladeshis, were also murdered last year, up from five cases in 2014.