Maldives: Defence Minister welcomes UNODC’s efforts in advancing cooperation on counter-terrorism

Male, Maldives/14 December 2022: Terrorism and violent extremism pose serious threats to international peace, security, human rights, and sustainable development. In response, national action and international cooperation are key elements for addressing these issues effectively. The ability to successfully address the challenges depends heavily on the capacity of national criminal justice systems to administer fair and effective justice for perpetrators of terrorist crimes, and to undertake effective preventive measures in accordance with the rule of law.

UNODC has been working with national stakeholders in the Maldives on counter-terrorism and prevention of violent extremism, and will continue to do so under the framework of a specially-designed project supported by the European Union. The project is aimed at increasing the capacity of criminal justice and law enforcement officials to effectively prevent and counter terrorism and related threats in the Maldives, in line with the relevant international legal instruments and human rights norms, standards and good practices. 

In this backdrop, UNODC’s Head of Programme Office in the Maldives, Mr. Enrico Boninsegna called on the Honourable Minister of Defence, Maldives, Ms. Mariya Didi to discuss ongoing cooperation on counter-terrorism and prevention of violent extremism, and ways to align initiatives with the country’s priorities and needs.

The Minister welcomed UNODC’s efforts advancing cooperation on counter-terrorism, and extended support to the development of the UNODC’s new regional programme in South Asia, currently under preparation.

“UNODC, together with partner nations have collaborated on multiple occasions on various fronts to provide invaluable capacity building opportunities to the Maldives. These programmes have enhanced the capacity and capabilities of Maldives to deal with the challenges of the current dynamic security environment particularly in the area of terrorism and violent extremism,” theMinister of Defence said.

She also emphasized the work of the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Maldives, in raising awareness and addressing the concerns of local communities in remote islands.

“While the criminal justice and kinetic elements are important parts of the counter terrorism regime, there is no substitute for a well-coordinated, comprehensive response that emphasizes the softer dimension, such as counter radicalization and deradicalization and reintegration. The fact that these radical elements are able to thrive and operate within our communities highlight the urgent need to step up our focus and effort on countering extremist ideologies and narratives.”

Upon invitation by the Minister, a meeting was also held in Addu (southern part of Maldives) with the Southern Area Commander of Maldives National Defence Force to discuss security concerns at the local level, particularly in the areas of violent extremism and drug trafficking.