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Cablegate: 2004 International Narcotics Control Strategy

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 002032

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SA/INS, INL
JUSTICE FOR OIA, AFMLS, AND NDDS
TREASURY FOR FINCEN
DEA FOR OILS AND OFFICE OF DIVERSION CONTROL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR PGOV PREL CE
SUBJECT: 2004 INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS CONTROL STRATEGY
REPORT (INCSR) FOR THE MALDIVES

REF: SECSTATE 248987

1. Please find attached Mission's 2004 International
Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR).

The Maldives
------------

The Maldives is not a producer of narcotics or precursor
chemicals. Officials believe that all narcotics trafficked
into Maldives is for local use, not for transshipment.

Consisting of approximately 1,100 islands set in the Indian
Ocean, and with a population of approximately 270,000, the
Republic of the Maldives has a comparatively small drug
problem. Maldivian authorities believe, however, that the
drug problem is at the root of most crime in the society.

The Maldivian government and the U.S. maintain a good
working relationship on counternarcotics issues.

The Maldivian government is very sensitive to the illicit
drug issue and is taking steps to address the problem. The
government conducted a Rapid Situation Assessment, published
in 2004, of drug abuse in Maldives during 2003. The study
was possible due to changes to the narcotics law in 2002
which enabled officials to speak with drug abusers without
being required to report them. In line with government
officials' assumptions, the study found that the majority of
drug abusers are in the 18-35 year old category. Officials
also estimate that five to ten percent of the population
abuses drugs. The late-teen onset of drug abuse coincides
with completion of secondary education and the lack of
sufficient employment opportunities for the growing
population of young adults. Drug abuse has shifted from
cannabis to "brown sugar" heroin in recent years.

In September 2004, the Police Department split from the
National Security Service and is responsible for narcotics
law enforcement. The Department now has a Narcotics Control
Unit staffed by approximately one dozen officers. With its
newly defined responsibilities, the Police Department plans
to increase efforts to apprehending drug traffickers and
users. Officials state that the large number of foreign
workers, mainly South Asians, is one source of drug
trafficking. Police estimate that between three to four
kilograms of heroin are trafficked into Maldives annually.
Given the relatively small scale of the abuse problem, only
small quantities are generally trafficked, which are more
difficult to detect. There is no evidence at this time
suggesting that the Maldives is a transshipment point for
narcotics. As the country has a large amount of commerce
and traffic via the sea, officials believe, however, that
most drugs enter the country via small commercial vessels.
Police plan to engage vessel operators in deterrence
efforts.

The U.S. has assisted the Maldives in counternarcotics
activities, including via direct training and through the
Colombo Plan. In 2004, the Colombo Plan conducted U.S.-
funded regional narcotics officer training in the Maldives.
Previous U.S. government funding to the Maldivian government
in 1993 created a computerized immigration record-keeping
system, in part to track the movements of alleged drug
traffickers. This was followed by additional U.S. funding
in 1996 to enhance the system.

In November 1997, the Maldivian government established a
Narcotics Control Board under the Executive Office of the
President, now renamed the National Narcotics Control Bureau
(NNCB). The NNCB principally oversees rehabilitation of
addicts and conducts awareness campaigns throughout the
islands. At present, Maldives only has a 150-bed treatment
center, on both a voluntary and involuntary basis. To
address the chronic shortage of space, the government is
building an additional 200-bed treatment center, which will
only be available to those convicted of a drug offense.
Officials expect the center to open in January 2005. The
NNCB has also begun employing expatriate healthcare
professionals, such as child psychologists, to work with
population in the treatment centers.

The Republic of the Maldives has no extradition treaty with
the United States. In 1994, however, the Maldives
cooperated with the U.S. in rendering a Nigerian national to
the United States to face narcotics trafficking charges.
The Maldivian government is a party to the 1988 UN Drug
Convention.

LUNSTEAD

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