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Cablegate: Maldives: Input for Incsr

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 002095

SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR MV
SUBJECT: MALDIVES: INPUT FOR INCSR

REF: STATE 209558

1. The information in this cable is keyed to Reftel.

2. (Part I) Summary. Maldives is not a producer of
narcotics or precursor chemicals. The Maldivian government
and the U.S. maintain a good working relationship on
counternarcotics issues. Officials estimate that in 2005,
upwards of ten percent of the population abuses drugs. The
U.S. government has assisted the Maldives in counternarcotics
activities, including via direct training and through the
Colombo Plan. In October 2004, the president set up the
National Narcotics Control Bureau (NNCB), mandated to
coordinate all anti-drug efforts. In September 2005, the
Maldivian government initiated a project to have 80 people
earn advanced diplomas in anti-narcotics fields. There is no
evidence to suggest that Maldives is a significant
transshipment point for narcotics or that Maldives produces
or cultivates narcotics.

3. (Part II) Status of Country. Maldives is not a producer
of narcotics or precursor chemicals. Officials believe that
all narcotics trafficked into Maldives is probably for local
use, not for transshipment. The Republic of Maldives
consists of approximately 1,100 islands set in the Indian
Ocean, and has a population of approximately 270,000. Both
law enforcement officials and anecdotal evidence suggest that
drug addiction has become a major problem in Maldives.
Maldivian authorities believe 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.

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4. (Part II continued). 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 of drug abuse, performed in Maldives in
2003 and published in 2004. The study was possible because
changes to the narcotics law in 2002 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. In 2005, officials estimate that
upwards of ten percent of the population abuses drugs. In
the past, the late-teen onset of drug abuse coincided with
completion of secondary education and the lack of sufficient
employment opportunities for the growing population of young
adults. However, UNICEF officers reported that the average
age at first use has now dropped to 12. In recent years,
drug abuse has shifted from cannabis to "brown sugar" heroin.
UNICEF officers expressed concern that the method of heroin
consumption may shift from smoking to injection.

5. (Part III. 23.2) Policy Initiatives. In September 2004,
the Police Department split from the National Security
Service, and the police are responsible for narcotics law
enforcement. The Department now has a Narcotics Control Unit
staffed by 50 officers. In addition, in October 2004, the
president set up a National Narcotics Control Bureau (NNCB),
mandated to coordinate anti-drug efforts, promote demand
reduction, carry out public education campaigns, and conduct
rehabilitation programs.

6. (Part III. 23.2.a) Accomplishments. In August 2005,
Deputy Gender and Family Minister Dr. Abdulla Waheed was
appointed as the head of the NNCB. In addition, in September
2005, the government initiated a project to have 80 people
earn advanced diplomas or Master's degrees in anti-narcotics
fields within five years. The NNCB plans to have these
practitioners work in atolls where drug addiction rates are
high. At present, Maldives has a 150-bed treatment center
for both voluntary and involuntary patients in Himmafushi; a
new 200-bed wing at this facility should become operational
soon, while an additional 100-bed facility in Addu is
expected to open by the end of the year. The NNCB employs
expatriate healthcare professionals, such as child
psychologists, to work at the center. The courts order a
large number of addicts to go into rehabilitation, inundating
the small facility. At times, the waiting list for the
center exceeds the number receiving treatment.

7. (Part III.23.3.a) Law Enforcement Efforts. Officials
state that the large number of incoming foreign workers,
mainly South Asians, is one source of drug trafficking.
Between two to three kilograms of heroin are detected being
trafficked into Maldives annually. Since only small
quantities of narcotics are usually trafficked, detection is
difficult. There is no evidence at this time suggesting that
the Maldives is a significant 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.

8. (Part III 23.4.a) Corruption. The government of the
Maldives did not, as a matter of policy, encourage or
facilitate the illicit production or distribution of any
controlled substances or the laundering of proceeds from
illegal drug transactions. There were no reports that any
senior official engaged in such activity or encouragement
thereof. There were no INL-funded aircraft or equipment in
country.

9. (Part III 23.5) Agreements and Treaties. 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.

10. (Part III 23.6) Cultivation/Production. There is no
evidence that illicit drugs are cultivated or produced in
Maldives.

11. (Part III 23.7) Drug Flow/Transit. There is no
evidence at this time suggesting that the Maldives is a
significant 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.

12. (Part IV 24.2) Bilateral Cooperation. The US has
assisted the Maldives in counternarcotics activities,
including via direct training and through the Colombo Plan.
In 2005, the Colombo Plan conducted a U.S.-funded regional
training program in Maldives for public health practitioners.
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. The US followed up with additional funding in
1996 to enhance the system.

13. (Part IV 24.2 continued) Road Ahead. The U.S.
government intends to maintain its commitment to aiding the
Maldivian government in combating drug abuse. The U.S.
expects to continue its support of the Colombo Plan.

LUNSTEAD

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