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Maldives Police arms officers with stun guns and body-cams

Mariyam Malsa
19 May 2020, MVT 20:46
Police officer near an area closed off in Male. PHOTO: AHMED ASHWAN ILYAS / MIHAARU
Mariyam Malsa
19 May 2020, MVT 20:46

Commissioner of Police (CP) Mohamed Hameed, on Tuesday, announced that Conducted Electric Weapon (CEW)s were provided, on trial basis, to Maldives' police officers.

CEWs, more commonly known as stun guns, fire projectiles that administer an electric shock through thin flexible wires in order to temporarily disrupt muscle functions or cause non-lethal pain.

The commissioner described CEWs as "a smart and effective tool to de-escalate violence with potential to harm members of public and officers".

Assuring that the use of CEWs would be governed by the use of force regulations, Commissioner Hameed also stated that Body Worn Cameras would be used to ensure the accountability of officers armed with stun guns.

Nevertheless, a considerable history of police brutality is recorded in Maldives, which has previously drawn criticism from Amnesty International and other human rights watchdogs.

Many previous cases involve politicians currently serving at high posts, who were at the time members of the opposition.

Numerous incidents of undue force being exercised by officers, were also reported between police officers and journalists that were present to cover the ongoing activity.

Allegations of police misconduct were also raised during the tenure of the incumbent police commissioner.

Several members of the public have harshly criticized the decision to introduce CEWs, voicing concerns of disproportionate force and a lack of accountability.

According to a study published by the University of Cambridge in 2018, police officers carrying taser electronic weapons are at least 48 percent more likely to use force and also more likely to be assaulted.

Medical opinion appears divided on the possible risk a taser-stun may pose to health, however, experts do raise concern over the impact of CEWs on cardiac and brain function.

Given the comparatively smaller population of Maldives, and despite being severely congested, the overall number of persons living in the capital city, weighed against the number of officers active in Maldives Police Service, many locals continue to question the necessity of the aforementioned measures.

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