The UNODC Global Maritime Crime Programme (GMCP) provides support to develop and strengthen the capacity of Member States in the Indian Ocean, Horn of Africa and West Africa to respond to the threats posed by maritime crime. Through GMCP, UNODC works closely with law enforcement agencies to enhance their capabilities in disrupting, investigating and prosecuting maritime offences.
Since its establishment in the Maldives, UNODC-GMCP has been providing assistance to different government agencies in the areas of maritime law enforcement, island security and support to the judiciary to counter maritime crime. With the generous support of the European Union-funded project “Support to Maldives on Counter-Terrorism”, UNODC has engaged with the Maldives Coast Guard, Maldives Police Service (MPS) and other government agencies to enhance their capabilities to better detect maritime threats through stronger maritime domain awareness (MDA) capacity, and to improve criminal intelligence mechanisms among law enforcement agencies.
UNODC-GMCP has established a strong partnership with Maldives government agencies. To date, UNODC-GMCP has supported maritime law enforcement agencies, predominantly the Maldives Coast Guard, MPS and the Maldives Customs Service, in addressing vulnerabilities around maritime intrusion and enhancing communication networks. A detailed Threat Assessment was completed on behalf of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) in 2017, followed by a regional Expert Group meeting, and additional related activities were carried out in support of MPS, specifically assistance in developing Standard Operating Procedures and delivering a Table-top Exercise on Remote Island Security. Since 2019, UNODC has been engaging with the Ministry of Tourism to support the ministry’s role as part of the government’s Strategic Action Plan (SAP) 2019-2023, to oversee the implementation of the Minimum Security Standards, called “Regulation on Safety Standards at Tourism Establishments”. UNODC seeks to support tourism establishments in inhabited islands on the implementation of the said Regulation, along with the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Home Affairs through the Maldives Police Service. Despite COVID-19 restrictions, UNODC successfully held consultations with the relevant government agencies to develop a list of prioritized inhabited islands for support. Initial contacts were made with said islands, but due to the ongoing pandemic, further engagements have been delayed. UNODC seeks to continue these interactions through the support of this recruitment.
UNODC-GMCP has also been providing support to the Maldives law enforcement agencies in relation to MDA. In 2018, UNODC-GMCP gathered representatives from a wide range of law enforcement agencies, including the Maldives Coast Guard, the Attorney General’s Office, the Maldives Prosecutor-General’s Office, the Maldives Police Marine Operations Unit, and the Maldives Customs Service, to participate in a workshop on evidence collection relating to fisheries crimes. As part of this exercise, UNODC-GMCP exchanged information on current mechanisms to combat illegal fishing as well as and other maritime crimes, including the use of technological tools to expand the law enforcement capacity on MDA. This led to the recommendation of establishing a national maritime intelligence bureau, tightening coordination with national maritime fusion centres in the region and developing information-sharing mechanisms with relevant international stakeholders. In 2020, an initial MDA Foundational Training Session was delivered remotely, incorporating the participation of various law enforcement agencies in an attempt to encourage interagency collaboration, including the Maldives Coast Guard, Maldives Police Service, Maldives Customs and Maldives Immigration. In 2021, a full-time consultant was placed in the Maldives to build on these endeavours.
Between 2019 and 2021, UNODC-GMCP has strengthened the capacity of Maldivian maritime law enforcement agencies through Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) training. VBSS training targets national maritime law enforcement authorities to enhance their capability to disrupt and respond effectively to maritime crime threats. VBSS trainings include theoretical sessions on trends of drug trafficking, trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants in the Indian Ocean region, which are delivered by expert officers from countries of best practice. In addition to VBSS courses, UNODC-GMCP has enhanced the capacity of the Maldives Customs Service through Pierside Vessel Search Techniques (PVST) training courses. These courses allow trainees to apply theoretical knowledge through well-prepared simulated scenarios and hands-on exercises with the aim of improving their skills in the identification of restricted goods, illicit narcotics, weapon trafficking and irregular migratory activity. UNODC-GMCP also delivered protective and searching equipment to complement training endeavours.
UNODC-GMCP is expanding its activities to support maritime law enforcement agencies in countering maritime crime and other types of transnational organized crime, including maritime terrorism, through (1) the design and delivery of training on security preparedness and response under the Minimum Security Standards national strategy, (2) the delivery of VBSS training programmes, (3) the delivery of training on MDA as well as the procurement of MDA-related equipment, and (4) the provision of relevant equipment and technology to improve island security. Given this expansion, there is a crucial need to coordinate technical, logistical and strategic support in the Maldives to guarantee the successful implementation and delivery of the various projects UNODC-GMCP plans to undertake in the country.