The regional delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in New Delhi, in collaboration with the Maldives National Defence Force, conducted a two-day workshop on International Rules and Standards for the Exercise of Maritime Law Enforcement Powers in Malé on 8-9 October. Thirty-two participants, including officers of the Coast Guard, Marine Police, Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and Attorney General’s office involved in maritime law enforcement, attended the workshop.

The aim of the workshop was to create an understanding of maritime security issues with a special emphasis on international conventions and other relevant principles, and rules applicable in maritime operations in addition to the exercise of police powers in arrest, search, seizure and detention.

The primary task of the MNDF is to respond to all internal and external security needs. This includes the protection of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the maintenance of peace and security. Maldives is spread across 1192 islets with a vast EEZ spanning 900,000 square kilometers. The MNDF comprises the Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Special Forces, Service Corps and an Air Wing, and its role and duties also include monitoring the Maldives’ waters and keeping a watch on intruders in the EEZ and territorial waters.

The interactive sessions over two days covered the scope of maritime security, including the nature of the environment, the law enforcement paradigm under human rights law, maritime zones and their implications for law enforcement operations, apart from other related issues such as piracy, trafficking, migration, fisheries and use of force and firearms at sea. Participants also had the opportunity to discuss humanitarian forensics applicable to the management of the dead at sea and the best practices that can guide the work of first responders. Participants worked on case studies and it was followed by group presentations and discussion.

The workshop provided an opportunity for the ICRC and MNDF to find common areas of interest and share perspectives and experiences on contemporary challenges which maritime security practitioners face. The ICRC works closely with the Maldivian government and the Maldivian Red Crescent on various humanitarian projects, including humanitarian forensics and providing first aid, safer access and training in emergency preparedness.