nCEN Implementation in Maldives


 

 

nCEN Implementation in Maldives

Author: Mr. Ismail Hamdoon 
Chief Superintendent 
Head of Compliance and Risk Management Division  
Maldives Customs Service
 

Maldives Customs Service (MCS) has been utilizing the Customs Enforcement Network (CEN)’s online database since 2007, for collecting information on customs related offences, seizure information as well as to analyze regional trends on narcotics and psychotropic substances. Despite having a vast collection of local data on seizures and suspects for over a decade, it was rather cumbersome to do an analysis and identify systematic trends on narcotics and other customs related offences for the region due to the lack of a proper automated system. 

Consequently, MCS had shown interest in nCEN application since 2012 and had completed the pre-assessment questionnaires sent from WCO in 2013 and 2014. After the initial step of the implementation process, WCO secretariat assessed the request and MCS was selected to proceed for the next phase of nCEN implementation and bilateral contracts were signed in 2015. 

Even though MCS had been selected for implementation of nCEN in 2014, funds for procurement of the necessary hardware and training was secured only in January 2015. The hardware needed for nCEN was funded by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) whereas a comprehensive training workshop was conducted in Male’ by WCO nCEN experts with the sponsorship of Euro Customs Co-operation Fund. The training was conducted for 16 MCS officers from 26th May 2015 to 4th June 2015 providing the participants with the necessary knowhow about the application. 

The nCEN consists of three independent databases (a seizure database, a suspect database, and a company database), as well as a communication component. The core database of national seizures and offences comprises data required for analysis, including means of conveyance, routes and the possibility to view photos, for example depicting exceptional concealment methods. Two supplementary databases contain information on suspected persons and offending business entities, facilitating a structured investigation process (Source: WCO) 

The nCEN application enables its users to effectively collect and store law enforcement information at national level, with the additional capability to exchange this information at regional and international levels. Hence, with the successful implementation of nCEN, MCS is now able to connect with all the regional customs and share data for enforcement purposes. MCS has started working on Operation Pangea VIII right after the implementation of nCEN utilizing the full CEN Application Suite, WCO nCEN online database, nCEN national database and CENcomm for secure communication. 

The process of implementing nCEN in Maldives 
Since 2007 MCS has been using the CEN database and there was a need for a similar local database for enforcement. MCS had promptly responded to the WCO’s initiative to identify the countries who were interested in nCEN
The initial step involved replying to WCO for expression of interest on the application 
MCS completed nCEN pre-assessment questionnaire in 2013 and 2014 
After the assessment of questionnaires, WCO informed the tentative dates for pre-deployment missions. Hence, the pre-deployment mission was carried out during the WCO CTS implementation process in 2014 and MCS was notified of its selection. The objective of the assessment was to identify the capability and capacity of the local IT department to deploy such an application
Once funding was secured, WCO sent a contract together with the implementation guideline. The legal approval of the contract was a long process as approval had to be sought from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Attorney General’s office in addition to MCS’s legal department
Tentative dates of hardware procurement and training was finalized when the signed contract was sent to WCO. 
As it was important to allocate a highly competent technical staff for the project, MCS selected a specific IT staff for the project who would adhere to the instructions of WCO in setting up the hardware and software
As a hands-on training was conducted, participants were selected from the relevant sections so that the application can be utilized as soon as they completed the training
The final step was providing the user access to the trained officers only, as the confidentiality of the information is of paramount importance
MCS is now in the process of entering the current and past seizure information in addition to suspect data in order to work on analysis and trends of narcotics and psychotropic substances.